To date, my experience of Adams’ was school discos, balls and standing pitch-side at Longford Hall. To enter these ‘hallowed’ premises as a company director, just six months’ after starting a business seemed a little fraudulent if I’m honest but I was assured that the organisers wanted to offer a wide range of advice, options and insight.
Planning for the Future
In previous years, the careers event had focussed on universities, the forces and large manufacturing and engineering companies; Adams’ has a reputation for producing top quality students with a mathematical, scientific and engineering bias. Talking with event organiser and school secretary, Jon Stork this year was different. Just one university was in attendance, three of the armed forces and a handful of engineering businesses. Instead I was joined by an adviser from CITB, a barrister, NHS training, an architectural practice, an IT development company, estate agency, Weston Park events team and a financial advisor, amongst others. The aim: to show Years 10/11/12 and 13 that further education isn’t the only route available and that their options are limitless.
Minus the obligatory pop-up display and freebies, I bedded myself in, ready for two hours of smiling and being studiously ignored, after all, no one at Adams’ was interested in marketing or so I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, Trevor from CITB was distinctly put-out when I had a queue of Year 10 and 11s and he was yet to speak to a single pupil!
The questions ranged from vague to down-right taxing. Some blushed, others avoided eye contact while others blew me away with their intelligence and inquisitive nature. We discussed digital versus traditional, marketing budgets, return on investment, psychology in marketing and the value of work experience. In truth, I was impressed by the number of boys who saw marketing as a career option. Adams’ is traditionally a boys’ grammar school but since 1993 has taken girls aged 16-18 as day pupils. Out of the 20 or so pupils that I talked with, just two were girls, both with purpose and a plan (in contrast to some of the boys it must be said!).
Qualifications V Experience
As we talked, I could see the reason for my inclusion. I have no formal marketing or PR qualifications, yet after 10 years in the industry I have started a marketing agency in partnership with a former colleague. I am proof that experience matters, and while I have a degree in a useful subject (English Literature), my career is based on the specialist knowledge and skills gained through employment. Some pupils were shocked by my admission but on explanation, many began to appreciate that there’s more to forging a career than having the right qualifications. I left Adams’ Grammar School feeling inspired, I just hope that I left a little of that inspiration behind!
Thank you, Sonya, Jon and the wider Adams’ team for the opportunity and your hospitality.