You Press welcomes second cohort of ASPIRE Program

On the evening of Tuesday, July 25, You Press began its second term of the ASPIRE Program. 

Made up of 17 aspiring creatives with ages ranging from 16 to 30, the cohort will embark on a 15-week training programme exploring areas such as social mobility, personal and professional development, confidence and decision making, networking skills development and leadership. 

The program is designed to prepare aspiring creatives for freelance work and provide outreach and opportunity. The cohort will have the ability to collaborate with professional freelancers during the program.

The meeting was led by You Press Founder and Director Farah Mohammoud and Project Coordinator Madiha Noori. It consisted of introductions of the You Press staff and videos that helped to familiarize the participants with the social enterprise’s overall mission and past programs. 

To begin the session, Mohammoud asked everyone to get into groups and work together to bring a metal rod to the ground using only their fingertips. He manipulated how the group could communicate with one another and the amount of time they had to complete the task to promote collaboration, rule following, and rule questioning. Mohammoud used the activity as a metaphor for completing tasks set by employers. 

The participants then did a “reflection walk” by Royal Victoria Beach. The creative space was meant to help them reflect on their state of mind and aspirations as a freelancer. 

“Really be honest, this is your own journey of reflection,” Mohammoud said. “You can block out all the noise and just kind of focus on the calmness, you kind of get through what you’re looking for, and wanting you guys to also really utilize the space that we have as well.”

The cohort is made up of individuals with various aspirations and goals in the freelancing field. 

Grace, who is 18 years old, is passionate about videography, photography and other multimedia avenues. Through this program she said that she wants to expand her portfolio and brand. 

“[I hope to] start my own side hustle like a multimedia, small business, where I could take pictures, videos and then sell it,” said Grace. 

Ru, another participant, is 26 years old and pursuing graphic design and other creative work. “So, like I’m open to different modes, which is why this is perfect for me,” Ru said. 
“I feel like I want the confidence to show my portfolio to clients so I can actually get freelance work.”

Each group also discussed their values needed to be a freelancer. The shared values amongst the cohort were communication, collaboration, no gatekeeping, creativity, equity, supporting one another and last but not least, fun. 

“This is kind of like your early blueprint. And it’d be good to see like, if your opinions and thoughts and your aspirations evolve or change or adapt to the midpoint of the program and at the end,” said Mohammoud after the activity. 

The expectations for both You Press and the cohort were then outlined. You Press promised support, guidance, communication and equal opportunity throughout the program. 

“The limitation comes from your side, not from our side,” said Noori, encouraging everyone to utilize You Press’s resources. 

Mohammoud ended the session with a group activity outside where the cohort passed an unraveling ball of string between each other and said their takeaways from the session. This resulted in each person holding a piece of string, creating a web meant to represent the connections everyone is making with one another. 

By Jack Underhill, You Press Intern