You might not remember, or be old enough to remember, Baz Luhrmann's Everyone's Free (to Wear Sunscreen). But, I happened to hear it the other day mid-mad dash from North to South London in the back of cab. Suddenly, I was back in 1999, 13 and being completely inspired about the rest of my life. There were so many different prospects open to me and I could do, be, anything. That's a great feeling and momentarily I remembered what it felt like to be at school and have your whole life in front of you. It's fantastic but it's really daunting, too.
I couldn't wait to leave school. So I did it as soon as I possibly could at 16. I had no clue what I wanted to do next other than being at school wasn't it and that I was desperate to make my own way as soon as I could. What that meant in reality was, I did a whole heap of jobs before I found what I was passionate about. I mean loads. Everything from working in a shop to scouting models and what felt like everything in-between.
I don't think that there's anything wrong in that; trying things out is all part of growing up. But, sometimes having a bit of plan can be a good idea. As of September, you've being given an extra year to figure out what you want to do. A new law means that young people in England must now stay in some form of education or training until the end of the academic year when they turn 17. This will go up to 18 in 2014.
Had I been affected, I'd have probably been a bit disappointed about this shift in the rules. But, the world's changed a lot since I was at school. Nearly one million young people are unemployed in the UK. It's hard out there when you want to take your first step, so having some extra training before you do it is no bad thing.
I suffered a lot of setbacks when I started; I didn't have any work experience and no real confidence to go after the career that I knew in the back of my mind I really wanted. It affected my confidence as knock-back after knock-back left me feeling like I might never succeed. What I think this extra year will offer you, other than additional qualifications which never hurt anyone, is the chance to get to know your strengths, to explore your interests, and to work on building up the self-confidence you're going to need when you start looking for your first career break.
So, here are my suggestions on what to do with the next year. Take a step back and really think about what you want from the next 40 years of work. It's a long time to be doing anything, so don't rush it. Surround yourself with people and things that inspire you. Learn everything you can.
You don't need to do that at school. One of the brilliant things I realised after I'd left school is that there are so many ways you can learn. I do this best on the job. So you might want to check out your options for the year. There are other practical resources out there too. LifeSkills, for which I'm an Ambassador, is one of them. But, there are loads more.
Finding the career that suits you should be exciting and an experience that helps you grow. And, if all else fails, listen to Baz and remember that you have a lot of time and anything is possible.