A big thank you to all those who supported our first Next Steps Careers Fair last week. It was great to see so many pupils discussing their futures with visitors and their peers and there can be no doubt as to the value of planning.

There are so many wise old sayings which underline the importance of planning in securing a successful outcome and every one of them is true. So, the more that pupils can think about the future and then plan for it, the better. Thank you everyone for all your help.

But what about those who simply, “Don’t know what they want to do.” I well remember the pressure mounting, yet despite all the efforts of my teachers and family, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I entered the Upper Sixth.

Part of the paralysis was a sense that the decision was overwhelming in its importance and irreversible. Another part was simple ignorance of what was possible. But I suspect the real problem was that my own limited experience of life meant that I had no real idea of what I might enjoy in the future.

In the end, I chose to study Geology on someone else’s recommendation rather than any particular personal interest.

And what happened? To my surprise I found I quite liked Geology even if I didn’t want to make a career of it. I met interesting people who remain amongst my closest friends and then I discovered what I wanted to do after university.

So, to all the pupils and parents who only see a yawning black chasm of nothingness after School – STOP WORRYING. It is better to struggle to a decision after a few false starts than to set off down a narrow vocational route decided upon at the age of seven, only to decide years later that it was all a big mistake.

The decision about what to study at University is a bit like choosing A levels and GCSEs, and that doesn’t look so hard now, does it? Use the same logic. “What is interesting?”, “What am I good at?”, “Where might it lead me?”

Don’t worry if you aren’t terribly certain – go and make the most of it. Above all, stop trying to answer the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” It strikes me that the reason adults ask it so often is they may still be seeking the answer.

Last piece of advice? Don’t ask people what they think you should do. Ask them what they enjoy doing and why. You may well find some common ground and a direction for the future. Even if you don’t, the conversation will be more interesting for everyone.

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