So what do you want to do with your life?

 

It’s a question 16-year-olds must face but most are simply overwhelmed by it.

Amy Patterson is our resident careers and employability expert - she knows her onions! Read her advice below.

"I often sit in my drop-in sessions confronted by such year 11s facing real decisions about their life after years of education. They’ve been told about all the options, including A Levels, Btecs, OCR national diplomas, NVQs, traineeships and apprenticeships. They’ve been told they HAVE to stay in education or training, by law, until they are 18.

"They’ve often been sent to me by a teacher, or a parent.  And so they sit in front of me waiting to be told what to do next. And I can’t do that. Instead I ask, what do you want to do? For anyone at any age to answer the question what do they want to do for the rest of their life is hard. But at 16, it’s almost impossible.

 
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"...do not rely just on the hours you spend in the classroom to guarantee your future."

Amy Patterson

 

"So then I ask some different questions because the key to being happy in your future is self -awareness. If you are a naturally introverted person whose job requires you to be an extrovert, you will never be truly happy in your job, because it goes against your personality. Change your career to fit your personality, not your personality to fit your job. Unfortunately, self- awareness often comes with age, experience, and hindsight – difficult for a 16-year-old.

" I tell them three things. Firstly, don’t do nothing. Volunteer, help out at your kid sister’s football team, give out water bottles at a half marathon, help a friend build a website. The more you do the more you learn what you like and what you don’t like.

 
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"Firstly, don’t do nothing. Volunteer..."

 

"Secondly It *might* be a sensible choice to learn a trade, but if it’s something you don’t care about or aren’t strong at you might find yourself in the same position in a couple of years, looking for another course.

"The trick is to choose your qualification based on something you love. 

"Finally do not rely just on the hours you spend in the classroom to guarantee your future.  Every college and sixth form knows the importance of employability and transferable skills and will give you so much opportunity to do work experience, enterprise and development. Take every one!

"The jobs market is such you cannot guarantee a job for life any more. But those skills you learn as a by-product of your qualification – presentation, communication, teamwork and enterprise will sell you to a future employer. 

 
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"...presentation, communication, teamwork and enterprise will sell you to a future employer. "

 

"So use social media and technology and maybe write a blog, review music, films, games, sportswear,  tell jokes on twitter, start a small business, invent something ridiculous …

"The beauty of having no clue what you want to do is you’re at the beginning of a journey. You have a chance to really embrace whatever makes you happy, special and unique - and make it your specialism.

"But until you find out what that is, engage, enterprise, innovate. If nothing else, it will be fun."