Inspiring the Future | Volunteering at Student Beans With Lucy Gray

In this blog, we hear from Senior Product Analyst Lucy Gray about her the volunteering that she’s done with Student Beans.

“Inspire means to excite, encourage, or breathe life into”

Data is something I’ve always had a passion for. Simply put, collecting and analysing data brings me joy. Translating that data into useful information and beautiful stories to drive businesses forward excites me!

Working with Inspiring the Future gives me the opportunity to share that excitement. To share that passion. To show the next generation how they can challenge Gender Stereotypes and dabble in the world of data if they love it as much as I do.

What is Inspiring The Future?

Inspiring the Future is an incredible organisation that I’ve volunteered with for years. The idea behind it is to make a difference to children and young people in your local community and beyond by broadening horizons and raising aspirations.

Speaking to people with different jobs is a simple way to bring learning to life for children and show them the range of opportunities available to them.

Why does it mean so much to me?

From a young age, I knew I wanted to work with technology and user behaviours, but none of my family are tech savvy. 

Coming from a low-income background meant I didn’t have many opportunities to learn about the world of tech and it just wasn’t something the rest of my family had an interest in. That didn’t stop my parents from supporting every decision and doing everything they could to get me where I needed to be. I knew I needed access to a laptop at home from the minute my teacher introduced me to User Demographics in high school and asked us to design a website with a specific demographic in mind. My mum understood my passion and helped me apply for some high achiever grant and through my hard work in school I was able to get a fully funded laptop! I used it to research courses and certifications that I could work towards.

Most of my classmates went to the same college, enrolled in the same A-levels and didn’t have a clue what they wanted to do. Me? I applied for one course. It was a Digital Communications course…nailed the interview and off I went, completely by myself, to a college over the water to start my tech journey.

Fast forward a few years and I was in charge of organising the department-wide Volunteer Week and stumbled upon some opportunities with Inspiring the Future. So off to Blackpool I went, delivering a workshop on Marketing and Data to a few classes of Year 4-6. After this, I realised what an incredible impact I could make just by taking some time to talk to children about the opportunities they have.

I have always been detail-orientated and had a passion for storytelling, and and can pick up any kind of techy skill if I put my mind to it. Over the years I’ve built websites and custom audiences, designed paid media, and coded emails.

My enthusiasm for the digital world didn’t stop there as I started to enjoy building user-friendly dashboards, and conducting competitor research. I’ve even had the chance to transfer my SEO knowledge to optimise apps in the app store (ASO) and from there, my user behaviour interest piqued as I started to understand more about usability and got to analyse some very interesting user research labs… you get the picture.

Understanding is key 

Fast forward to now and here I am telling you all that the evidence shows it is effective. Sharing your story and experience with children and young people has a real and lasting impact.

About six years ago, my Head of Department told me that understanding is key. If you can’t simplify something enough to explain it to a five year old then you simply do not understand it well enough.

Data is complex but the foundation of data analysis is simple. During my volunteering, I gave the children two bags of sweets clearly labelled. I asked them to count the type of sweets and the number of sweets, then translate their findings into data visualisation.

My table was BOOMING: the kids were drawing bar charts, pie charts, even infographics! I had over 50 pages to review and I told them that the best visualisations would get a prize. I ended up choosing three because I loved the creativity. One of them even delivered the insight: “The Parma Violets have more of a percentage than the drumsticks and lollies.”

Summary of my day

  • Kids want to know more about your job, they just don’t know how to ask
  • Lollipops are the crowd-pleaser. Love Hearts… not so-loved…
  • Kids are crafty when it comes to sweeties – they’ll be volunteering to grab more paper and explain your job to the other kids if you pay them with RED lollipops

Want to get involved? 

I’m so grateful to Student Beans for allowing me to take time out of my day to volunteer. Not only have I been able to get out of my social comfort zone but I was able to truly show these children that data can be fun and interesting.

Also, shout out to the perks of working fully remote with unlimited annual leave and the opportunity to keep my dressing gown on ALL DAY (if I want to!).If you want to learn more and see what opportunities are in your area then register here.

We have ambitious goals and a thrilling journey ahead, so we’re looking for driven, creative people to join our fast-growing team. Please visit our careers site to see current openings.’

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