Overnight, a local charity almost lost everything.
Worktree’s mission is to help school-aged kids learn about new careers. Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, their local in-school programming was going smoothly. When schools shut down in 2020, the team worried their journey was over.
However, with the help of Willo, the charity has not only been able to keep delivering on their mission but they’ve expanded their horizons.
Here’s how their story went from horror to growth.
A COVID-19 blow
“Our vision is to help students see what they can be,” said Theresa Mercer, HR manager at Worktree.
To accomplish this mission, Worktree used to run in-person events in elementary schools called “Career Workouts.” The events consisted of a 3-5 person panel where each person would explain what they do for work, why they like their work, and the skills or training necessary to do what they do. Then students would be able to ask questions.
The COVID-19 pandemic decimated that event model overnight.
Working exclusively from corporate sponsorship and school payments - despite being a charity, Worktree does not receive regular government funding - Theresa and the team were concerned the lost revenue would destroy the foundation they’d built.
“At first it was companies that didn’t want their guests going into schools in early 2020 because of this novel virus going around,” said Theresa. “Then the schools closed in March and Worktree was basically dead in the water.”
Recorded interviews to the rescue
The team quickly moved to Zoom-based Career Workouts, which offered at least some of the benefits they’d been able to deliver in-person. But it wasn’t enough, and the team was concerned that losing the in-person connection (and the revenue that went with it) would hurt both the charity and students long-term.
While planning for an eventual in-person return, Theresa and the Worktree team stumbled upon Willo and came up with an idea: 'how could pre-recorded content make their Career Workouts more engaging?'
Solution 1: Pre-recorded elements to live Career Workouts
Before the pandemic, people would introduce their careers live, in-person. Using Willo, Worktree started pre-recording the basic questions - what do you do, why, etc. - and sharing those videos first during virtual Career Workouts.
After students watched the short clips, panelists were available live for Q&A and conversation via Zoom. That, said Theresa, made the content much more engaging - panelists could focus on live conversation and connecting with kids versus explaining what they do over and over.
“Willo made it easy for us to pre-record some elements of our virtual Career Workouts, which made the live Zoom portions a lot more engaging,” said Theresa.
(PS - Anyone in the world can apply to be a panelist at a 40-minute Worktree virtual Career Workout)
Solution 2: Career Snapshot Libraries
On top of live Zoom Career Workouts (and future in-person Workouts), the team thought about creating a standing library of short interviews. This way more people could get involved and students could check out the library any time between Career Workout events. For this element, the team relies exclusively on Willo.
“Worktree operates in Milton Keynes, which meant that our in-person Career Workouts could only host folks locally or people who were willing to commute into our town,” said Theresa. “With everyone working remotely, Willo made it possible to share career paths from all over the world that students in Milton Keynes might not otherwise have exposure to.”
(Everyone is invited to submit their own Career Snapshot to add to the library. You can check it out on their Career Snapshot page.)
Theresa is excited to get back into the classroom, noting how it’s far better for kids to get to see real, live people in their classroom versus over a Zoom screen. However, while they are excited to ditch Zoom in the future, Willo will remain a staple in Worktree’s growth plans as it continues to power their Career Snapshot Library.
Using Willo has even opened growth opportunities outside of Milton Keynes. Since Worktree isn’t reliant on local government money, they can explore corporate sponsorship opportunities in different counties throughout the UK.
This not only means more opportunity to make an impact, but more scale: the Career Snapshot Library is accessible anywhere in the world, meaning more young kids can see all the types of careers they can take on in life.
“Willo is just so easy to use,” said Theresa. “It’s built for job interviewing, but the reality is it applies to any kind of interviewing. So it’s a perfect fit for us interviewing people to share their career stories with young kids.”