Nik Cerutti is one of the co-founders and trustees of Insight Outreach. Nik graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge in 2018, with a degree in Natural Sciences. Nik started his career as a Senior Consultant at Newton Europe and is about to start a new role in the strategy team at M&S Food. Nik volunteers for Insight Outreach in his spare time.
My Story: Why Social Mobility is so important to me
Flashback to 2013. I am seventeen years old and studying for my A levels at a local state-funded sixth form college. My parents are separated, one of which I hadn’t been in contact with for two years, and the other I hadn’t lived with since I was a toddler. I’m living with my best friend and her mother on the outskirts of Nottinghamshire, and I aspire of going to Cambridge University.
Given my background, it was statistically unlikely that I would be considering a top university at all. Luckily, I was passionate, driven and did well in school. However, I was completely misinformed and misguided. At that time, I didn’t know a single person who had gone to Oxford or Cambridge. In fact, I’m not sure if I knew anybody except my schoolteachers who had gone to Russell Group universities. I had no idea what top universities were looking for, never mind the daunting Cambridge admissions process.
I was lucky to be accepted onto the Cambridge University Students’ Union Shadowing Scheme, as well as the Sutton Trust Summer School at Cambridge. Both of those experiences were invaluable in making me yearn for a place at Cambridge (motivating me to do my best in school), but also in informing me of what the process involved. Without the support of these initiatives, there is no way I would have known enough about the Oxbridge admissions process from my existing support networks, or have had the self-motivation, to have stood a chance of getting in.
Despite the odds, I received my offer to study Natural Sciences at Jesus College Cambridge in January 2014. A life changing moment which so easily could’ve been out of reach, if it wasn’t for the support of charities like the Sutton Trust.
However, it wasn’t until I was deep into my first year at Cambridge that I understood just how much of a disadvantage I had been at when applying, and just how different my new social circles were to anything I previously knew existed.
Looking back to my first-year summer at university, a lot of my university peers had some sort of work experience lined up. My friends and I from back home hadn’t really considered the value of those work experiences during our university summers and how challenging it would soon be to get a graduate job in the future without them. Having not known anyone go through university and the graduate job application process, we weren’t prepared for that. There was no one pushing us to start building up our CV. Did we think that just going to university was enough?
This is where the Social Mobility Foundation’s Aspiring Professionals Programme had such a positive impact on my life. It was as a student on this programme that I began to build an understanding of the challenges of getting into a top job, and why building up extracurricular experiences at university was so important. It was as a student on this programme that I developed the skills and confidence to succeed in top job applications. It was as a student on this programme that I was connected to networks within consultancy firms that were invaluable in enabling me to make a competitive application.
Organisations such as the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Foundation change the lives of thousands of young people like me each year. The collective drive behind such organisations to create futures that reflect a young person’s talents and not their background is so, so necessary.
This is why I am proud to have co-founded Insight Outreach. Each year we provide a platform to support young people, whose cards are stacked against them, to achieve their full potential. I am excited for the future of our charity, as we begin to offer experiences to our alumni at university to build up their skills and experiences for them to step into top graduate jobs. As we continue to grow, our supporters, ambassadors and partners are so important in enabling us to continue to impact the lives of so many young people who need our support.
Applications for our fifth cohort of students are open until 1st February 2022. Please share far and wide so we can make sure every young person who needs it receives the support they deserve.
We are always looking for more mentors to support our students. If you are interested, please complete our mentor application form. If you’d like to help out operationally, we’re also looking for operations volunteers to support our growth.
And finally, throughout 2022, we are actively seeking partnerships with corporates and aligned organisations to support our funding objectives and expand our programmes. If you are interested, please contact me directly.
Thank you for reading. Please get in touch with me if you have any questions about my story, or with any of the team if you have any questions about our programmes.