18 November 2019

Students have been receiving careers advice from 11 employers and business professionals - including two former students who are now successfully running their own firms.

During the two-hour event, Year 11 students got the chance to hear from four of the professionals and put questions to them.

For former 6th Form students Caley Mead and Martin Caruana, speaking to the students brought back memories of when they, too, were considering their futures while at the College.

Caley now runs her recruitment firm, Ocean Recruitment Solutions, with her husband Curtis. The couple launched the Drake Circus business this summer - before that, Caley worked in the banking sector.

During her talk, Caley told students about the challenges she overcame on the road to her successful career: “One of my messages is that things can go wrong at some points, but by working hard and being resilient, you get through those times,” she said.

“And that’s fine, you’re allowed to have down times - it’s all part of the learning curve. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t been through those earlier challenges. Now, I’m employing other people and we’re busy all the time.”

Martin set up his accountancy firm, Beverston Accountants, in 2017. He said: “My key messages are that background doesn’t necessarily matter - it didn’t for me, I went to Art College before I went into accountancy! And secondly, take all the careers guidance you can get. Ask questions, keep an open mind and keep on trying things until you find what you want to do.”

That advice was repeated by another inspiring speaker, the Managing Director at China Fleet Country Club, Dean Bennett: “You are never too late to decide on your career, so if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to do, that’s okay. I decided my career path very late. The important thing is to keep on challenging yourself - and to enjoy what you do.”

The event was organised by the College’s Careers and Employability Manager, Miss Trezona. She said: “The aim is to raise aspirations. There are fantastic opportunities in different industries. For example, one or our employer representatives is an engineer working in the NHS. But for students to consider these types of opportunities, they must know about them.”

There were representatives from major employers such as the NHS and Babcock, as well as business owners and young adults embarking on rewarding careers in the city - among them, 20-year-old Ben Write, a paralegal apprentice with law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson: “There is definitely a route into a legal career without having to go to university, it’s just making students aware of these openings.”

And Vicki Horan, a practitioner with Theatre Royal Plymouth’s resident theatre company, Beyond Face, also had an inspiring story to tell.  Vicki left Plymouth for London before returning to the city to further her career: “Hopefully, I’ve encouraged students who are creative that there are career pathways into the creative industries and that there are opportunities right here in Plymouth.

“From my own experience, an important piece of advice is to make connections and nurture connections. And keep persevering.”

Year 11 Head, Mr Gill, said: “It’s been a very successful event. We want our students to consider their careers in both the short term and long term. And we want to open their eyes to the opportunities that there are.”

At the same time, all Year 9 students took part in an Online Interactive Workshop led by University of Plymouth Student Ambassadors, exploring job sectors and key employability skills. This event was organised by Mrs Gannon through Next Steps South West.