The contemplation of committing three years of your life and £22,000 to studying something you don’t care that much about can induce a dangerous state of existential crisis. Students in Years 12 and 13 are most likely familiar with this feeling. I would encourage you to ask one of these students ‘What are your plans for next year?’, but I don’t want to be held accountable for the breakdown that may follow.
I was one of these students this time last year. I struggled with the structure of Sixth Form and the classes just didn’t engage me despite the great teachers delivering them. I viewed it that I’d outgrown schooling – it just wasn’t an exciting form of learning for me and I could see my education beginning to grind to a halt. It became evident that University wouldn’t be an option for me so I decided to take action before I got stuck with zero offers.
I had an interest in creative media but had never taken any related subjects in school, so I started watching ‘how-to’ YouTube videos on photography, video editing and anything I thought could help me expand my skillset.
Over time I grew in confidence and approached my part-time job (a local small business) and went over what I thought I could offer in a full-time position; boosting their social media presence and marketing activities. Thankfully they said “yes” and we met with a college to set up an apprenticeship course that lined up with what I’d be doing in my job. Just like that I’d cemented my plans for post-sixth form life.
I started my job the day after my last A-Level exam and haven’t looked back since.
It’s been a great place to grow my knowledge in business and marketing which has given me the skills I need to set up my own photography business outside of work hours. I established myself by offering photography for sports clubs, events and weddings at low prices to secure work. Once I had a history of clients and a portfolio to back me, I ended up having customers approach me; to the point that I began turning people away as I just didn’t have the time to balance putting 100% into working with them and my 9-5 job.
Your careers adviser is most likely well connected with local businesses; I went to mine and she organised a meeting with the director of a media agency. The most valuable experience you can get is from somebody who is already where you want to be.
The purpose of my story is to try and encourage you to explore some of the options available outside of University – as searching for an apprenticeship is often overlooked. There are some great resources out there to help you turn a hobby into some income, or even find a full-time job based around it, it’s just a case of using them.