‘Sometimes you may feel knocked down but you’re certainly not knocked out!’
Shanice Shields is currently a graduate global public affairs (GPA) intern for Citi. She was part of the Evening Standard’s The Estate We’re In’ campaign. The campaign aims to help improve life on London estates by tackling issues such as unemployment, crime and health.
Firstly, tell us a bit about your background – where you come from, what school was like for you etc.?
I am originally from Brixton, I grew up in South London where I have spent the majority of my life having attended both primary and secondary school there, I have a strong connection with the area. I grew up in a Jamaican household full of culture. My cultural background is of mixed heritage; Jamaican, Chinese and Scottish. I struggled with my identity growing up, especially during secondary school where we experienced conflicts because of race, in relation to the various skin tones and the preconceptions that surround this. For example, I am considered relatively fair-skinned as a black woman.
School was very memorable for me in terms of my experiences; I wasn’t always the best behaved, I often felt alone despite being in the ‘popular crowd’. I quickly developed a thick skin at School, here I constantly fought to defend myself emotionally and physically from different situations that teenagers often face during these crucial years. I never recognised the positive influence I could have on my peers until later on, through friendships, both good and bad and work experience. After leaving school, I had time to reflect on this.
Being in the popular crowd sometimes led to distractions, I often felt that school was tedious and served little purpose for surviving in the real world, however, I then was selected for a place on a program for a talented student as my grades were strong. This, at the time, I despised as it meant I had to stay after school when I really just wanted to hang out with my friends. Looking back now, one could say education truly sent me on the right path.
How did you hear about the Evening Standard Campaign, The Estate We’re In initiative for London?
I was involved with the campaign from the very beginning. A close childhood friend was killed in very unfortunate circumstances, prior to his death he set up boxing workshops for the young boys in the area. A handful of his friends and family including myself decided to continue his legacy. Collectively, we wanted change for the area of Angell Town and to gain facilities to help the young people of the estate.
My friend’s mother organised an evening for us to attend and voice the current issues facing young people. Both Our local MP and the campaign editor for Evening Standard were invited to join us. Unknown to me at that time, we were being assessed for the selection process for potential funding. I took the role of leading the youth management team and voiced our opinions, hopes and concerns.
From this point we collaborated together as a team bound by the loss of someone we all deeply loved and our movement quickly gathered. After being selected to present the business proposal to potential funders I was nervous but excited about the potential change ahead.
Before I knew it we were spending time with the campaign editor of the Evening Standard and we gained more support than anticipated, something I am still very grateful for.
Describe your current role at Citi?
I am a graduate intern within Citi’s global public affairs team (GPA) . I work closely with the branding and marketing team on various projects, liaise with key stakeholders across 55 countries in Europe Middle East and Africa. I would definitely say my role is exciting, you get to work with different teams, and find out more about working culture around the world.
How have you found the ‘world of work’? Is it different to what you had expected?
The world of work can be demanding and challenging in terms of working hours but it is definitely what I anticipated. I did gain experience of working in a corporate environment in my early years at college but never really appreciated the opportunity at the time, I was still very young.
I’m wiser now and ready to start climbing that ladder. This is my first full time role since leaving university, I have found it to be an extremely enriching experience and I am practically learning everything first hand. I have been given a number of projects to handle independently which has motivated me even further towards my goals.
What advice would you give to other young girls who have recently started, or are looking to start their careers?
The first thing I would say to all the young girls and any young men starting their careers is be patient. No matter how much you think you may know you’re always learning, so be patient and don’t feel that you’re not succeeding just because you have not achieved the success you want straight away. The second thing I would say is listen to everything, soak up advice like a sponge. Whether you are participating in a meeting or having a regular conversation with peers, always try your best to understand people and their different approaches etc. This is a great way to guarantee a real learning curve from your role.
Whichever industry you’re aspiring to move up in always keep updated with the trends and read up on what is happening in the sector you are in.
Follow key opinion makers on social media so you are always up to speed.
My final piece of advice would be to find a mentor – someone who you admire career wise and a person who you admire in day to day life. I think it is always important to have a mentor even if it is an unofficial one. I have some great mentors in my life who continue to guide and advise me. I learn so much from them because they often have similar experiences so have the relevant level of understanding and wisdom. Guidance is definitely a key aspect when starting your career because in the real world you’re still a baby who is growing and maturing each day.
Life is full of experiences and sometimes you may feel knocked down sometimes but you’re certainly not knocked out! So get up and try again, harder if needs be.
What are you career aspirations for the future?
My future career aspirations – Oh well I hope there will be many great opportunities for me in the future. The idea of working for a business (be it established or my own) across an international landscape is one that certainly appeals to me.