A network for women by women



You don’t have to go to uni to be successful

It’s August. That means those of you in school have just received your GCSE and A Level results. For some people, a huge congratulations is in order. They’ve received the results they want and need, and will now be in the process of getting everything ready to go to their first choice university.

But what about those who didn’t do as well, even though they tried their hardest? Let’s face it, exams aren’t for everyone. My personal feelings on most exams are that they don’t test intelligence, they test your memory. And I have a brain like a sieve, apart from when it comes to things like that fact polar bears have clear fur, not white, and that cats can’t taste sweet things. But I digress. We’ve all heard about those billionaire entrepreneurs who made it without a degree. Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Coco Chanel, to name a few. But what about those of us who became successful in a different way?

I left school at 18, with ok A Level results. Nothing to write home about. Nothing to suggest I’m the incredibly intelligent and thoughtful women I’d like to think I am. They were just ok. I never bothered applying for uni, and that left me in a position of not really receiving much help with regards to what I wanted to do once school was over. Now, I can’t speak for all schools, but the focus my school had was that if you didn’t go to university, well what are you going to do? I left with no clear career advice, no idea how to properly write a CV and the most important thing: no work experience. I began my first job aged 18 after spending the summer after sixth form being disappointed with my results, disappointed in all the rejections I’d received from job applications and feeling generally depressed with how my life was panning out. After nearly 6 months of having to claim JobSeekers allowance, I finally received a break from a company willing to give me a chance to actually show that I could work. I worked a two week free trial for them, proved I was a good worker, and remained in that role for just shy of 2 years until the company went bust.

What happened next I originally put down to luck, but looking back at the experience I realise was more to do with my strong work ethic and willingness to succeed. After losing my first job, it took me a week and a half to start my next one. I remained there for over a year until I made the decision to leave and further progress my career. I’m now earning a wage I want to earn, after spending most of my career taking home peanuts (true story: I’m 22 years old and have only just managed to afford my first contract phone. Hi iPhone 5s!).
And what about those women who, like my mother, made the decision to forgo a career to raise a family instead? She had my sister at 19 years old, my brother at 21 and me at 30. So far, she has successfully raised 3 children, my sister who has just got married and is in a good career, my brother who is insightful and interesting to speak to, and myself, obviously the best of the bunch!

Success is what you make of it. If your dream of success means studying your bum off and getting yourself a degree, then by all means you should go and do that! But success means different things to different people. And people shouldn’t judge another’s position until they know what they’ve had to go through to get there. Work hard and be a good person. Success will come, I promise.


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