I’m Megan and I work for Skills Development Scotland as a Trainee Careers Adviser based in the Elgin Careers Centre.
If you had told me when I was in high school, I would be training to be a Careers Adviser I would never have believed it. In fact, my colleagues say they have never met anyone who decides to be a Careers Adviser, but it’s something that you sort of fall into – and to be honest that is exactly what happened to me too. When I left Lossiemouth High School at the age of 17, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do – so it’s quite ironic that I’m now the one helping others…
It’s easy to forget how much pressure there is when you are leaving school, I used to dread when people would ask me “what re you going to do once you leave?” or “What’s your plans after school?” because I honestly didn’t know and half the time I would make just it up! A lot of my school friends at the time were deciding to go to University, and I was really encouraged to follow the same path, however I knew that University wasn’t for me. I wanted to be close to home – my Mum and Dad always say it’s because they were too good to me! But all jokes aside, I knew that the style of learning at Uni just wasn’t going to be right for me.
I knew what I was good at, I knew I had good people skills and I knew that I wanted to help people but there wasn’t a job/course title that I wanted to “be” and I think that is what a lot of young people struggle with when answering this question.
So, I left school, and after speaking to my own Careers Adviser I was helped to review some of my decision-making processes and my skills and strengths. Following this conversation, I decided to go to college. I had a place to do Social Sciences HNC at Moray College. Again, I thought this course would be general enough and would allow me to study some of the subjects which I enjoyed. I also thought I would keep on my part-time job as a waitress whilst I studied.
However, in the middle of the summer holidays my Mum came across a vacancy on Facebook for a Modern Apprenticeship in Career Development. I didn’t know very much about Modern Apprenticeships or what they involved at the time, but I had a look, done some research and decided that I would put in an application. I then jetted off to Magaluf for a week with my friends and almost forgot about it! When I came home, much to my surprise I had been offered an interview – and then the panic set in – I’d never been for an interview before!
I frantically looked online for interview skills and tips and hunted down my careers adviser to get some support. When the interview came around, I survived it and had to wait for the result - obviously hoping for the best. Much to my surprise again, I was offered the job shortly afterwards and my careers adviser – Gillian who had helped me at school was now going to be one of my new colleagues – she is also now my mentor! (can’t get rid of me). Thinking back now, that all feels so long ago.
I have just recently completed my Modern Apprenticeship and I am about to go onto further training with the company. Now that I have done an Apprenticeship it is an opportunity that I would (and can) now encourage all young people to look further into. By doing an apprenticeship, it has allowed me to continue learning and gaining qualifications. I have also been able to work in a real environment with real responsibilities whilst earning money at the same time. Not only that, but I am able to help and support others which was always something really important to me when deciding what I wanted to do.
I have learned a lot of new skills and further developed the ones that I had already. I have been able to use the knowledge of other professionals in the industry and this has been invaluable towards my learning. My apprenticeship could have been in social work or learning and development or HR and still matched what I was looking for. However, I think it is important to remember that the skills I have gained are not exclusive and only valuable in one job, but valuable life skills which I can take with me to whatever I do in the future.
The work has challenged me, encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and helped to build my confidence.
Over the next few years of my training to become a qualified careers adviser I will do two more years of Work Based Learning and then undertake a postgraduate qualification through distance learning from Edinburgh Napier University. I will graduate a year later than if I had gone to University but will have gained invaluable workplace experience.
To sum up, at my work we aim to help people to think about and to develop their Career Management Skills i.e. self awareness, strength awareness and an awareness of what’s out there plus an awareness of who can help you get to where you want to be, and my own journey actually brings that to life. I knew what was important to me, I knew what I was good at (as much as any school leaver does!) and I used the practical support that’s available to help with the decision.
This opportunity for me could not have come at a better time and I am very grateful for it. I feel very lucky to be here today and share my experience and hopefully encourage others that there is not just one path to getting where you want to be.