One of the perks of growing up, but also one of the biggest challenges, is making decisions about the future. Deciding what kind of job you want, whether you want to finish school or whether you want to go to university are huge choices to make. Sometimes life limits your choices - rising tuition costs may put university out of reach, or like me, personal circumstances might simply make it difficult to complete your education.
For me, growing up felt like a roller coaster ride at times, but looking back I don't think that it was such a bad thing. It was all part of the excitement of being young. Every twist and turn in life is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself, your interests, your talents, and how to set and then achieve goals.
As a typical teenager, I didn't have a really clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had to try loads of different jobs before I found the thing I felt I was really good at. I found out along the way that no matter what your qualifications (or lack thereof), some of the most valuable skills you need to get ahead are not the exclusive domain of school or even university classrooms. You can learn them by doing jobs like being a mystery shopper, freelance photographer, skin product tester - just some of the jobs I tried!
When I taught English as a foreign language I had to stand up and present in front of a whole classroom full of people. I was absolutely terrified at first, but I decided to treat the challenge as an opportunity, and every day it got easier. Now I know that almost everyone has a fear of speaking in public, and you only overcome it through practice. The other thing I learned is that confidence and enthusiasm are two sides of the same coin. If you talk enthusiastically about something, you can't help but come across as confident.
I interview people almost every day, and it is absolutely true that first impressions really do count. It takes just seconds for people to form their initial opinion of you, so from your CV to how you present yourself at an interview, it's really important to make a good first impression. And whether the interview is on the radio or for a new job, research and preparation is the key to success. Although you may not always know exactly what the questions will be you can prepare what you want to get across, plan potential answers and practice with a friend. Back to the point about enthusiasm, just staying upbeat and positive throughout an interview shows you are engaged and keen.
Confidence, thinking on your feet, being prepared and making an impact are all essential skills. That is one of the reasons why I've signed up to be an Ambassador for LifeSkills, which is all about learning the skills you won't get in the classroom but which you'll need to get started in the world of work. Their website is packed with guides on everything you need to know, like how to write a covering letter, understanding job advert jargon and what bosses are really looking for on a CV. You can even practice at a mock interview. I've learnt a few tips myself! You can't predict how your future will play out, but you can get yourself ready to grasp every opportunity with these valuable skills.