We work with people at different stages of their professional life in need of motivation. Some are looking for their vocation or more meaningful work, others just need that extra bit of support and advice to turn their ideas into reality.
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We believe in what we do, as do those who’ve tried us. You can find out for yourself by checking out our participant feedback, tweets, blog posts and video testimonials.
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“‘Eyes Wide Opened’ is the course and people who can change your life. The only question is how soon it will happen… And how open and ready you are for it… I can wholeheartedly recommend their courses to anybody who thinks about career change and wants to explore different opportunities.”
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Read the stories of past participants who gained a clearer idea of their direction in life (and, in several cases, secured fulfilling jobs) thanks to EWO.
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27 yr. old marketing and digital media specialist Melinda has worked in fashion and online retail since graduating in 2010. She spent five days with EWO in 2012 after questioning (after two years of short-term junior roles) whether fashion was the right industry for her next career move.
She sought a clear plan of how to approach her next job search, and whether to stay in a tough industry with long hours and little apparent reward or progression for new graduates.
“I felt at the time as if finding a decent role in fashion was impossible. I’d been made redundant and felt as if I offered either too much or too little experience wherever I turned.”
“My week with Eyes Wide Opened gave me a huge confidence boost. The active listening sessions and the conversations about using your entire networks were memorable and I still apply the coaches’ advice today. I also found the work around connecting your career aims back to your values and beliefs really useful – it helps you not only define why you have certain ‘leanings’ , but also why other people might behave so differently to you.”
In 2016 Melinda made the bold decision (after “no break between school, Uni, first job”) to quit the London rat race and realise a long-held ambition to move to Berlin. She planned the move without a role in mind and stayed open to ideas. As she was preparing, a spontaneous application to online fashion retail giant Zalando led not only to an immediate interview in Berlin, but a promotion within the interview and the offer of a position in a more senior role than she applied for…
Now, in 2017, after a year a senior digital strategist there, she is happy with her work-life picture.
“It’s been a challenging year as it was my first management role, but I really enjoy leading a team of very different personalities and creating a culture of fairness that respects people’s different values and ’starting points’. I’m also constantly impressed by the access I have to such vast resources that a company of this scale (11,000 employees in 15 markets) can offer.
“Looking back, the EWO experience was an invaluable opportunity to work out ‘how I worked’ and what might suit me best. It’s also a great place to reflect on how you come across. So much of today’s judgmental online world involves being taken at face value and I think young people launching their careers need to consider how they present themselves in every type of situation, on and offline. There’s a lot of ‘oversharing’ going on and we can forget that any employer and any future business contact will always be able to find that unwise post or photo…”
After graduating in film and media production and spending two years in roles that didn’t fulfil him, Tom (now 29) attended a two-day EWO course in 2015.
“I’d graduated with a First, believing it would get me on track, but instead I was somehow ‘lost’ and on an inward spiral, with no obvious career or life direction. I heard about the course through a relative, and the timing was ideal. I’d taken some temporary post-Uni roles, run a pub, and fallen into a role that meant I’d spent 15 months in a sales role at a chemicals company (I thought I should accept a ‘proper job’ when it came up). I was sitting with my back to the A38 all day and feeling very trapped.
“The two days with the coaches, and even the pre-work, where I had to ask family and friends for feedback on my ‘impact’ and my strengths, created a real shift in my perspective and made me take ownership of my situation. I had wondered if I could justify spending two days reflecting on my life and my plans, but it proved a crucial investment: it changed the way I thought about myself and it definitely changed what I did next!
“EWO helped me readdress how I thought of my employability and my skills, and rebuilt my confidence. Before I’d been thinking in very practical terms of what I was ‘good or not good at’ – I didn’t regard myself as having much to offer that could be of any greater value to someone over anyone else… After EWO I was able to recognise my ‘true’ abilities and values, and see my career as an evolving journey – not a fixed route to an unknown point years from now that I was desperately trying to reach.
“The drawing exercise (creating a picture of my life and concerns/hopes) was a useful way to visualise my state of mind. It ended up being quite elaborate. This, and a valuable discussion with Alastair about how to channel my experiences and use them to help others in the same situation, were kind of lightbulb moments.
“EWO made me see that career planning should be about the ‘Why’ more than the ‘What’. It proved I wanted to work in compassionate roles where I could make a difference. I realised the future should be about being true to my values and my desire to support people, not about job titles.”
A couple of months after the EWO course, Tom left the chemicals firm to pursue a three-month volunteering role in Bangladesh – an experience he had wanted for a long time but ignored for ‘real jobs’. Motivated by EWO, and finally seizing this opportunity, Tom reconnected with his values and skills, and restored a sense of purpose and direction. Soon after returning he became an Enterprise Co-ordinator for the Government–backed Careers & Enterprise Company to help school-leavers realise their potential, and in early 2017 began a role with the University of Cambridge to help under-privileged young people access higher education. He also began volunteering with the Samaritans.
“EWO helped me grow and gave me courage and confidence. I’m no longer a ’drifting passenger’! I feel I’ve turned things around, and really enjoyed ‘the journey’ since! I no longer feel trapped in myself.
“If you’re facing career indecision or despair, you have to be willing to do some quality introspection. It empowers you, gives you fresh perspective and helps you find your own answers.”
