The Three Amigos – Journey to the Best

So, what the hell do I want to do with my life?
I’m Jade and this is my story so far…

Having spent four years at university studying Music Performance, I thought it was a complete waste of time and money. I love music and believed that university was the only way to get into that industry. But when I wrote my dissertation I thought “hang on, I just proved to myself that I could get into the industry without doing a degree”. I spoke to lots of people in the industry, the majority of whom got to where they want to be without getting a degree first. I had to go through my degree to realise that this wasn’t the only way to get to where I want to be. I’ve spoken to loads of people who have been trying to get into the industry, they asked me how I got the job at the Think Big Hub and I really wanted to tell them that degrees aren’t the only way to get into the creative industries. It really gets me aggy thinking about it!

As long as you’re passionate, are willing to volunteer and  get the unpaid experience, it gets you so much further than if you just have a piece of paper. No one has ever asked me for that piece of paper. Unless you absolutely need a degree to go into a career you should consider alternatives. I’m not knocking university, I learned a lot about myself there and it was great for me on a personal development level, but career-wise, not so much. I did also get a lot of events experience there, which I may not have got my current job without. I have thoroughly mixed feelings about university. Degrees prove a certain type of intelligence. Lots of people are viewed as stupid if they don’t go to university, but people forget about the other types of intelligence. For example, hard work, grafting and moving up the scale.

Now that I’ve got some experience in the events industry it’s helped me a lot as it’s helped me get experience to move on to start a career rather than just looking for jobs. After however many years of “education” it took this 4 month internship to help me narrow down exactly what I’d like to do. I always knew I wanted to work with music but this has confirmed my choices for me.

So, Anisa, what the hell do you want to do with your life?

Well, I spent a whole year applying for uni and from age 5 I always thought that I wanted to go to uni to study maths. About two weeks before results day (or D-day) I sat down with my family who told me “you don’t have to go to university if you don’t want to”. In that split second I decided that I didn’t want to go which was really strange for me as I thought I’d always wanted to go. From then my plan of action was to look for apprenticeships and jobs but a lot of the jobs I was looking at required lots of office experience, so I decided to go for an apprenticeship. On results day I realised that I could have got into uni and I declined my uni place. I was a bit upset but I thought I could pay £18k for uni or I could spend time earning that money.

I got a call from Future UnLtd telling me that they had an opportunity for me, within a week after that, I had an interview with them and then another with Think Big and I found out that I had an apprenticeship. This was all really fast paced and from the 3rd of September I started with Think Big as a business admin apprentice. No one expected me to get an apprenticeship that quickly, myself included. It was a fantastic boost for me and my own confidence.

The youth sector wasn’t ever a path I expected to take but it’s given me experience in different sectors and while I’ve been set in my ways to go into corporate and mathematics, but this has made me an all rounder. I’m going to finish my apprenticeship and see how it comes. Things are always changing. Myself included.

So, Alex, what the hell do you want to do with your life?

Well, my life has had a series of twists, turns and unexpected events. I followed my family’s wishes and went through the education system. I was awful in my A-Levels and ended up having to do an extra year in college. Eventually I got into university and went to Birmingham City for a year. I hated it. I left and ended up training as a chef for a year. While I was working and studying, I volunteered.

This was a turning point for me. I have suffered with depression for a long long time and volunteering helped me and is still helping me recover. I fell in love with the sector and was lucky enough to volunteer with a gent named Pete and eventually got the job I’m in now.

It’s a short version of my story, but I’ll upload my full story of self soon. Much like Anisa and Jade, I never intended to work in the sector. Unlike them both, this, at the moment, looks like the sector I want to stay in. Experience is what I want, returning to my previous role in community organising as a full time employee is what I’m hoping for one day once I build up my resilience, experience and knowledge.

A big thanks to Jade and Anisa for joining me on the ol’ bloggosphere today! #Collaboration #TeamworkMakesTheDreamWork #DreamTeam

The Volunteer Effect

In the jobs and volunteer roles that I have had I’ve noticed a definite shift in various aspects of my life and the lives of those around me. We don’t always realise how much things have changed until you just stop for a second and reflect on the years gone by! I’ve spent my weekend off thinking about all the things that have made me who I am today. A lot of these changes have come in the last few years and I’m sure they’re going to have a huge impact on my life from here on out.

A lot of these changes came about after I started to volunteer and since I started, I’ve felt a definite shift to the positive for various reasons. I wrote a blog on my LinkedIn profile about the benefits of volunteering recently, you can have a read here.
The benefits that I’ve written about in that blog are due to the Volunteer Effect. Volunteering effects people in different ways. For some, like myself, it has a profound effect on everything that I do.

The volunteer effect has made me consider the people around me before I do things. Even the little things, like whether or not I wash up, or what kind of food I eat in the office (I try not to eat overly smelly food!).

I was a very different person years ago, I was rude, obnoxious and generally not a very nice person. This is going back to secondary school. Some people say it was just a phase of teenage years and that’s fine. A lot of teenagers act out, but I don’t feel like I should have used it as an excuse. Between 2008 and 2012, after leaving my secondary school, I endeavoured to change who I was for the better. Stop stropping, be nicer and less of a drag on the people around me.

It’s only when I started to volunteer after dropping out of uni did I feel like I was succeeding. Not only were my decisions affected, my mood improved and I was excited to do stuff. All kinds of stuff, whether it was voluntary, work, social, everything seemed better. Despite volunteering for causes which were shocking, unjust and heart breaking the main thing that helped me see things differently were the people I met along the way. All these people working their arses off to help and I could see the smiles on their faces while they were doing it.

The Volunteer Effect for me is hard to describe with words, it’s benefiting me in so many ways (which I believe is best described in my LinkedIn post above) while I’m benefiting others and hopefully they go on to pay it forward. For me, the Volunteer Effect is simple, it’s a chain reaction of good. To finish, have a little look see at the image below. This, to me really embodies what volunteers do for the world. They want to make people happy. It’s just a bonus that it usually makes them happy too.

A