Whether it’s a frugal desire to avoid the financial strain inherent in student life, or simply that you feel university isn’t the best path for you as an individual, there are many different ways to get your foot on the first rung of the career ladder that are worth keeping in mind when looking towards the future.
An apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to be trained on-the-job, learning as you go under the guidance of experienced workers already well established in the business. In addition to gaining job-specific skills within the industry that interests you, time will generally be kept aside to allow for some study in the relevant field (typically one day a week), making it a comprehensive way to learn about the role. To qualify, you need to be at least 16 and not in full-time education, meaning it’s an ideal alternative to an academic path for many people.
An internship works in a similar way to an apprenticeship in some respects, in that it’s a position offered to prospective workers that allows them to gain first-hand experience in the workplace itself. It differs from the former however, in that it’s typically carried out over a shorter period of time (anywhere from a week to a year), meaning less time commitment if you don’t want to be tied down right away, but also in that they are generally offered with the intention of hiring any promising talent into a more permanent position.
What’s more, since an internship is classed as a work placement, you will usually be entitled to payment of at least the national minimum wage throughout the duration of your position.
Working your way up
In lots of industries, it’s possible to apply for an entry-level role that requires little to no specific experience or qualifications, and to simply learn about how the industry works from the inside as you gradually work your way up through the company. This route may take a little more time, but it can bring with it a lot of job satisfaction as you are promoted up the ranks, and would leave you with an intimate knowledge of all areas concerning the business.
Classes and courses
It’s always worth checking out what classes and courses are on offer at your local college or night school. You can find all kinds of training groups and short-term qualifications that can sometimes require as little as a couple of hours, one evening a week for a few weeks, at the end of which you have newfound skills and certificates to put on your CV.
It would be foolhardy to think that everyone could just go it alone in their career and make a success of it right away. That’s not to say that self-employment doesn’t work out for a lot of people, however, and it is indeed a perfectly valid option worth considering. It requires a lot of hard work and self-discipline, but if you’ve got the drive to make it happen, it can lead to many perks, such as complete control over your own working hours and holidays, the ability to set your own rate of pay, and creative freedom with regards to the work carried out and the very business itself.
This article was contributed by guest author Julie Cheung.