Seeing people on Twitter and Facebook recently discussing A Level results and University choices has made me reminisce about my own academic choices and the career path I’ve carved out for myself. I mentioned in a recent post that I just celebrated my 29th birthday and that next year will be the big 3-0. If you’d asked me when I was tentatively opening up that envelope with my A Level results tucked inside, what I’d be doing at 30, I think it would be a very different vision as to what I’m actually doing now. The same answer for when I strolled up to the board of results for my University degree. The truth is that it takes a while to figure out where your skills, talents, strengths and preferences lie, and if you don’t know at 17, or at 20, then that’s okay. There’s a whole lot of time for figuring it out!
As a child I knew that I loved reading and writing. I devoured every book I could get my hands on, my library card was a treasured possession and I was forever scribbling notes in my notebook – short stories or Harriet The Spy-esque observations about my friends, classmates and neigbours. My Gran would joke about me becoming a newsreader and inheriting Kate Adie’s ‘pearl earrings’. My GCSE results were fine and I went on to college to do Media Studies, English Lit/Lang and Sociology. A bit of a wild card presented itself in my second year when I had the opportunity to do AS Level photography. I hadn’t done a great deal of photography before but it was something that really interested me, and lo’ and behold I fell head over heels for it – enchanted by a world of darkrooms, pinhole cameras, mixing chemicals and carrying my Pentax film camera around with me everywhere. I loved taking it to gigs and rushing into college to develop my films the next day. Here is an early one of a band called Douglas, I don’t think they’re around anymore. I love all the scratches and grain, you just can’t replicate all of those beautiful imperfections you get in film photography via digital photography.
I pinched one of my Mum’s film cameras and used to take that on beach walks and other adventures. I can’t imagine how many times I got the bus into town to hotfoot it to the Boots photo lab to get colour films processed.
When it came to choosing university courses my Photography tutor threw a bit of a curveball by suggesting I consider doing a Photography degree. Up until then I’d only been focussed on Media Studies or something to do with writing (I’d considered that a job in Publishing might also be cool). But I loved photography and it had become a real passion of mine. In the end, after a lot of deliberation I went with my original plan and opted to study Media Writing at Southampton Solent. It was a tough call (especially as I got better grades for Photography than I did for Media Studies) but I didn’t feel confident enough in changing the track I’d been on for all my life, and the expectations that everyone had of me.
I enjoyed my Media degree and photography still remains one of my dearest hobbies. I never go anywhere without my camera (these days mostly I have my SLR, a film camera – usually my LC-A – and now my handheld video camera too). After University I found it difficult to get a job in journalism or publishing and even dabbled in retail management, eventually becoming Acting Manager for one of the Jessops photography stores – I cherish the opportunities I had to work in the Photo Lab and learn how it works outside of the darkroom. I found a way in to a writing based job eventually and got a job in the Press Office for the same organisation I still work for, initially as a Press Officer but since then also working in PR, Internal Communications and writing for our website. Since then, well, I did find the confidence to ‘change track’. I realised last year that I love being in a learning environment and working on projects relating to ‘people’ and nowadays I work at our Training Centre, working on projects to do with leadership and delivering leadership training. It’s been a funny old route to get here and I sometimes have those Sliding Doors moments where I wonder what would have happened if I’d done things differently. For now though, I love my job, and I’ve made writing and photography a major part of my life through my hobbies, and mainly, through my blog. There are always opportunities to make the things you love happen if you care about them enough! Massive good wishes to anyone starting a new chapter in their academic, or work life this year – jump in with both feet and enjoy it!
| post in collaboration with brand |