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Dream Placement led to life-changing opportunity
for Abigail at Cyclife

Abigail Caldow Dream Placement helped Abigail Caldow on to the career ladder

Dream Placement gives Cumbrian teenagers aged 16 to 18 the chance to win a week-long placement with one of the county's most forward-looking businesses or organisations to learn about leadership and career opportunities. The scheme is organised by the Centre for Leadership Performance, a not for profit organisation based in Cockermouth which partners with organisations across all sectors to develop Cumbria's leaders for today and tomorrow. Around 1000 teenagers have benefited from placements, selection days and development workshops. In this article, we hear from a student and host about what Dream Placement means to them.

When Abigail Caldow applied for Dream Placement in 2015 she didn't know what her next career step would be — a job, an apprenticeship or university. But by the end of her Dream Placement week she knew exactly what she wanted to do — she wanted to be a project manager.

Abigail was a pupil at the Workington Academy studying for A-levels in psychology, ICT, combined sciences, and AS-level biology.

She had never even heard of Cyclife — the company which eventually became her host for the half-term week early in 2016, and is now her employer.

She recalls: "I had decided to apply for Dream Placement but had no idea whether I would get through. The selection process was pretty challenging but at the same time fun and exciting, and it introduced me to lots of new ideas.

"It also gave me the chance to talk to Cyclife — part of EDF — during the businesses exercises and in the interviews, and I quickly decided I really wanted a placement there."

That placement confirmed her ambition to become a project manager and after completing her week with the company she was invited back to spend some more time with them, and eventually was offered an apprenticeship as a project co-ordinator.

She has completed the 2-year course in just a year to gain a Diploma in Project Management, and powered through the work to complete the Association of Project Management's Practitioner qualification.

Abigail explains: "Dream Placement literally changed my life. It provided the opening into Cyclife, has given me a job I love, and I am hoping to study for a degree in project management. Because I have a good job I have also been able to buy a house with my boyfriend; it all started with Dream Placement.

"I would recommend any young people to take part in Dream Placement because even if it does not lead to a job, the experience you gain is invaluable."

For Cyclife, taking part in Dream Placement has provided an invaluable opportunity to meet and get to know the brightest and best young people in Cumbria, according to Andrew Gibson Business & Engineering Support Manager.

"The programme is brilliant because the Centre for Leadership Performance does all of the preliminary work; contacting the young people and the schools and colleges, going through the applications, and managing the event where we get to choose our placement. There is no easier way of getting that sort of exposure to young talent.

"We definitely see involvement in Dream Placement as a worthwhile investment and it makes very good business sense. We obviously devote time and resources to participating in the selection process and ensuring the week is exciting and rewarding for our successful candidates. But our team share that excitement, and it is good to be giving young people new experiences that can help to shape their futures."

"Abigail proved to be an exceptional candidate and we were very lucky to be able to bring her into the company, but we have also in the last year recruited two other 18-year-olds.

"I am Cumbrian born and bred but worked away before returning ten years ago, and I feel privileged to be able to share my experience with young people here in Cumbria.

"The aim for Cyclife is to be a European leader for nuclear waste management and decommissioning, and these young people are going to help to get us there."

Andrew and Abigail are joining representatives from host companies, Dream Placement ambassadors and the CforLP team to visit sixth forms across the county to promote the scheme. Students have until the end of October to apply for their Dream Placement.

Read the article at

In Cumbria, September 12, 2017

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