As you move through secondry school, the choices surrounding your future can feel more and more overwhelming. Choosing the right career path, achieving the relevant qualifications and developing skills that can be added to your cv to make you stand out all become important factors.
Input from friends and family, although often well intended, can add to the confusion, so finding inpartial advice can help to give you a push in the right direction.
Many young people leave important decisions about their career path until the last minute (which is ok, you can still find guidance at this point) but planning early can give you the best opportunities and set you on your chosen path without delay.
Around the time you start to prepare for your GCSE’s, many schools provide access to careers advisors that can talk you through your options. If you have a special interest or talent, a career path may present itself and you can start to tailor your education and knowledge towards this profession. If you’re unsure what kind of career you’d like when you leave school, you can use your final years to explore different options. It may be that instead of looking at University courses to gain an advanced understanding of a curriculum based subject, you may prefer an apprenticeship to learn a specialist skill whilst earning. If you have a more niche skill, there are also colleges offering courses on subjects such as fashion, performing arts, design, beauty therapy, music and photography/videography.
With your basic GCSE grades, you have the foundation skills for most jobs. English, Maths and ICT skills are required in many careers, although if you don’t do so well, there are always other options available – it’s all about working with what you have or love!
What opportunities are available to young people to enchance their skills and made their CV really stand out?
Work experience placements
Work experience placements usually take place while you are a year 10 or 11 student. These placements are an opportunity to gain real life experience with a company, allowing you to decide whether this is a career path you’d like to persue. Work experience is also a great opportunity to learn new workbased skills that look great on your cv. While you’re there, you will also have the chance to speak with employees and find out about how their qualifications and experiences helped them to get into that career.
Whilst you’re on your work experience placement, you will be expected to assist with daily tasks and the day-to-day workings of the workplace you chose. These tasks and duties will vary depending on the type of work environment you are interested in. You may be given some junior level work to complete during the placement which will give you a chance to really shine! Don’t expect to be working on anything too advanced though as many workplaces may have legal or qualificational limitations on what they can get you to work on.
Your college will have certain work experience placements they can offer you. If you prefer to work in a different area, you can approach companies directly to ask about work experience opportunities, or contact an independant advice service such as LEBC who offer work experience including placements with Leicester hospitals.
If you perform well during your work experience placement, you could also ask for an open reference which looks great in your record of achievement folder.
Complete the National Citizen Service Program
This opportunity is open to school students that are 15 to 17 years of age. If you are in year 11, you can take part in the 4 week NCS program during the Summer-holidays; and in year 12 or 13, NCS takes place over 10 days during the October half-term and 4 weekends after.
The National Citizen Service Program is fun and engaging with lots of different challenges and activities to choose from. Taking part also helps you to gain skills that can make your CV stand out when applying for work. Some of the benefits of taking part are:
Employers recognise an NCS achievement; because it teaches the skills that are needed to survive in the world. It develops the key-skills employers value in their employees.
Teaches Confidence; after completing an NCS program, more than 70% of the NCS-graduates feel more confident in dealing with change, as well as getting a job after getting their qualifications or degree.
Getting a Certificate; signed and endorsed by the Prime Minister, is a nice way to receive recognition for work done, and experience gained.
NCS achievements look favourable on any type of application; whether it is for work, or on an application for studying a degree, the NCS certificate can help to make your application stand out.
You will learn new life skills; You will learn how to build relationships, how to budget, how to be more organised, how to get your ideas across, how to present yourself and how to work with others.
Volunteering teaches vital skills that young people are going to need, for instance, problem-solving, and teamwork. While learning these skills, young people make a difference in their communities and make a big contribution towards the economy in the form of voluntary work hours.
If you are interested in volunteering, there are companies such as Vinspired offering opportunities to young people between the ages of 14 – 25 years. There are a variety of different volunteering opportunities where young people can work in their communities, getting them involved with causes that can help solve problems.
Part time jobs such as delivering newspapers, babysitting, gardening and dog walking are a great way to demonstrate responsibility and reliability. Jobs in restaurants and shops are a great way to develop customer service skills as well as more specific work based skills, all of which will look great on your cv. Part-time jobs that fit around your studies can be in the evening, at weekends or during the school holidays. You can speak with local employers to find out whether they have any suitable vacancies.
The ultimate aim is to help you gain knowledge and skills that will prepare you for life after school, and life as a working adult. Most of the opportunities above give awards, recognition, or certificates that will go a long way in enhancing your CV when applying for work positions. Doing that little bit extra will REALLY make you stand out from the crowd.