Across the country, many people are receiving their A-level exam results & this started me thinking about my own fork in the road, some 29 years ago.
With the benefit of hindsight, I know that I shouldn’t have done the A-levels I did. When choosing my subjects, 16yo me was meant to know what I wanted to do with my future.
This is impossible. At 16, I barely knew what I wanted for breakfast and my choices reflected that.
I chose French & Spanish because I’d got A’s in GCSE but didn’t realise that the A-levels were about French & Spanish *Literature*, not making me more proficient in the spoken language. Business Studies seemed like the smart “I have no clue what to do with my life” option, so tagged it on.
I really wish that I had had the International Baccalaureate option – that would have been perfect for me. But hey, I scraped through and the results reflected that. Though I was pushed to go into Clearing, Uni was not an option for me and the School hated that I might blight their near perfect uni-entrant record.
So I took a year out to do a “sensible” secretarial course at the brand new Truro College, did some work experience at Radio Cornwall and ended up getting a job there.
I don’t regret not going to University because I would have gone for the wrong reasons. And let’s not forget about Student Debt!
On the up side, I temped at loads of different companies, doing a variety of contracts, so the experience I earned was phenomenal. I worked in bars, nightclubs, shops, call centres, as well as the standard admin-based ones.
There was a solo trip to the US to stay with my amazing uncles, leading to a jaunt to Hawaii (Uncle R was in travel!). So I don’t think I *missed out* on anything!
But am I happy with how things turned out career-wise?
Well, yes and no.
Personally, “Yes” because of the experience I’ve gained, the skills I’ve learned and an adaptability that only comes with seeking out gaps and filling them. I’ve also found out how resilient I am, given all the rejections I’ve received for jobs I could do standing on my head.
On the down side, I have no real qualifications apart from a truck-ton of experience and when an algorithm looks through my CV, I very rarely come up trumps. In fact, the amount of experience I have almost always puts me at a disadvantage: I’m not specialised enough in one particular area, the fact that I’ve had multiple jobs deems me unreliable for long term employment or the interviewer sees me as a potential job threat.
Would I change anything?
I’m not sure I could, after all I met my husband through a job that wouldn’t have come my way, if not for a certain set of circumstances that could have only happened from not going to University.
That said, if I could go back and impart some knowledge to my younger self, I’d tell the ‘me’ working at Radio Cornwall to take every opportunity – LEARN as much as you can and never say no to training, even if it wasn’t what you thought you wanted.
To this day, I regret not taking the journalism training I was offered but mainly I regret not standing up for myself when the Managing Editor told me that he wasn’t renewing my contract because I was “going to university”. I still don’t know where he got that from!
While pushing the digital products and template work with Awenek, I’m also going back to office work, part-time! I’m really looking forward to the camaraderie of an office again, especially since it’s for a local legal company that has a great reputation for staff welfare.
I love Awenek and the creative freedom it allows me but like most businesses at the moment, I’m having to adapt to stay afloat. Existing web clients will continue to receive the same service they’ve always had – or probably better as I’m leaving Jamie in charge while I’m out!
All in all, life has a wonderful way of offering you options and solutions. Keep your eyes open and believe in your abilities,
‘cos you got this…