Forging a Career Without University

I know this is a huge topic at the moment and your Facebook feeds are probably full of pleased parents and soon-to-be graduates boasting about their degrees and whilst I am incredibly proud of the people in my life who have achieved what they set out to do, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t everything.

When I was 17 I made the decision to leave formal education. Two weeks before I was due to sit three A-Levels, I realised that I did not have the support I needed within the academic year in order to pass my exams and get the grades I needed to get myself to university. I had no plan, no idea what I was doing and I was told by the staff at the sixth form college I attended that I would amount to nothing if I did not complete my exams and go to my chosen University (Staffordshire to do Journalism if anyone was wondering).

Once I signed the papers to leave, I was terrified.

Months passed and I still had no clue what I wanted to do; I was on the dole being told I needed to apply for anything and everything, and with no experience I wasn’t getting interviews for shop or bar work, so anything else was out of the question. This was, however, until I stumbled across a social media apprenticeship in my tiny hometown. Working on social media all day every day? It sounded like my idea of a decent career. Whilst I didn’t get that job, it planted a seed that wasn’t going anywhere.

After 3 recruitment days, I was hired at an SEO company. The job was menial and I was essentially a data hunter until my last month with the company when I was allowed to work on social media for some amazing clients, but this led to a plethora of opportunities and I have since worked with clients ranging from insurance and legal to travel and food. Working with some majorly established brands aged 20 was a shock to me, when just three years earlier I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, and I have had my fair share of bumps in the road, but when I set out to try every kind of job within the digital marketing sector, I knew it wasn’t all going to be for me. Trying to be an account manager lasted a month, and I hated the immense pressure that came with it, and whilst I thought I loved working in social media, I quickly realised that paid social was not for me.

I am now 22. I left college with a huge fall from grace 5 years ago, and I am now living my dream working in the music industry. I work on a small campaign team, working with some of the worlds’ most successful influencers as well as my peers in the community, and I am incredibly happy and humbled to have spent the last year totally besotted by what I am doing day to day.

Whatever you take away from this post, I want you to realise that university is not everything. They are phenomenal institutions for starting various careers, but in a lot of cases, you cannot teach passion or determination which are the two main factors in success.

And remember: if it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it.

Emily x

3 thoughts on “Forging a Career Without University

  1. I guess education is not for everyone and there are so many people out there like Richaed Branson and Bill Gates who never finished university and look at them. Good on you for doing what you want and not what was expected of you.


  2. This is such a great post!
    As a lady in my 30’s I can honestly say I wish I did an apprenticeship. Don’t get me wrong I loved my uni times and met some incredible friends, but the experience of working within the field amounts to much more than just studying!
    Well done!


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