I did a pure language degree with a year abroad, not something I wanted to do but the best of what was on offer. I didn’t enjoy it and when I left university, I was confused about what I wanted to do. With no career advice coming my way at university, and a degree that I didn’t want to use, I ended up feeling that I wasn’t qualified to do anything at all.
When I look back on my career, I am angry that the system allowed me to leave university with feelings of worthlessness and confusion. I was a 21 year old with no confidence, no aspirations and no dreams, weighed down by academic failure and a lack of self-belief. How was this allowed to happen? Are we still allowing young people to graduate from university with a feeling that they are worthless? I intend to make sure that this never happens on my watch.
Except the career advice I was given when I was 16, I never received any guidance or support in helping me work out what I wanted to do until I was 30 years old. I remember a meeting with a careers advisor at the university where I was doing a part-time MSc at the time. I was asked to bring a copy of my CV. Within 20 minutes that careers advisor had me believing that I could be whatever I wanted. I think back on that meeting with that lady frequently. She single-handedly turned my life around because she believed in me. She saw me. The real me. And she helped me understand what I had to offer. I have never looked back.
Fast-forward 25 years after originally graduating and I am now a Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at Sheffield University Management School and an ICF accredited coach. I have 17 years industry experience, 2 Masters Degrees and a PhD. I have recently been appointed academic lead for employability within the Management School. I had written myself off at 21 but feel I am living proof that no-one is beyond success. It is finding the path to success that is our individual struggle. I have now found mine, even though it has taken me a long time to find it.