28-year old puppetry specialist Matt has worked solidly since graduating from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in 2011. He spent five days with EWO in 2012 in order to reflect on career plans and prepare his next move. He looks back on the course as a great foundation and still draws on the storytelling, active listening, networking and negotiation skills he learned from the coaches.
“It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever spent. Friends tried to tell me that I didn’t need it, but it was really useful reflection time and gave me a career planning toolkit that I’m still using nearly five years later.”
Since winning a bursary from the Discover Story Centre in 2016, even more new work opportunities have opened up, following time spent shadowing and consulting established peers in theatre production. Matt remains happily immersed in fulfilling work as a puppetry specialist and puppetry director, adviser and consultant.
“It’s been a year of active reflection. I’ve realised just how many transferable skills I’ve managed to develop in this artistic but also very entrepreneurial existence as a freelance one-man band. My career has evolved from designing and making puppets for theatres to helping all types of theatre production teams make important decisions about how puppets can be used. Everyone has different terms of reference for what’s essentially your skillset, and I’ve learned that you don’t have to have just one label – it’s actually about being comfortable with your own unique skills and networks. It’s like a great cake mix and over time you develop all sorts of intertwining ingredients.
“Now in 2017, I’m still doing exactly what I want to be doing, I’ve made a wish list of work areas I’d still like to explore and I know I can find opportunities to make things happen. I’ve got goals, but they’re flexible, because in this less reliable, less fruitful climate, my planning has to be more elastic.
“Since EWO, and especially thanks to the presentation coach Lynn Blades, I spent time honing my ‘elevator pitch’, and that definitely helped me land work projects. I realised just how important ‘first impact’ is, as well as showing great energy to everyone you deal with.”
Portfolio career-fan Alanna, 31, came to England from Jamaica in 2007 with a passion for performance and a career background of broadcasting, event planning, singing and voiceovers. After graduating in 2008 from Central School for Speech & Drama with a Masters in Music Theatre, she sought opportunities for performance roles in London, but the going was tough. “I learned a lot about performance and technique on the course, but felt less prepared for the real world of UK theatre and the typical patterns of trial and rejection that are so common and so discouraging. I felt like I was having to start over again, as all the experience and skills I brought from Jamaica were somehow not recognised as being valid or relevant.” She landed a few acting and assistant teaching roles but needed to focus. “The EWO experience came at the right time for me. I badly needed to re-examine my career-seeking journey and to somehow re-discover parts of myself that I was simply not using. It challenged me to be true to my own values and beliefs in terms of what suits me and crucially, I came out with a broader perspective of networking as not some kind of ‘fake small talk’ but a really important reciprocal process that I should invest in more.” Three years on in 2015, the networking is paying off. Alanna enjoys a creative mix of projects in her life, some income-earning, some in the seedling phase, but all of them feeding her passions of creativity, media and the performing arts. Her education roles have taken a back step: “It’s not what I moved to London to do.” Now she is a core member of the London Community Gospel Choir, she writes scripts and presents newscasts for her local church, writes a faith-based personal blog ‘A Water Lily’ on WordPress, is a consultant for a vegan health and beauty business and is developing her own YouTube channel. “For me, finding your purpose and the right career is influenced hugely by having a clearer sense of your signature strengths, gifts and abilities, so it’s not just about what’s easy or convenient – but what truly ignites you. The EWO advice that stays with me the most to this day is to be true to your core beliefs and values – I really had to do an integrity check when I sensed I was in the wrong place working in education – I could feel my own light getting dim. I strive to take the necessary steps forward each day and can honestly say I’m on my way!”
Madrid-based journalist Olaya flew to London in 2015 to spend two days with Eyes Wide Opened. When she returned to Spain, inspired as much by the courageous life stories of fellow participants as by creative group work with the coaches, she resigned from her full-time journalism role and started a determined journey of her own.
“I was inspired to meet EWO by a Financial Times piece I read about your coach Dick Mullender. His fascinating career shift from hostage negotiator to listening skills facilitator and presenter made me curious. I’d been in journalism and communication for 15 years, a period of phenomenal change in how technology affects the way we communicate. I wanted to start something of my own, but I had a blind spot about what I was capable of.
“The EWO course pre-work was revealing. Friends and family cited traits about me that I would never have thought were prominent. I simply didn’t have the image of myself that some others had of me. The results of that exercise alone allowed me to be more creative in how I think about my work.
“The coaches helped me clarify my next steps. I resigned from my job when I returned and now, in 2017, I have finally become a practising freelance data journalist. There have been rough times, but keeping my goal in mind helped me navigate through them. The last year and a half has been a time of discovery about my own capabilities and strengths. I’m happy with what I have achieved so far – it’s quite a lot for a rather short period of time – but it’s still work in progress.
“An EWO memory I especially cherish is how the coaches made me aware of the versatility hidden in my profile. When I arrived I thought of my professional self as something monolithic, carved in stone, that somehow held me down. When I left 48 hours later I’d discovered a completely new range of possibilities I’d have never considered. I came back to Madrid full of confidence about my ability to start a new professional path – and to succeed.”
Olaya’s decision to go solo has even inspired close friends to reconsider their working lives, to question the meaning of work and, she reports, possibly quit their own jobs!
“Somehow the course sets your mind into a mode of empowering yourself, trying new things. It exceeded my expectations and has reawakened an old goal. EWO has taught me that you should look for a job – or professional career – that suits your personality, not just your education.”