Meet Jasmine, U-Explore Apprentice
When I was coming to the end of secondary school, I was stuck in limbo as to what I wanted to do. Careers advice was in short supply, just the occasional speech in assemblies. So choosing what I wanted to do next was tough. A lot of my friends went on to college to do A-Levels and I finally decided to go to a different college and do a two-year B-Tech level 3 diploma in Creative Media, where I felt I learnt skills to help with not only jobs in the media sector but life in general.
However, towards the end of college I felt I was in the same predicament. We discussed the next steps but I felt that university was the clear course I was expected to take. It seemed like the only choices presented to me were university or get a job. I had never been interested in going to university, so I got a job in a bar. After four months there, I felt the skills I had learnt on my vocational course had been put to waste.
I needed a change, so I moved to Leeds and decided to try for an apprenticeship. They had been briefly spoken about but had never seemed like an option. I’m so glad I did. I accepted an apprenticeship position at U-Explore, a company that offers independent careers advice solutions to schools across the UK.
The position at U-Explore fits my long-term career goals perfectly; it gives me the opportunity to learn and develop skills that will help me not only in this career but in other aspects of life.
The company is innovative and has a desire to help young people to improve their lives at the core of its business model. The idea that a company wanted to help students make better choices to ultimately ensure a happy and successful career as a long term goal was inspiring, and based on my personal experience of a lacking career advice history, it made me compelled to be part of it.
Even though I dug around online to find out about apprenticeships and where to apply, I think awareness weeks like National Careers Week are important not only for young people but for teachers and other officials. There are so many great opportunities and options available to young people, giving them a chance to explore routes which might not have been much talked about.
Within just a few weeks of my apprenticeship, I’ve been tasked with a vast array of jobs which I’ve been able to complete based on the practical experience I gained from doing the vocational course. If I’d opted for the A-level route, I’m not sure I would have been able to do what I am doing now to the same standard.
I’ve also been part of the launch of a new product called Start, a free online careers guidance tool. Start is an amazing product and a real joy for me to be working on. Although U-Explore does amazing work in the schools they support, it’s hard to reach everyone but with this new online service, all young people can gain access to its wealth of knowledge. It’s basically a one-stop-shop for career information, allowing you to personalise it with your current choices, preferred sectors and general interests, which then gives you suggested career paths and also invaluable advice on how to achieve specific careers.
We’re committed to making Start the best product available so that schools, colleges and students get the careers information and guidance they need. As part of this, one of the initiatives I’m involved in is a user engagement competition to get feedback on Start in return for some incredible prizes including an amazing suite of 25 iPad Air tablets for the most active school or college. You can find out more here.
As a teenager, it’s really hard to see so far in the future, especially with the pressures of school such as exams and coursework, so having a chance to explore all the options, prioritising what’s best suited to you and being able to take a long-term outlook to what you’re doing is really motivating and can help you focus on succeeding in everything you do.