Advice for students after receiving their GCSE results
Deciding what you want to do after your GCSE results can be a tough choice, and you might not even know what career path you want to head down just yet, so making decisions on A Levels and further education can be hugely overwhelming. The key is to keep your options open and throw yourself into everything; nothing needs to be set in stone just yet. Below is some advice to help you navigate your way through this tricky period from Sharon Walpole, Director at www.careermap.co.uk...
Gain some hands-on experience
As part of your school curriculum you’ll be given the opportunity to do work experience, which usually involves spending a week shadowing members of staff as they go about their jobs. This is a great chance for networking so put some effort into finding a worthwhile placement; think about what sort of work interests you and what kind of environment you might want to work in. Don’t panic if you have no idea what career path you want to take yet, this is the perfect time to try new things out, discover what you like and what’s not right for you.
It can sometimes be tricky to secure work experience so make sure you’re flexible and open to trying different things; your placement may not be your dream job but it can give you valuable experience or help you get your foot in the door. Make use of your school’s advice and careers services as well as your family, as they may be able to put you in touch with potential contacts. Remember, to secure the most lucrative opportunities, you must be proactive: make phone calls and email out your CV, for example, as the more positions you apply for the greater your chance of being successful.
Throw yourself into all things extra-curricular
A great way to develop essential skills for your CV (and personal statement if you end up going to university) is through extra-curricular activities. Whether it’s debating to enhance your communication, or sports to improve your team-working abilities, it all counts. Not only that, but this is also a great opportunity to meet new people, find out what you enjoy and work out where your strengths lie.
Take a step back
A Levels aren’t for everyone, so don’t feel pressured into staying in school if you already have a pretty good idea of what you want to do. Whilst aspiring doctors and vets will have to get the grades, there are plenty of apprenticeship schemes – from engineering to accounting – available that might be a better fit for you.
Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications such as BTECs and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) can be done alongside A Levels, or even instead of, and they focus on the practical side of the working world, meaning that you can put what you already know into action. Apprenticeships even give you the opportunity to be paid around £170 per week, meaning that you can start earning early on, and get a head start into the concept of ‘adult life’ from an early age.
Be sure to do your research into all the alternative options out there to find the best choice for you. If you change your mind about higher education later on, you can apply to university with your level 3 NVQ qualification or your BTEC results.
Think it through
If you’ve decided A Levels are the route you want to take, think about the relevance of your chosen subjects to your future. If you’re unsure what you want to do later on, keep your subjects varied, but if you know which area you want to go in to, then it’s important that you pick subjects relevant to the topic. Employers are crying out for those with more technical skills in maths and sciences as these jobs tend to not be too oversubscribed. Take this into account if you have a flair for these subjects, and perhaps consider a language if this is something you enjoy as it’ll make your CV stand out a little more.
More information on what to do following your GCSE results can be found in the Careermap Results Day Guide: careermap.co.uk