Students get a head start on planning for the future

MORE than 70 exhibitors from the world of work and education have given Ripon Grammar School students a taste of some of the wide range of opportunities available to them on leaving school.

Employers from a wide range of sectors, including engineering, healthcare, hospitality, biotechnology, law, the forces, dentistry, accountancy and veterinary surgery, showcased a variety of career paths – from apprenticeships to workplace-funded degrees.

Representatives from more than 20 top universities, including Cambridge, Durham and York, also talked to students about courses and student life post-A-levels.

Among the professionals taking part were round ten past pupils, including a medical doctor, a statistician, a laboratory analyst and a solicitor.

The event attracted more than 500 parents and students, who took the chance to get a head start on planning their futures.

The key message from employers was that they value good communicators. Many also advised students applying for places to do their research and demonstrate the skills and passion that help them stand out in a crowd.

All stressed the importance of being able to work well in a team and problem solve, among the huge range of ‘top tips’ on offer.

Matthew Day, regional director of DSSR consulting engineering, said his company valued enthusiasm and the ability to communicate clearly and simply: “We have to bring complex ideas to clients, so that is key.”

He added: “A welcoming and easy-going personality is also very important.”

His top tips for those applying for jobs included getting some work experience under your belt: “Work experience is invaluable. We have had lots of RGS students come to us and they have done really well.

“It’s also important to do your research on the company, to prove to the employer that you’re interested. Also, think about what you want to get out of a career with us. It’s not just a job, it’s more than that.

Jonny O’Donnell, senior hardware engineer with Chameleon Technology, advised students to be honest at interview: “There is no point in trying to pretend if you don’t have the necessary technical knowledge and skills because if you don’t know what you are talking about you will get caught out. And try to get appropriate work experience.”

His company wants employees who will put themselves forward for things and are good at problem solving.

His colleague, senior industrial designer Jack Lowe, added: “Communication skills is a big one, being able to explain and listen well. We need to be able to make sure everyone on a project is on the same page.”

Harrogate Trust community staff nurse Becky Hazel-Owran said those coming into nursing should be open, honest and passionate about helping people.

“Candidates will need good organisational skills and the ability to be flexible.”

Her top tips included getting work experience to understand more about the reality and responsibility of the job.

“There is a high drop-out rate at university because so many people don’t understand the reality.”

Jonny Parry, outreach ambassador for Newcastle University, said it was important for students to have a passion for the subject they are applying for.

“Newcastle is a research-focused university, so it’s important to show a willingness to explore and pursue your subject, and having the sort of independent approach that ignites further interest.

“It’s also important to be well-rounded. University is about so much more than academic studies, from volunteering to sports, it’s important you get the most out of the whole experience holistically.”

His top tips included: “See beyond A-levels and predicted grades and read around the subject you’re applying for, be informed about what you might be studying on the course and what you will gain from studying the subject further. This sort of research will come through in your personal statement.

“Your personal statement is your chance to show yourself off as an individual.”