How student Holly found the clues to a brighter future
When Holly thought about her future, she had no idea what she wanted to do. But thanks to an inspiring teacher and a Teach First work experience opportunity, the school pupil discovered her dream career.
An unclear path
I didn’t know what career I wanted when I was picking my GCSE subjects. I had no idea.
At my school, businesses didn’t come in and talk to us about the world of employment and what was expected of us. Most pupils picked subjects they enjoyed, but that doesn’t always work well when you are looking for a job. School offered apprenticeships, but I wasn’t sure if that was for me.
I added my predicted grades, personality type and learning approaches to a careers tool that my school provided. It was helpful because it made me think about working in the civil service. But it still felt like something was missing.
It told me what I could do, but not how to do it.
The education I didn’t know I needed
I picked GCSE History taught by the amazing Mr Nash. He’d talk about how history is relevant in job roles that exist today. He linked the subject with different career areas, such as the Cold War and security risks, politics and the current Ukraine war, America in the 1920s-70s and the overturn of Roe vs Wade, and medicine through time with links to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning about this history really opened my eyes.
I think that until a teacher links a subject to the real world, pupils can’t always see the benefit.
PHSE in Year 9 inspired me to think about my future. A series of ‘Great Lives’ lessons taught me about careers education, mortgages, and mental health. They were like unwritten rules you’d expect to hear from a parent.
In Year 10 I had just 30 minutes with a careers adviser and I know this is less than what pupils receive in other areas. As a member of Teach First’s Pupil Forum, I often share my thoughts on the education system and learn about pupil experience across the country.
I live in a small town near Manchester, and there are fewer careers education opportunities compared to London.
My school was in special measures and didn’t have links to companies, so couldn’t offer me work experience.
Then I saw a work experience opportunity through Teach First and decided to go for it. It was online which meant it was accessible for me.
My work experience for a week with GCHQ was brilliant. I learned about job roles in different sectors, such as defence, strategy and cyber control. I was always interested in security, but this experience cemented it as a career choice for me.
Prepared to succeed
Young people like me need guidance about life after school. From my experience, the earlier you can start thinking about it the better prepared you’ll feel.
I feel lucky that I had that week to explore my career options. Without Mr Nash and the work experience at GCHQ opening my eyes, I’d still be clueless about my future.
Finally, I know what I want to do and what I need to do now to get there.
When it comes to careers, too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the cards stacked against them. Find out how we’re campaigning to improve careers education so that every young person gets equal access to the opportunities they deserve through our Class to Career campaign.