UCL Academy student offered job after one week of work experience

Kareen Muhammed outside The Hundred Acres toy shop with owner Asia Burrows. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Kareen Muhammed outside The Hundred Acres toy shop with owner Asia Burrows. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Throughout August, teenagers from UCL Academy gave up a week of their holiday to gain valuable work experience at a variety of Hampstead businesses.

But for one student from the new secondary school, in Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage, a week was enough to secure her a job.

Kareen Muhammed, 17, worked at The Hundred Acres toy store, in Heath Street, Hampstead, from August 13 to 20 as part of UCL Academy’s pilot work experience programme.

The Year 13 pupil impressed shop owner Asia Burrows so much that she was offered a paid position as a sales assistant.

Kareen, who has now returned to UCL Academy to begin studying for A-Levels, will take up the job during the half-term break.

Reflecting on her week at the store, she said: “I had to put stock in the inventory but I was serving customers as well. I had to put myself in different customers’ shoes to work out how to approach them and make a sale.

“My highlight was selling a large giraffe to a TV producer who came in because he wanted to film the shop in a scene he was shooting. He liked the giraffe so much, he bought it!”

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Shop owner Ms Burrows added: “Kareen’s a great worker. She has a nice personality – she is fun and is good with customers. Personally, I’m not always easy and she can cope with me! She’s really great.”

The work experience programme was organised in partnership with Hampstead Shops Campaign, which organised placements for other UCL Academy pupils at Hampstead Butchers and Providores, in Rosslyn Hill, La Coqueta kids clothing store, in Heath Street, Joule jewellers, in Flask Walk, and Ginger & White coffee shop, in Perrin’s Court.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of Hampstead Shops Campaign, said: “The participating traders are making this investment in their community because they understand not simply the value of the experience which they can give but also that, by giving something back to the community, which keeps their businesses going, they are investing in their own futures.

“Without the community, there is no business. They understand that and, in this small step, are saying ‘thank you’ to the community.”

Robin Street, deputy headteacher at UCL Academy, which opened last year, said: “From a student point of view, the work experience scheme is about ensuring that, while we have the academic drive and ambition, we are supporting the development of a young person and producing students who are ready for the working world rather than just passing exams.

“Kareen being offered a job after one week’s work experience shows exactly the kind of opportunities we want to provide for our students.”