How relevant is what you do at school, to what you do in the future?

The future can feel like a distant idea, or perhaps it’s something that is stressing you out right now. It’s hard to decide what you want to do, and even harder to know what to do to have that future. Join us as we talk to JJ about her career journey so far.

What did you study at school and university that lead to your career?

If you’ve read My HE Journey you will know that I did some strange things in my education journey. I studied Latin at GCSE and A Level, I studied Egyptology at university. Now tell me, who would ever need to be able to read two dead languages for their day job? I’m often asked what I can do with my degree in my future career, especially if I’m not going into academia.

It does seem pointless. And yet, Latin improved my English vocabulary and understanding, because so many words come from Latin. My degree taught me to commit to something for three years, to meet tight deadlines, to research and to produce at a high level. These skills are very transferrable to my current job and future career. I am involved in reading interventions where I help students with strategies to improve their reading – I rarely need a dictionary to know what a word is, and I can usually explain how to break a word down as well. I am also required to create resources, such as work booklets where I must research our partners and the content to produce high quality material. The practice has paid off.

What extracurriculars have you done that helped you with your career?

When I was at university, I joined a company called Debate Mate. Debate Mate teaches debate techniques to students in disadvantaged schools. I joined originally because I knew I would be good at it, I thought it was a good cause, and it gave me a little extra money for a small amount of work. I didn’t think it would be of use my future career because I knew I did not want to become a teacher.

Despite my intentions not to teach, both jobs I have had since university have had an educational aspect. For my first job, it was my Debate Mate experience that contributed to them offering me the position. No experience is ever wasted, even if it tells you that you never want to do it again.  

What jobs have you had since university and what is your aim in your career?

After university, I started as a Visitor Experience and Education Trainee at the Wordsworth Grasmere museum. In that role, I learned a lot about museums, guiding people, and learning engagement and outreach. After I finished there, I joined the team at Hello Future as an Outreach Assistant. My aim was to expand my administrative skills whilst also continuing with outreach work in Cumbria. I am passionate about providing more opportunities in Cumbria, and it is my goal in my future career to focus the arts and culture sector in Cumbria on learning and engagement.

What is your advice to people thinking about what to do in the future?

Follow what you are good at and enjoy. You don’t have to have a firm plan of what you want to do, a general purpose is enough. A lot of experience and knowledge is cross applicable, especially in humanities, so you aren’t limited to one pathway. Know your options though because sectors like STEM are more focused on specific qualifications. Make sure you do your research about the area you want to go into in your future career.

Are there any Hello Future tools that you think would be useful?

Definitely! We have a course called Your Future Career that is exactly for this – it will demonstrate the array of choices available to you. Our Progression Routes and Subject Specific Progression Routes courses are also good, especially for mapping out your potential pathways.