Twenty-four year-old Anthony left school with only one GCSE, and went to work in road maintenance, and then as a delivery driver before being made redundant in January 2014. He was out of work for over four months before joining Street League’s North London Academy which is when Anthony’s life started to take shape. After securing a four-week work placement at Hyundai’s headquarters in High Wycombe, Anthony was subsequently offered a permanent role working in the company’s technical department. Here’s how it all came about…

What were you hoping to get out of joining the Street League Academy programme? A structure to my day. I’d got myself into a really bad routine of getting up late and not doing anything. So having a place to be every day and turning up on time was the first thing I needed.

How did the opportunity of a work placement with Hyundai come about? I was at a fundraising football tournament that Hyundai had organised with Street League. Each Street League participant from the Academy was put in a team with Hyundai employees and it was our opportunity to show teamwork, leadership, and how we communicated with others. After my first match I was interviewed by the company’s HR Advisor and had to answer questions about whether I was ready to go into work – which I said I was! 

What was your interest in working for the company? I wouldn’t say I was a car fanatic, I was just ready to take the opportunity. I didn’t know a lot about cars but I applied myself fully for the interview in terms of showing I was ready to commit full-time to work.

Did you have a sense it was going well, and why? I couldn’t have worked any harder during those four weeks, and the person who was managing me gave a hint that there might be an opportunity of paid work once my placement was over. But I wasn’t 100% sure. When I left I went straight into working as a labourer on a building site so I had some money which tied me over. But it was really demoralising. Going from being in a professional environment where I was learning every day, having really constructive conversations with people, wearing a suit and tie, to being in the freezing cold and digging holes, it was not good.

How did you find out about Hyundai offering you full-time employment? After my placement finished I was called back a few weeks later for an informal chat, and it was then that they asked if I wanted a job working in the technical department as a product quality advisor.

What was your reaction, and what was the reaction of friends and family? When I initially got the placement my mum was over the moon. It was a turning point in my life and we all felt it. My mum was brilliant because she made sure I had smart clothes to wear and supported me everyday by giving me money for food and travel. Then when I told them I’d got an actual paid job with Hyundai it was like a huge celebration. It’s something I’d never even dream of happening, or a place I’d be working. My mum and dad just have ordinary jobs, and now I’m at a company where I could possibly be travelling all over the world to work. I’m ready for everything and anything, and I’m excited about the future.

What advice would you give to other young people undertaking work placements? Give 100%. Whatever it is, take every opportunity to work hard and show you are committed. You never know what it might lead to.

How do you feel about starting the job? What is your role? I’m now based with the technical team as a product quality advisor, so my role is to investigate technical issues with any vehicles being processed and amend the problem as and when possible. Since I’ve started here I've gained a real interest in the industry and this year I’ll be going to the Hyundai Academy to be trained up as a mechanic. I want to learn as much as I can and I can't wait to get started.