I didn’t really know what to do with my life when I was 17. I talked to my father, who said – time enough for that yet, get a degree first, and then think about it; you will have seen a bit more of the world. There were ‘men’s jobs’ and ‘women’s jobs’ and I didn’t know anything about either. (There was no internet, so apart from a few turgid books in the school library, there was nothing to look up.) If I had read Peter’s career path, (see below) I would have believed my father more readily.  These days, even a degree isn’t strictly necessary to do well – there are so many other pathways.  Here is a website tour which hopefully will clarify what questions to ask:

SACU  Main website : http://sacu-student.com/

This is a really unusual software company – with one person at least with a career which proves that degrees don’t have to tally with what you do next. (Read Peter’s career progression in their About us page. Clearly he could not have known he would end up owning a software company or two!!)

SACU is a careers website, which contains a visual online quiz to help you choose a higher education course and career.

It also creates your own personalised higher education cloud and career cloud.

But maybe this isn’t the right place to start.  I am sitting in Gloucestershire, and so is this company, that is why it is here at the top – I don’t know quite why, but it really cheered me up to know that it exists.

But let me start where everyone else starts – and why not – it is a good place.

The UK National Careers Service

The government site has a list of job profiles and a skills health check. You can contact the service to arrange a face to face careers appointment if you are 19 years and older.  There is a telephone advice service for anyone under 19.  It is useful to just look at their Facebook page first. Website signposting is right there on their page.


What do you get ? First of all, definitions of who does what – that is a great advantage.  When I was coming out of school, I didn’t know what people did with a degree in economics, I was thinking about, other than be an economist, although I could guess. 

Nobody listed out job titles and what they do – here is a page which I would have found really interesting, when I was 18 – what do different people do in the general area of business and finance?  Too simplistic? Well yes, you might say that, but even this is better than the ‘sorry, who did you say you were?’ that I found. Not that I didn’t ask.  I was offered many good secretarial options. Oh, I wanted to get a degree? Well, Graduate Girls (a secretarial agency for bright young personal assistants) was the new thing – I tried to look it up – it no longer exists, apparently.

Prospects – Main site: www.prospects.ac.uk

This site is designed as a service provider to universities and colleges – they buy into these services, for their students. It has, however, more helpful job role descriptions including salary, types of employers and UK opportunities.  As a student I would have tried doing the assessment ‘what job would suit me’. Interesting, and gives you options.

You are able to look under careers advice for degree subjects and what jobs they can progress to. Something might click with you, some insight that you would like to do this – or really this would never be your cup of tea.  Even that is good information.

Icould  – Main website – https://icould.com/

If you are short of inspiration you could go to a site called icould.  This includes 1000 films of personal career stories across all occupations.

I looked at something which is really a long way from my own abilities and interests, because I wanted to see for myself if the video would give me real information which was new to me.  So I looked at Optometry.  Yes, it was a real person who had started recently and yes, it was very informative.  Give it a try – look for what you think might interest you, and then, look at surrounding subjects as well.  You will come out the richer. 

If, like me, you wouldn’t know where to start, they have a short ‘Buzz Test’, which gets you thinking about your personality and how this may fit with different roles.

Career Pilot – Main site : http://www.careerpilot.org.uk

This is a regional service for the South West Region of the UK.  I am including this, because this is a glimpse into what options there are for each age group. 

Not everyone is academic in nature – they may have their own family or personal reasons for not studying, and starting to earn. So what is available, if you are looking into careers at different ages? This site gives you a set of choices, at 14, 16 and 18 years.

By the time you come out, you will most likely have a pathway in mind – you can see what options you have, and what time you will need for getting the qualifications you need to do the job well, and make good career progression.

Well worth a look.

Main site : https://successatschool.org/

Very good for exploring career paths/subjects, and how they link to different jobs, employer opportunities and general careers advice. They have 60-second interviews.  Look in their advice section.

I thought that this site just opens your horizons. There are 172 interviews to read – not videos, which I liked, actually, because there is no moving picture – you can just stop and think, halfway through reading it. And it is not too long.  This was the result of ‘60 seconds’ with the Imam of the Cambridge Mosque Trust.  So what did he study to get to be Senior Imam?

Find Your Why

Finally, here is an article I found, which puts all of this into context. The Japanese got to it first with Ikigai. This article talks about finding your ‘why’. (At 17 I was very much asking the question ‘Why do I have to grow up at all?’ – it is not a useful question, sadly.) The site, incidentally, is run by Steve Scott, someone I discovered very early in 2008 – if you do develop a morning routine like he says you should, then you will only benefit. I haven’t tried yet, but I mean to, because I need one, urgently.

Thankfully, there is nothing new under the sun, and finding your ‘Why’ was not an invention by Simon Sinek, and neither does he claim it is. Before someone says that Sinek’s site is inappropriate, then they are right – it is all about leadership issues. No, you are not a leader yet. But there is no harm in having a look at what leaders from all kinds of companies have been reading in their droves. If you are going somewhere then it never did any harm in knowing what the people at the top of that ladder are thinking, feeling and doing.

See what you think.

And if you want to see something more about how to prepare for being in the workplace you might like to visit this secret page on this site.

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