DofE stories

Eleanor Van der Zanden

Eleanor Van der Zanden is an outgoing and ambitious individual who relishes a challenge and an active lifestyle. She participated in all three Awards through her air cadet squadron, as she explained, “My air cadet squadron really supports the DofE and encourages everyone to take part, not only because it helps develop and demonstrate key life skills and looks good on your CV, but because it is a fun and challenging Award for all who take part.”

Eleanor’s key motivation for participating in her DofE Award was the variety of skills she would acquire and develop, which would stand her in good stead for her future career. She commented; “Having a DofE  Award shows great perseverance, dedication and personal motivation, which is appreciated by interviewers for universities, as well as potential employers. I felt like ticking off each section was a small success towards completing my DofE and a success for my personal development.”

Talking about the specific skills she gained through DofE that will support her in her future career as a doctor in the military, Eleanor continued, “The practical expedition skills I have learnt will be invaluable for my future career in the military, along with key workplace skills, such as self-awareness, leadership and communication. Furthermore, the confidence I have developed through the DofE has certainly helped me in gaining four university offers to study medicine.”

Eleanor is a great example of someone who has used her DofE experience to boost her employability. Participating in activities throughout her Award which were based around her air cadet squadron and her future career in the military really impressed her interviewers, as she explained; “The Award interested the gruelling medical school interviewers greatly and strengthened my performance by giving me concrete examples of leadership, teamwork and empathy.”

Eleanor took up a musical instrument as part of her Skills section for her Bronze Award and played in the squadron’s band and ensemble. She also worked towards achieving a BTEC in Aviation Studies for her Silver and Gold Awards.

Still very much involved with the DofE, Eleanor is a mentor for the younger cadets in her squadron beginning their DofE Awards. She also leads the circuit training sessions for the Physical section of the Award and still volunteers at the same day centre at which she completed her Volunteering section.

Eleanor recognises the  positive impact  that a DofE Award has on young people’s employability prospects; “Through the DofE programme young people develop the skills and knowledge required to become well rounded individuals with the confidence to lead a team and challenge themselves. Universities and employers are interested in the qualities and attributes gained by participating in DofE, which I have no doubt help lead to greater achievements as young people progress into their careers.”

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