This is the concluding post of our ‘From the Talent Bank’ series where we catch up with our Employability Team on their Top Tips on starting work. First up was Amy Dicks, who talked about the importance of having a friendly attitude and smile, then Kristina Kand wisely advised students to keep options open when applying for jobs; and Hristina Simeonova encouraged new job-starters to be curious and ask questions when unsure.

Today we hear from Alessandra Lauria, Employer Engagement and Enterprise Coordinator. This post will be a little different from our previous posts, as sadly, Alessandra will be leaving the Career Development Centre in July. Let’s find out about her career journey as we say farewell to her.

Alessandra, can you share with us your highlights of your time working at the CDC? What did you learn about yourself?

‘I have many highlights about working here! For example, I designed, planned and organised the first Talent Bank event, with 50 students and 10 external employers. I also got promoted to my current role quite quickly and coordinated a series of Careers events, including the Careers in News and Publishing panel. I have been loving the opportunity to inspire young people by providing 1-2-1 career advice for a better career future. I love being around students – probably my favourite part of my job!

I learned a lot during this year and half for sure – especially what it means working in a big and structure institution. My job has been made easier thanks to the wonderful team of colleagues I got and the support of my manager. I will definitely miss them!’

Apart from your role in the Employability Team, I hear that you have been working on another venture..? And that you’re leaving us to focus on your new project?

‘Yes, that’s right! Alongside my 9am – 5pm full-time job I started a project called Chuffed and Stuffed – bespoke Italian pop-ups Events. I have been wanting to start a food project for a long time, but I’ve always been a bit scared to do so until the end of last year. It has been a lot of work, but all our events have been sold out and it was featured on TimeOut! I was even contacted by Heals to deliver three events for them in February for their Italian Campaign, which was very successful and built strong relationship with the CEO. Now, it is the time to take my food projects onto another level and dedicate all my energies to make it grow.

I am very thankful for my Westminster experience. I am now looking forward to drive things forward, use my creativity, strategic and consulting skills to make bigger projects happen’

A lot of students may have brilliant ideas that they want to turn into a business. What would you say is the first step?

‘Come up with an idea, do your market research, start even if it is not the perfect and ultimate product or service. Start small and fail fast! Your business will not necessarily be what you thought it would because you will find what’s right along the way. It is a journey, but you don’t have to give up!’

What has been the most challenging aspect of running your own venture?

‘Definitely time! Working full-time is very difficult for starting a new venture – especially when I don’t have a co-partner yet. But I guess it is good if you don’t have so much savings and need a bit of financial stability when you try to pursue your dreams. Running a business is one of the most challenging experiences in life but one of the most rewarding, even if it fails. You end up learning a lot and you will do better next time.’

Finally, what is your top tip for those who would like to work for themselves, considering your experience from starting Chuffed And Stuffed?

‘It is good to have a business plan to stay focused, but most importantly try to remember to give time to your soul and body – so dedicate some time for yourself and seeing friends and family to energise.

Also, if you don’t have a business partner, get yourself a mentor or a coach. There are a lot of professionals out there that are willing to support you and enable you grow and reach your dreams.’

Thank you Alessandra. We wish you all the best in your new venture with Chuffed and Stuffed!

There is a lot of help out there if you would like to start your own business. Did you know that we have launched the Creative Enterprise Centre based in Harrow? Further, sign up here to be paired with an experience professional who can mentor you. You can also book an appointment via Engage to see our Business Coach Elishba Zachariah for one-to-one advice.

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