Be Brave. Be Unconventional. Aisha's Story.
So, today's post is a little different. We've been chatting recently to a fab young woman called Aisha from Cardiff. We listened to her experiences and felt like they spoke as a voice for many young people - so, of course, she's featuring on the blog! Have a read of her account below - it's a brilliant, captivating read and perfectly captures the familiar experiences of much of the UK's youth.
That would be the word I would have used to describe my route to employment. GCSEs, A-levels, University, Employment. When you get taught that there is only a one-way system for careers, you would never think that any other option outside of the University hemisphere would be just as valid. Apprenticeships were foreign to me and I had only been introduced to them in my second year of A-levels.
A speaker had come in to talk about a sponsored degree apprenticeship. Suddenly, I had learnt that the route to employment was much more diverse. After that talk, I found myself questioning my UCAS application which I had already sent a couple months ago. Did I really want to take the traditional route? Was the student debt worth it? These were the questions I had found myself asking. And so, I did some more research about these apprenticeships and I realised that it was everything that I wanted from my degree and more!
No one is guaranteed a job regardless of degrees, so standing out to employers is a must. A sponsored degree apprenticeship was going to not only provide me with a degree to compete with other graduates, but also experience in the chosen industry I wanted to work in.
There was a surge of excitement as I realised that this was what I wanted to do. Although, what I hadn’t expected was to be met with resistance. Teachers were telling me that I was ‘wasting my academic talent’ and that really, I should be aiming for ‘top universities’. I didn’t understand - this apprenticeship was going to be even more challenging than a typical degree and was going to give me a better chance of getting employment.
People are afraid of things they don’t know. Apprenticeships are more known now than they were two years ago, but it is still a foreign path in comparison to University.
At first, I had been convinced by people around me that I was making the wrong choice, that I was taking the ‘easy way out’ of University. I delayed the decision by completing another two years of A-levels in the subject area that I wanted to take at degree level. This gave me a chance to really explore my options and make an informed decision that was right for me. My route through education became much more dynamic, as I pushed myself to pursue experiences that I initially would have been too afraid to embrace.
Fast forward to the present, and I am currently in the middle of an application for a degree apprenticeship and have just finished my A2 exams for my second set of A-levels (crazy, I know).
If there is one piece of advice I would give to anyone who is considering an apprenticeship, it would be to be brave and do what’s right for you. Everyone’s journey through education should be unique, with not one path being better than the other - just different! In my opinion, both paths should be seen in a light where they are considered as being equal.
Honestly, I didn’t have to go through another two years of A-levels. It’s only now with hindsight that I realised I was scared. Why? Because it takes being brave to go against the norm.
That would be the word I would use to describe my current route to employment. GCSEs, A-levels, degree apprenticeship, employment. When you get taught about other routes to employment, you learn that they are just as credible as a traditional degree and provide just as much opportunities for employment... if not more.
Aisha Saeed, 20-years-old. Cardiff.