THE BLOG

Exam Season: Bad News Can Be a Blessing in Disguise

13/08/2015 12:44 BST | Updated 13/08/2016 10:59 BST

We all know what happens in August - it's results month and after the drama that faced me during my A-level year, it's a month I will not forget in a while. I was the unlucky person that stupidly (and accidentally) brought a mobile phone into my last ever A Level exam and it started ringing! To prove I really had no idea the phone was in my pocket, the ringtone was on loud and when the examiner came to check the phone, they didn't find a trace of cheating. I honestly was 'that person' who forgot to check her pockets on walking into the exam hall... After the phone rang, I finished the exam blissfully unaware of my future fate. I wasn't exactly troublesome at school so I assumed I would receive a bit of a telling off and then I would have walked away and celebrated the end of my school days. Unfortunately this was optimistic - I walked outside the dusty hall to be met by the deputy headmaster who told me I would probably be disqualified from this exam. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!??!!??

The school felt they HAD to report the phone incident (even though, as already mentioned, they had checked the phone to find no cheating evidence). A few weeks passed and while all my friends were celebrating the end of school and excitedly discussing the next stage of their life, I depressingly had no sense of future because I was currently leaving school with only two A Levels. I was in limbo as I waited for the final verdict on whether I was going to be disqualified. The situation resulted in the worst case scenario; I was indeed disqualified from my English synoptic paper due to a stupid disorganised mistake, and left school without a university to attend or any job prospects.

However, what seemed like the most terrible scenario in the world ended up being the biggest godsend as I was forced to look at alternative options. Within a month I'd had a lucky meeting with someone and managed to secure some work experience. It was this year after school when I realised how IMPORTANT work experience was. Work is NOTHING like they teach you in school or at university, its hands on, it involves totally different skills to what a teacher can teach you and it opens up your eyes to the rest of the world.

I started working for a boutique marketing company with two women who had set the company up from their basement. I learnt more in these few months working for them than I had done in the past six years of education. My point being, if your exam results are not as you desire and you don't think university is for you, then I URGE you and plead that you look at alternatives, especially alternatives that combine training and actual real hands on work experience. According to recent research, nine out of ten employers now look at skill set instead of grades and only 22% of employers think qualifications are an important factor when considering hiring.

I've recently started working with AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) for the reasons I have outlined above. AAT offer accounting and finance qualifications open to people of all ages and allow you to receive an internationally recognised qualification. For school leavers, there are apprenticeships available which mean you gain an AAT accountancy qualification whilst working in a paid job. Though, it's worth pointing out that you can do vocational qualifications in many different industries including apprenticeships or general learning whilst you're employed, all giving you a much more rounded skillset making you ready for work. The thought of student debt and NO JOB prospects after university makes me sick to my stomach so when I heard about AAT I really wanted to help spread the word; a word I wish I had known about when I was in my predicament.

Vocational qualifications offer a way to kick-start a career by ensuring you gain much needed skills alongside qualifications. Having a degree is no longer a required route into a profession such as accountancy. In fact the latest UK Graduate Employment Survey found that 60% of graduates are either in jobs that do not require a degree or are underemployed.

Did you know that three quarters (74%) of vocational students (those who earn while they learn) say they are very or quite satisfied in their job and eight out of ten (82%) are very or quite secure in their job? Sounds pretty good doesn't it? To find out more about AAT visit aat.org.uk or check out facebook.com/youraat

I hope this blog post helps anyone who may be looking for alternative options this month. I wish you all the best! Do tweet or snapchat me if you have any questions

Twitter: poppyjamie

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