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Tuesday, 11 March 2014
A total of twenty-five guest speakers visited Bolton School to pass on real-life career experience to the Year 12s. This was part of the Lower Sixth ‘World of Work’ Day: a morning of talks from professionals from a wide variety of careers, followed by an afternoon exploring the UCAS Higher Education Convention at Manchester Central.
The day was organised by the Careers Department to encourage Year 12 pupils to make an informed decision about their future. Whether that means university, work, a gap year, an apprenticeship, or another route entirely, they were asked to consider what the options mean for them as an individual. The ‘World of Work’ day helps to kick-start this process of research and consideration.
Katie Clinton was the day’s keynote speaker. Although she is now the Director of the Financial Audit Department at KPMG, as a former pupil of the Girls’ Division she maintains strong links with Bolton School. She gave a talk about her career timeline and her experience of sitting in the Year 12 students’ place, to give them perspective on what needs to be done today so that their careers can flourish in the future.
Katie changed her mind at the last minute before submitting her UCAS forms; instead of studying teaching as she had long planned, she went to UMIST to obtain a Business Management degree: a huge change, but one which she has never regretted. In light of this, she understands one of the common problems facing many Sixth Form pupils: that they don’t know what they want to do. She advised the students to research hard, not just about what to do next academically but also about where their choices may lead. She advocated the importance of using the people around them, from friends to teachers to the Careers Department, as a sounding-board for ideas. She reminded the Year 12s that a degree is not the only option, with many alternative routes available. She told them, “The wealth of opportunity available to you is greater than it has ever been, and you should take advantage of that.”
She also advised that, when it comes to applying for jobs, preparation and practice is the key. However, her number one piece of advice was this: “Be yourself. The organisation is buying you: you need to know what they are like, but they need to know what you are like as well. They are not looking for a well-rehearsed robot, but a genuine person.”
After Katie’s keynote speech, pupils dispersed to the various other talks that were going on throughout the morning. Each pupil could choose to attend three talks out of the twenty-four available. With options as diverse as Civil Engineering, Fashion, Finance and Accountancy, Broadcast Journalism, Law, Acting, and many more to choose from, there was something relevant for everyone!
The speakers included six more former pupils, who kindly gave up their time to speak to the Sixth Formers about their careers since leaving the school.
Old Girl Dr Joyce Tyldesley achieved a degree in archaeology, but then she went into accountancy as a ‘day job’. She then worked freelance as a ghost-writer for a number of tie-in books for television programmes. She also worked in a freelance capacity as a lecturer in Egyptology and Archaeology at night school, while still working in accountancy. This led her to where she is today: operating an online Egyptology course through Manchester University. This was a great opportunity for students to see the variety of options available from what seems to be a very specific degree course.
Ben Lomas, who left the Boys’ Division in 1994, offered pupils an insight into private banking. He spoke to pupils about the diverse areas and industries within private banking, including lending and foreign exchange. In particular he focused on his own speciality, investments. He spoke about the qualifications needed and the lifestyle they could expect from this particular career path, which would be helpful to those considering this for their future.
The pupils learned about Legal Executive Apprenticeships from Old Girl Raheela Cheema. Most students who take this route into law find a firm who is willing to fund their learning; however, Raheela has paid for the first year of her course herself, and her experience showed the pupils that this is also an option.
Old Boy and professional musician Arun Ghosh spoke to pupils about his career in music, and the hard work required to make it in such a tough industry. He explained that most professional musicians, himself included, have many different strings to their bow. Composing for television and adverts, teaching, and performance are just three of the various different avenues he uses to sustain his career. He told the pupils that a Bolton School teacher once advised him not to go into music, and admitted that in some ways he agrees with that: there is no room for doubt. However, he also encouraged those who have a vocation and passion for music should go for it!
A Dentistry talk was given by Old Boy Dr Imran Chhadat, along with his colleague from Synergy Dental Clinic, Dr Ai Ling. They spoke to the students about the realities of this line of work, and what is needed from an individual wishing to take this path.
Old Girls Sophia Saunders and Nicola Wilcock offered two talks in a slightly different style to the rest. Sophia spoke about the challenge of gaining a graduate job for the first time, and overcoming not being taken seriously. As young people who will ultimately be looking for work and then operating within the workplace, this was a really useful talk, full of insights that the Sixth Formers will surely find useful in years to come. Sophia spoke briefly about her own career history, from an English Language and Linguistics degree at Sheffield University to the Mitie Graduate Scheme. She has since then moved into a full-time position with Mitie, and has worked in three capacities since then. She told the students about her Graduate Scheme experience, and the challenges she has faced and overcome since then.
Nicola spoke to the girls about life after studying a non-vocational degree. After reading Theology at the University of Durham, she went on to become Centre Director at Explore Learning, and has since then joined the Future Leaders Programme at Unilever. It is sometimes hard for pupils who want to study a non-vocational degree to see future career options clearly. Nicola’s talk helped the pupils to realise that, as Katie said earlier in the morning, the degree itself is not the most important thing, and a non-vocational degree is a great option.
The morning as a whole was a really valuable experience and a chance for the students to ask questions and find out more about careers they are interested in. The afternoon’s trip to Manchester Central allowed them to scope out potential university choices, as well as see what apprenticeships and gap years options are available.
This is merely the start of a long journey for the Year 12s, but hopefully it has piqued their interest and will spur them on to begin their own research for the future.
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