‘Hear it from a Kickstarter’ by Alex Johnston-Seymour

 

For those of you that don’t know; Kickstart is a government scheme to give people in the at-risk category (earning below £0) a chance to transition into employment. The placements run for six months, must provide training, be at least twenty-five hours a week and earning at least minimum wage.

Alex’s story – The Kickstart scheme has given me a chance to have a job, to learn invaluable work skills and afford to move in with my partner and build our lives together. I am subsequently feeling happier and fulfilled now that I can be financially independent.

As this is my first job, my CV starts here – I went to Castle Carrock Primary School (2000-2005), Brampton Junior School (2005-2007), William Howard School in Brampton, Cumbria (2008 – 2012); I got the usual kind of GCSE’s, then moved on to a BTEC level 3 in music at Leeds Conservatoire (then Leeds College of Music) (2013 – 2015) which preceded completing my degree there in popular music performance (Voice) (2015 – 2018) whilst being an artist, touring and busking to pay my way. I finished my degree with an empty overdraft and an income that barely kept me afloat – just like most other people I knew.

Until May 2021, I had been an artist, the lead singer for Yorkshire rock band The Tenmours. We performed at Leeds Festival in 2019 and were booked on our first European tour in 2020…!

I have been a professional musician for 10 years; running all aspects of a band business including composing to touring to contracts and team leadership. When the Coronavirus pandemic struck and our tour was cancelled, I concluded that to succeed in music business, I needed to get more general business and job experience.

In early 2021 I got some commissions to write jingles, one for a TV news introduction and one for Breathing Space HR’s new product DevelopMe. In meeting MD Suzie Bogle and Sales Partner Clare Morgan, I heard Breathing Space were also recruiting through the Kickstart Scheme for sales and marketing support.   I contacted my job coach and expressed that I wanted to apply for their vacancy.

It wasn’t the easiest process as it’s a new scheme and Breathing Space being a Kickstart Gateway have had to work hard with the DWP to navigate quite a painful paperwork process in which many other businesses did not succeed or gave up during the application stage.

Thankfully, I can report I am now a Sales & Marketing Assistant (the much-needed job that I have otherwise been struggling to get for too many years).

This role utilises skills I’ve gained from independent learning and experience (even though I have not got a marketing degree).

Considering this is my first employment by someone else, obviously I am learning a lot and accumulating as much information about how to run a successful and ethical business as possible; the best examples of which can be found at BSHR’s office.

This is my first proper job and I am learning a lot and accumulating as much information about how to run a successful and ethical business as possible; the best examples of which can be found at BSHR’s office.

Things that have been personally hard for me (being a bossy type person for 8 years) is recognising I’m a pawn on the chessboard. But I welcome the challenge, welcome the training and welcome the fact that everyone in the office is crazy experienced and has probably trained hundreds of budding newbies before.

A struggle I’m sure everyone else encounters is learning the right stuff.  To become a good and current marketeer, one needs to find the training that is bang on the money. Breathing Space has been able to sort me out with a brilliant training and development platform called DevelopMe, which I mentioned I did the jingle for. It has 8000+ educational tests, videos, resources, assessments, the lot!

I’m experiencing what it means to have a healthy work-life balance as far as I can tell. I feel appreciative for where I am and to Clare and Chrissie at BSHR for taking me on. But to my surprise, I feel pride; proud of myself in the tasks I complete and the progress I’m making.

On a more unserious note, I am liking a bunch of things such as the super organised office equipment and setup: the computers – WOW two screens, sci-fi mouses, nice pens, organisation like I could only aspire to, white boards, blackboards, meeting areas, nice chairs, plants and easy access to trees and green things.

I understand the cultural pressures to ‘get a job’, the debates on the path one follows in life – I have questioned and defied it for 8 years or so. For your (the readers) information, it is not in my character to ‘get a job’, I did it because this job is in line with my goals and allows me to progress to the next chapter of my life, a sentiment I’m sure most people can understand considering the state of 2020/21.

On the whole, I definitely feeling lucky at the moment and thank you for reading my blog, I hope you thought I sounded honest (especially as I’m now a sales & marketing assistant).

By Alex Johnston-Seymour