I’m up early and feeling the pleasant pressure of attending and presenting a careers talk hosted by Belper School. It’s the second year running for me. It is a great opportunity to share my career path to date with the students, and relate the many tales and lessons I’ve learned along the way.
So they’re in their final couple of years of secondary education – what should be their key takeaways?
1. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do
Not many people do when they’re in school. Start by acknowledging your natural skills. They can’t be taught and will stay with you for life.
“Due to a naturally persuasive personality, my grandad always said I should be a politician. Politics was definitely not for me, so I interpreted that observation as lending itself to me becoming a barrister or marketer!” #iamamarketer
2. Out of school activities are critical in developing the necessary social skills to secure a job
They’re the first things to go on your CV. Document them now and appraise the skills you have – they’ll equip you with what to take forward into your future career.
“I cared for the elderly, taught dancing, enjoyed Girlguiding and played badminton. All these activities illustrated that I’m a great team player and leader, as well as confident, caring and funny with a #drivenpersonality.”
3. Brace yourself to work hard
The minute you can earn money, get out there and do it. Wash pots, volunteer, deliver newspapers – whatever it takes to show future employers that you’re a grafter.
“Working from the age of 15, I’ve never had a week where I’ve not been proud of earning my own money.” #showthemyoumeanbusiness
4. Enjoy the journey and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Mistakes are there to help you learn. With each mistake you’ll get closer to achieving your long term career goals.
“I chose a combined degree in Law and Marketing. Very quickly I learned that a career in Criminal Law wasn’t not for me. I spent 3 years knowing that half my degree would not be utilised in my future career.” #toughlesson
5. Take early direction on how to write a good cover letter – make it personal and relevant to the employer and the job you’re after
The CV and qualifications will come together (with hard work). But trust me when I say that as an employer potentially looking at over 200 CV applications for a single job, it’s the cover letter that stops you in your tracks. It forces you to say “I really like the sound of this person and I really want to meet them.” No CV nurtures this kind of emotion.
All in all…
Following my session, I reminded students of how important it was to build on their natural skill sets and to get them documented on paper now. The students of Belper School are an absolute credit to their school. Looking at their feedback below, they are more than equipped to embark on this the next stage of their career – whatever that career path may be.