Meet Mikael Cohen: Our Sixth Form Careers Adviser
Our new careers adviser who has has joined the UTC with a wealth of first-hand experience, which he uses to give students the
Mikael Cohen was born in Leeds before coming to London at a young age with his mother, a single parent, and 2 brothers. Mikael had a few years of adjustment trying to fit in; He was a young Rasta boy with a Yorkshire accent and a Jewish name. After being taunted about his accent and to avoid further confrontation, he started helping the young children in nursery.
He later went to a secondary school which had a reputation for gangs and bad behaviour. Whilst his two brothers were academic, Mikael was not. Other students knew what they wanted for their future, but he had no idea what path he wanted to take.
Eventually, whilst his brothers took to a life of crime, Mikael’s life took a completely different path. He left home at seventeen to live in a hostel but continued doing volunteer work. Whilst at college (and working part-time at Primark) he volunteered in an after-school club in Southwark. He completed a Health and Social Care course: he was already volunteering at the after-school club and, since the age of thirteen, was helping his mother who ran holiday clubs for children with special needs in Lambeth.
After working at the after-school club for 2 years, the Head teacher approached him and asked if he would like to become a teaching assistant. For 3 years he worked as a TA as well as at the after-school service. He was sent on an NVQ level 3 course to become a manager, but was not enthusiastic about studying. He met a man at the after-school club who inspired him and mentored him, giving Mikael a new confidence. He became the manager of the after-school service, being recognised for his skills and achievements within the community. But Mikael was looking for a new challenge.
He was head-hunted by other schools to set up after school, breakfast and holiday clubs all of which were registered by Ofsted. He didn’t recognise his achievements until friends and colleagues approached him and congratulated him for setting up the clubs and getting them Ofsted registered in under a year. Mikael quickly became a valued member of the community.
He was the Extended Services Co-ordinator and began working with families. He began supporting black children in the schools, he became involved in child protection, he also attended safeguarding meetings for specific families after parents requested him to work with their children.
His roles within the schools kept changing and evolving. So, in 2015 he took a chance and started his own company GLIM (Guidance Leadership Inspiration and Motivation) and walked away from his job. The GLIM values, he believes, are that young people need to thrive and succeed – something he wishes he had at a young age.
GLIM now has three staff. The GLIM Community is about empowering others to contribute to the community.
Mikael met our Vice Principal, Rob Harding, at the University Academy of Engineering and shared his vision with him. Rob then invited Mikael to South Bank UTC where he is making a huge impact on sixth form students, giving them sound career advice and guidance. Mikael sees his role at the UTC as being able to reach out to the students, encourage and be a mentor to them.