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In this article, I would like to give some career advice inspired directly from my own experience. This is the same advice I will give my kids when they grow up, as well as my relatives.
The choices you all make when aged 17 or 18, when choosing your A-levels and paths towards higher education, are some of the most important in your whole career. What I always found incredible, is how little information and advice is given at this crucial time in life.
I remember being a student back then. The choices I made were almost entirely based on the subject matters that I liked and was good at. I liked sciences and still do: Chemistry for all its magic, Physics because it explains how the world works, Biology because it relates directly to us, our body, the plants and the animals around us. Maths was also very important, being the foundation of every other science.
Now with hindsight, I think this was not a bad choice because it is so important to like what we do, simply to have that passion, that drive to keep us going and working hard. Motivation is such an important factor.
On the other hand, I think that I lacked information and guidance on specific career paths. An important factor that is often significantly overlooked is the financial remuneration of one career compared with another. When aged 17 or 18, it is hard to project yourself a further 20 years and understand the financial commitments of caring for others, such as a partner and children. It is also difficult to comprehend the balance between stable career and more risky, but rewarding options. So I believe it is just as important to study career paths and remuneration as well as maths, biology, chemistry and physics.
My advice to parents of A-level students is to expose them to a vast variety of career description. Ask your friends and family to talk to your child about their jobs: What they like about them, what are the drawbacks? Are these stable jobs? Are they well remunerated? Are they rewarding? Stressful and wearing? What would they have done differently given the choice? Would they have chosen a different job?
Such a wide panel of questions and interviewees will help your child project him/herself into the future and make the right decisions, choosing the right A-levels and university, ultimately leading to a successful career and life.