School leavers usually have one of three approaches. The first and probably the most common is the type of school leaver who is sad to go and wishes their school days wouldn’t come to an end. The second is the type of leaver who is excited to leave and the third is the type of leaver who is just drifting along and doesn’t really have an opinion; they’re not too bothered either way and will just see what comes next.
The third type of school leaver mentioned above is by far the rarest. Most leavers will either be sad or happy but what they have in common is that they’re already planning what happens next. And sometimes that planning can involve an element of worry.
Here, Will Potterton, Director at Leavers Hoodies Company provides his top life hacks for school leavers wondering ‘what next?’.
If you can, take your time
If you aren’t sure what you want to do or what you should do when you leave school, don’t rush it. Many people won’t have these answers until they’re in their twenties, thirties or even forties.
Take some time to think about what you enjoy doing the most and what skills are involved in these things. You’re likely to find out that you’re good at the things that you enjoy doing the most, so the associated skills will be a good starting point for you to look to develop in a job or further education.
Find something to keep you busy
Taking your time with career or further education choices shouldn’t mean that you sit in the house on your mobile phone or laptop all day. Find something to do that will keep you busy, but which will help you to develop as a person too.
A job in services is a great place to begin. Try something like a customer services role, working in a shop, café or call centre. This type of job will help you to develop skills like prioritisation and customer care as well as exposing you to different types of people. You might really enjoy this type of work or alternatively you could hate it – in which case it will help you to know what you don’t want to do. Either way it’s a great way to invest your time after leaving school, as working will help you to build your confidence as a school leaver, whilst you decide what it is that you really want to do next.
Don’t get so busy working that you stop taking an interest in learning. If your favourite lesson at school was history, take some time every day to learn something new about a different time, place or country. Or if you found learning equations interesting, try applying them to real life situations in your life or on the news. The fact that you continue to spend time learning won’t just keep your brain active, it will also make you stand out as a candidate when it comes to applying for a job, college or university.
Help other people to widen your network
If you have a friend who is working as a waiter/waitress for an event and they need an extra pair of hands, give it a go. Don’t say no to opportunities to broaden your horizons. You might really enjoy that type of work and decide to study it or apply for a job in it.
Similarly, if one of your parents’ friends has some office work available at the company they are employed at, bite their hand off. Helping them out will be helping yourself in the long run and in any circumstance like this, you’ll be meeting business people and expanding your professional network.
Imagine meeting a business owner whilst waiting on their table at an event. They might work in an industry you’re really interested in and by relating to something they say or do (e.g. if you’re into maths and they magically split the bill in under a second or they quote ‘My Kingdom for a horse’ if you’re into English Literature) then by showing you know what they’re talking about, this could spark a conversation that will make them remember you when they’re looking for someone to come and work with them in the future.
Do something you enjoy regularly
It’s easy to become a bit deflated after leaving school. You’ll have spent years being directed by others and maintaining a pace where you always have another lesson to go to and another day full of activity during the week. If you lose that structure, it can be difficult to stay motivated after leaving school.
A top life hack for this is to plan in time to do something that you enjoy. It could be visiting the cinema once a week with friends, baking every couple of days or going swimming in the morning – whatever it is that you enjoy doing, keep hold of that. It will help you to maintain some structure and control over one aspect of your life when everything else is changing after leaving school.