For many of you finishing school and facing the prospect of what is next, university becomes a viable choice. However, there are a few things to consider before moving on to the next steps. Hopefully what follows will shine a light on some of the key things to do and how to plan and prepare for your academic adventures.
When you are facing the prospect of leaving school and thinking about what’s next, people tend to view the future from three perspectives.
1.You are absolutely certain what you want to do with your life and already know what field of study and what universities and colleges you plan on attending.
If you are one of these people then I salute you as you are probably few and far between. Not many people at the age of 15 -18 know what they want to do and of those that do, many will change as they carry on into further education.
2. The next category of people is those who have no idea what they want to do, other than they want to continue studying.
Many fall into this camp and it’s perfectly normal to have no clue what you want to do. In fact, the worst thing you can do is jump into a course or programme because your best friend is doing the same course or because your parents tell you, you’ll make lots of money doing that. The key thing to remember is to gain exposure through volunteering and work placements early on and get a feel for what motivates you. From the ages of 15 to 18, it’s really hard to know what you want to spend the rest of your life doing, so don’t rush it. Many do, only later to find out that they don’t like that field of study or discover a new field of study while they are studying what they thought they’d like. Take the time to zero in on what your key motivator is and what your talents are.
3. Finally, the third category, those who simply want to work and follow an apprenticeship.
Many simply want to jump straight into an apprenticeship and start earning. This can be a rewarding path to choose but be mindful of what you chose to pursue and think about how sustainable it is. Do you want to be doing it for the rest of your life? Can you do it for the rest of your life? You may find that for the first few years, things are going well, but things will change and you may want to move further up in this role and this is going to require a shift in what you do and perhaps further training e.g. a construction worker will not be able to sustain that course of work for their entire career and will most likely move into site management or even run their own construction crew. Change is inevitable, so think about what the job you are choosing will look like in 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years’ time.
This post focuses on further education, mainly categories 1 and 2. But it applies to all three categories and should help guide you in your vocation.
I want to go back to the differences between jobs, careers and vocations. I have actually spent time doing all three and I can tell you, hands down that the most rewarding is finding your vocation. Something I could not have done without a university education. It was not until about 10 years ago that I realized the value of a vocation. So, I want to talk a little about vocations. A vocation is as defined by Aristotle “where your talents meet the needs of the world”, so let’s start here. Vocation is what you should be aiming for, not a job, that’s short-term, not a career, that’ll burn you out. Find your vocation. The following posts in this series will help you discover your vocation: What are your talents?, and What are the big and most important needs of our world today?
These series of posts were written by Gary Etheridge Director of Design Strategy for Nestlé Purina North America who studied Furniture & Product Design at Nottingham Trent University.
Gary is an NTU Alumni Fellow. You can find out more about how to get involved with the Alumni Fellowship Programme here.