Pursue Your Passions: Two Sixth Formers share their careers journeys

Following National Careers Week, two Sixth Form students have shared their careers journeys through Barr Beacon School and how, by taking on and seeking out opportunities to explore their career aspirations, they have become more confident about their futures, even in the middle of a pandemic.  

The Summit 

By H Kumar-Mehay, Year 13 

“If my career journey has taught me anything, it would be to make the most out of everything you have and to use it as your own catalyst for more opportunities.” 

I guess I have always had an inkling of what career I wanted to pursue: dentistry. 

That’s right another student wanting a career dedicated to solely ‘helping people’ because of the sheer gratification it brings and the fact that I’ve always had a ‘passion’ for science. Those may sound like cliches for an application form but they are all true for me. I have always liked giving a helping hand to those who need it, even in times where people are completely content, and I’ve spent hours studying science textbooks, whether the articles were strictly relevant or not: from glucoregulation of the pancreas to the counter-current flow systems in fish (it’s more interesting than it sounds).  

Now, although I have been rather dedicated to preparing myself to be a perfect applicant to apply for dental school, I haven’t always had this mind-set. It’s one thing to know what you want right? Do you want to be famous? Rich? Even the next Gemma Collins? To each their own, I guess.  But the point is these are all dreams or aspirations. How many people actually achieve these things? The most important step is actively doing something to make those ‘dreams’ a reality.  

For me, that motivation didn’t always come from within. The catalyst for my motivation wasn’t an epiphany as I was sat in a dental chair or brushing my teeth. It was our school. From Careers Fairs to exam countdowns, it was evident that to get to where I needed to be, it wasn’t going to be handed to me. I would have to work for it and work hard. Every time I asked a university behind their booth in the sports hall ‘What are the requirements for your dentistry course?’ they would throw AAA in my face every time (even if I did cross my fingers they would specify grades that were at least a few grades lower), getting a high score on aptitude tests and what seemed like doing every extracurricular activity under the sun. Being swamped in prospectuses and flicking through their health sciences courses it was pretty evident the work that I was going to put in would be colossal, right?  

At the time, it seemed like I had a mountain to climb with not trekking poles or walking boots softening my journey – and the summit often felt like it wasn’t something I was going to reach. But the more I actively did and said ‘Yes’ to any opportunity that was given to me, big or small, it had a multiplier effect on the next thing I was going to do to help build my application. And the more I did this, the more I saw the support networks I had the whole time. I wasn’t alone hiking after all. These opportunities and the people offering them to me were the people who were lifting my feet. Luckily for you and me, these support networks are at our school. All of the opportunities I have had to help mould me into someone confident in applying to their dream course have been offered by Barr Beacon. Whether it was in Year 8 filming a BBC Schools news report to build my confidence and collaborative skills, or in Year 11 going on an exchange project to Italy to improve my communication and independence… all of these occasions have amalgamated and prepared me to be ready and confident to embark on the rest of my career pathway.  

These opportunities don’t have to be anything crazy. What’s important is that you have truly done something actively to fulfil your dream. If my career journey has taught me anything, it would be to make the most out of everything you have and to use it as your own catalyst for more opportunities.  

It’s not always clear what we want. Unlike me, you might not have a clue on the career you want to have. But my advice: take a small aspiration and run with it. You don’t have to be swamped in university prospectuses to know what you want but if you take all the chances given to you to help you live that dream, I know that our school can do it and will always be there to lift our feet to help us reach the summit of our career journeys. 

Sharks and the pandemic 

By E Lorton-Mulcare, Year 12 

“I think the most important thing the pandemic has taught me is to allow change into your future plans.” 

  • What do you want to do when you grow up?  
  • Who do you want to be? 
  • Who will you work for? 
  • What will you do? 

We’ve all been asked these questions since beginning of school, and back then it seemed like we had centuries to plan, to change our minds, and change our minds again. Many of us have gone from saying we wanted to be astronauts to doctors, from princesses to authors, from footballers to lawyers. And then there’s people like me who when first asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ answered the same as we would now. For me, that’s to be a marine biologist. 

From the ages of between 4-6, my fascination for the ocean and the creatures it hides beneath its depths began: this started from watching the infamous film Jaws with my brother (admittedly at an age that was way too young) where I became mesmerised by sharks. Ever since then I would constantly be watching shark documentaries and laughing at ridiculous shark films. But when I found out I could work with them as a marine biologist, that’s what I promised I would grow up to do. And I still say that now. 

The pandemic has given and taken away opportunities that would help me to achieve my dream job, but we will focus on the positives. I began to reach out to different researchers across the world asking them for advice on how to work with sharks and the path I should take. I got a surprisingly large amount of responses, all wishing me well on my future plans and giving me interesting stories on how they came to also be marine biologists. I hope to use their stories and advice in the future when I come to look for jobs in the marine biology field and aid my knowledge about the different types of work I could do. 

Secondly, I have been able to complete many online courses about the ocean, learning about the secrets it holds in its depths, from the effect of climate change to overfishing. These courses will not only aid my applications to university but will also help me to find a job in the future. Having this knowledge means I’ll be able to hold key conversations with future employers and colleagues that may help me to get a job or discover different opportunities. It also means that I’m able to conduct my own research. By being exposed to different articles I now know how research is prepared and analysed as well as how it’s presented.  

I have also been able to look at different types of courses I would like to do at university and find their requirements. I now know the exact university I want to go to and the course I want to do as well as the extra activities they offer that interest me. 

However, I think the most important thing the pandemic has taught me is to let change into your future plans. As someone who plans everything meticulously, the pandemic a lot of what I had planned, as it did for everyone, from the small to the big. But now I know that change can’t be avoided and, more often than not, it will be out of our control. We shouldn’t let this change what we want to do though. If you have a passion for something, pursue it no matter the situation! There will always be a way to achieve it if you are determined and prepared to work hard.

Like I’m sure we’ve all been told thousands of times: do something that makes you happy. For me that’s studying sharks, for you that might be helping people or exploring literature or history.  

Are you prepared to work hard through the difficult times of the pandemic and become the person that you want to be? 

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