University isn’t the only option open to you after you leave school; here are some of the options!
WORDS: ROSALIND TULLOCH
Now is probably the best time to get out of the country and gain some ‘life experience’ by trekking around the world! With unemployment on the up, particularly in Scotland, who could blame you for wanting to see what other countries have to offer? And who knows, you may end up finding the job of a lifetime!
A gap year may conjure up the idea of living out of a backpack, hopping from hostel to hostel and counting your pennies to make sure you have enough to spend on booze each night, but there are other ways that you can benefit from a gap year.
Working abroad is the ideal way to fund your gap year and give you some work experience to add to your CV. There are many companies who organise working gap years who will organise you a job for when you arrive and who will help you find suitable and affordable accommodation.
Volunteering is a great way to get involved in a worthwhile project while on your travels. Not only will you be making a difference to the world but it is a great talking point for interviews and shows an admirable quality trait.
Many employers look kindly on gap years because:
- Gap years can increase confidence, through meeting new people and taking on different challenges;
- They can teach you useful life skills like managing your money and time;
- They can increase your independence.
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Climb the Company Ladder
If you know what career path you want to take, the best thing to do is to try to secure a job – no matter how menial it may seem – in a relevant company. Even if you begin by getting people coffee and opening the mail, you never know what it may lead to. Ensure you are a reliable employee and make sure your employer knows your aspirations for working your way up in the company. By taking the time to learn as much as you can about the company and understanding the role you want to do can stand you in good stead for when a position you want arises.
Many companies recruit internally for positions so, if you have proven yourself as a valuable asset to the company in your initial role, this will put you in a very strong position for a getting the job you really want.
Many companies also support their staff with management and training programs that can develop your skills, gain you extra qualifications and even put you on a fast track to management. So, it really is just a matter of getting your foot in the door!
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Apprenticeships are a great way of earning while you learn. They give you practical on the job experience as well as working towards a qualification and being paid for it.
Employers recognise the benefits of candidates who have taken apprenticeships as they know they will not only have the theory of the role but they will also have relevant hands on experience that is invaluable to an employer these days.
Apprenticeships are available in many different job sectors: from administration and business to food and retail, from construction and engineering to tourism.
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The Open University
If you are keen to get a degree-level qualification but don’t want to sample the Uni life of living in halls and attending lectures and classes, then why not consider studying with The Open University? You can learn at your own pace and benefit from their excellent resource materials, ensuring you get the most out of your course.
With a wide and varied range of courses available, the Open University provides a flexible learning option. If you want to work while studying, you’re not limited by University timetables, as you’re in charge of when and where you study! There is also an excellent support system in place; each student is allocated an individual tutor to guide, advise and offer comprehensive feedback on coursework and they can be contacted by phone or by email. Online forums also offer a great way to communicate with fellow students studying the same course, while there’s the option of attending tutorials in your area.
More: A full list of courses and information on funding can be found at www.open.ac.uk
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Always a valuable addition to your CV, work experience can provide you with a better understanding of your chosen career; although you are not getting paid for the work you do, it can provide you with good contacts for the future and, at the very least, you’ll likely get a good reference!
The best way to approach this is to contact companies directly and ensure you get the name of the person who would deal with prospective work experience candidates. Send them your CV and ensure you have a good covering letter explaining why you want to do work experience at their company. If you have not heard back from them in a couple of days, drop them a courtesy call to check that they have received your email, this shows your interest in the position and hopefully keeps your name at the forefront of their mind.
More: Fancy a career in magazine publishing – in journalism, photography, marketing, design or even advertising sales? There are regular work experience opportunities at Craven Publishing, the company behind this very magazine! For more information, call Rosalind Tulloch on 0141 419 0044 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.