Last week, I mentored 28 GCSE students from a secondary school in London aged 15 and 16 during a Speed Careers day organised by my work HR and Volunteering Matters. I was 1 out of 6 staff from different divisions (Technology, Global Markets, Risk, Finance, HR) in my organisation that took part in the Careers day. Here are some of my takeaways from that session.
Aims of the Careers day
- To provide pupils from state secondary schools with opportunities to enhance their employability skills
- To provide access to positive role models in a business environment and allow students to learn more about the world of work and their own future employment paths
- To facilitate working in teams with their peers to develop skills such as time management, problem solving and communication
- Have a fun and memorable experience
I facilitated challenges such as a skills audit and career goal setting. We also had some fun sessions such as a “Before they were famous quiz“. Did you know Simon Cowell used to work in a mail room before he became famous?
The students then rotated around the staff volunteers, in pairs or in small groups asking careers based questions. We were then split into smaller groups. Some of the questions the students asked me were: What do you love most about your job? What is the worst/best part of my job? What did you want to be when you were a child? Who inspired you the most? Did you pass Maths and English?
Out of the 5 students I mentored, I only managed to convince 1 of them to aim for a career in financial services and IT. I tried to sell the perks of working in a good 9-5 job such as you get 30 paid holidays, paid sick leave, flexibility (work from home remotely), get to work on interesting projects, get to work with diverse and smart people, get to travel – I went on holiday to 6 countries last year alone with my 9-5 paycheck doesn’t that sound reasonable enough?
However, I couldn’t convince them as firstly they didn’t like Mathematics therefore even though they thought it was cool to work in a Bank, they didn’t believe they would get good enough grades to get them into a career in banking and IT. However, the main setback was that they thought it would be boring and dull for them being sat in front of a computer most of the time.
Instead they wanted a career in SOCIAL MEDIA and TV- Youtube, Snapchat or reality TV. That is the in thing now isn’t it?
I must also mention how most of them seemed very addicted to their phones. Their teachers had to come over to remind them several times to put their phones away. Infact she jokingly told me they can literally have a panic attack if they don’t have their phone on them.
They also told me they do not use facebook. They all really love snapchat. They are all part of this Snapchat challenge where you accumulate points and trophies (on the phone not real) if you snap often. I asked them “you seem to spend so much time on this Snapchat challenge, would it eventually lead to you getting paid or employed by Snapchat”? Their answer- it makes them happy.
On the positive side they were quite respectful and polite and I think because I listened to them, they warmed up a bit to me and I was able to make them do most of the career challenges.
They say money doesn’t bring happiness…I say neither does being broke
I feel if you have young people around you, its key to expose them to different employment paths and real-life positive and successful role models very early on so they don’t get informed only by what they see on social media. If you’re a young person- get your good grades, get a university degree, get relevant work experience regardless of your passion and interest. Not everyone can make it big in reality tv, entrepreneurship or social media like Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner or Jamie&Niks or Patricia Bright or Jackie Aina (bringing it closer to home). There will only be a handful of people in our lifetime who will make it big like Mark Zuckerberg with a startup as successful as Facebook and Instagram. Don’t be deceived, many of the so-called Social Entrepreneurs you see are BROKE and FAKE!!!
Many enter- few prevail
I’ve been both an employee and entrepreneur (and still am). So don’t get me wrong, being an entrepreneur is great especially if you’re successful at it. However, I can also tell you every person who contacts you on social media about your website or service would literally become your boss. You work much harder and longer and guess what – you see less results. You are the creative, the writer, the photographer, the PR. You organise the workshops and events. You schedule the coaching meetings. You manage your social media accounts. You name it , it’s all on you.
Here are few points to note from my personal experiences about being your own boss:
- We all cant be founders and CEOs, somebody has to do the rest of the other work. The world still really needs Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers, Accountants and Engineers. These are all awesome professions too. We all can’t be beauty vloggers or a brand ambassador or an app developer.
- The hype about being your own boss is pushing many people into lifestyles which they are not built or ready for.
- Being your own boss looks cool from the outside until you realise the stats on failure are very true. On top of all the hardwork and long hours, you still only have a small chance of actually succeeding. Very few people will ever make a £1m in a month through vlogging, blogging or a startup.
- The glitz and glamour of a being your own boss or startup success might allure many young people but the sacrifices will scare off many after few months.
- You have to spend your money on everything from websites to logo, to business cards to professional photography etc. and the time you spend on these activities is not compensated.
- Working hard and making no money isn’t very attractive especially when you have a family to take care of.
Here are few point to note from my personal experiences about being an employee:
Photo above from 2010: Enroute India from London on a work business trip
- You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to travel the world. In fact, becoming an entrepreneur might make it take longer or be less likely to ever happen. Some employers (like mine) will let you do it, while paying you a salary. I have been to India and New York on business trips (before I had children) and yes I flew business class (photo above).
- As an employee, you have guaranteed income and paid leave from day one. I’m pretty self-sufficient- I’ve never borrowed money from anyone since I graduated which is quite cool.
- Not all managers and bosses are incompetent micro-managers. Not all jobs are soul sucking. You just need to find a job where you can be valued and can focus on your strengths and growth.
- If you look carefully, you can probably find an organisation where your work environment will include good people, flexible work hours and flexible work locations.
- It is very likely most employees in specialist roles or consultants (some Project Management or Business Analyst consultants get paid up to £500 on a daily basis) actually make more money on average than an entrepreneur given how so many entrepreneurs fail eventually.
- If you can find a job that doesn’t have crazy work hours, you should have some spare time to explore your entrepreneurial inclinations on the side.
- With a side hustle, you can earn some extra money on top of a salary to aim toward financial freedom.
I asked some parent bloggers, working and/or entrepreneurs from the UK community why they think being your own boss is overrated- here are some of their responses:
Lianne Marie Freeman from Anklebitersadventures
“All of your free time goes in to the blog , where if you have a 9-5 job you can come home and chill for the evening”
Ayse Erdin from Arepops
“When you have a ‘regular’ job you have sick days and get holiday – working for yourself and for not very much you have to just get on with it!”
Laura Dove from Five Little Doves
“In a regular job you get paid each month regardless. With the blog you’re literally jumping into uncertainty each month!!”
Sinead Latham from Sinead Latham
“It’s the tag I think is over rated. People assume your a high flyer a la The Apprentice, having lunches and doing lots of blue sky thinking! The reality is you are the whole business and people forget the skills you have. I work Smarter, not harder for my freelance role.”
Victoria Sully from Lylia Rose
“This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes ‘entrepreneurs are the only people who work 80 hours, to give up working 40’. It’s so true! It definitely takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice with little pay at first, but hopefully over time it will be worth it and good things will happen.”
Teri Frecknall from Rhymingmum
“There’s no one to pick up the slack if you don’t have time to do everything! You just have to work harder to do it all or let some things slip.”
Veronica Mitchell from My Parenting Journey
“Your performance directly affects the business. There is definitely a bigger responsibility and a bigger risk of losing.”
Clare Coleman from Wild Mama Wild Tribe
“The fact that when people hear you ‘work from home’ they interpret this as ‘oh she doesn’t have a proper job, she can drop everything at a millisecond’s notice'”
What are your thoughts? Do you think being an entrepreneur is slightly overrated?