Your complete career journey
Your complete career journey through school and college
Starting secondary school can be a crazy new experience. Schools are bigger, there are loads of new subjects and teachers to get to grips with, and not to mention all the new friends to keep up with!
As you start your journey into high school, you might not realise but you are also starting your career journey. Over the years that follow, you will be asked to make a number of decisions and choices that may affect your future.
This blog accompanies our Career Timeline, take a look and then click (below) on the stage of your journey you’re at, to find out more about what you need to do to maximise your success, why it’s important to your long term career goals and how best to make it happen.
Travel to your stage:
|Year 7||Year 8/9||Year 9/10||Year 11||Year 12||Year 13|
What: start High School
- start to learn about yourself
- experience studying new subjects
- meet new people
Starting new subjects in a different environment to primary school, with lots of new and interesting people around, can help you to learn what your likes and dislikes are. It can also teach you about your strengths and weaknesses. This might give you an idea of what jobs you might find interesting in the future.
Year 7 is all about getting to grips with things. Check out BBC Bitesize for loads of great hints and tips on how to boss your move to high school
You don’t have to make any big decisions at this point, but you might want to start thinking about which subjects you enjoy most and why.
What: choose courses and subjects for Key Stage 4
- subjects you enjoy
- subjects you are good at
- subjects you need for future career plans
Depending on your school, in Year 8 or 9 you will be asked to start thinking about your options. This is when you pick a few subjects to focus on for your GCSEs, so you can finally get rid of that subject you’ve always been rubbish at! (Unless that subject is maths, English or science, then I’ve got bad news, because you will definitely have to study these).
Schools will put lots of things in place to make sure you understand how to make the best choices.
Some schools will give you guides for which subjects you can match with which, they do this so that you are doing the courses that give you the best chances of success in the future.
If your school holds an options evening, go go go! And drag a parent or carer along with you too. Subjects at KS4 are different to how they are in Years 7, 8 and 9, and some schools even offer brand new courses for GCSE students. Going to options evening means you can chat to teachers and older students about exactly what to expect. We (your careers advisers) will also be on hand to help you make sense of it all.
Your teachers might recommend that you consider something called the Ebacc - or to give it it’s posh title, the English Baccalaureate. This basically means making sure you study maths, English, science, geography OR history and a language. This is so that you would have a balanced education and are set up for most career paths that you might want to follow as you get older.
Some of our schools will give you our awesome Directions booklet; if you get one, use it. There’s loads of hints and tips about picking the best subjects for you.
Now is also a good time to start thinking about possible careers, so that you can pick the subjects that may help with those careers. For example, if you really want to be chef, taking music might not be as useful to you as food technology!
Try some of our career match tools to find out what jobs you might be suited to.
What: Key Stage 4
- start new courses
- learn about your options after Year 11
Year 11 can be very full on as you get ready for your exams and to leave school for good. That’s why it’s important to start thinking about your options as soon as possible. One less thing to worry about next year, right?
Due to something called Raising the Participation Age, everyone has to stay in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday. But don’t worry, this doesn’t necessarily mean staying at school - the beauty of this is that you can decide what you do to match your own interests and ambitions.
There are loads of different courses and ways of working, in hundreds of different subjects. You might’ve heard of things like A Levels, T levels, apprenticeships and BTECs. Year 10 is a good time to start finding out about the differences between all these things, the different areas of study available and where they’re offered.
You might have careers interviews or careers fairs at school - these are designed to give you the opportunity to do research into areas that you’re interested in and ask questions. Remember that your careers adviser is always on hand, and there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
You might also take part in work experience or get a part-time job in an area of interest. This is really good at giving you practical, real life experience, so you can test whether or not that is the right job for you.
Don’t forget about those career match tools we mentioned earlier. They will help to give you more ideas as to what career areas might be worth trying.
What: research and apply for what you are going to do after Year 11. You have to stay in learning until you are 18.
- a full-time course
- an apprenticeship or traineeship
- working or volunteering (for 20 hours or more a week) combined with part-time education or training
There are so many options available now and you don’t want to be stuck stressing about what you’re going to do as you get to the end of Year 11 - that’s the last thing you need on top of your exams! That’s why it’s important to have started to think about these things before now.
Think about the way you learn best, what subjects/course you would like to do, and where you would like to study.
Attend our Get Organised events! There, you can find colleges, training providers and employers all in one place, alongside all of our careers advisers. It’s really handy to see all the different options and find out what’s available.
We also have a Get Organised booklet that lists all the steps you need to take to get on the perfect course for you. Guard it with your life - I promise it’ll come in handy!
Take advantage of your careers adviser’s knowledge and expertise, this is exactly what they’re there for.
Finally - revise, revise, revise. There’s no point doing all this planning if you’re not going to bother with your exams! Make it worth your while.
What: invest in your future
- start a new course or apprenticeship
- research your options after Year 13
It’s important to think about what you want out of a career - there’s no point throwing away all that hard work planning your future now! Do you want to own your own business, become a senior member of your team or win awards? If so, do you know how to get there? Maybe you need to do some more studying - have you considered university, or taking professional qualifications? Year 12 is a great time to plan, plan, plan.
Talk to your careers adviser at sixth form or college, pop into one of our centres in Halifax or Huddersfield or contact our Chat service to speak to a careers adviser working in Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield and surrounding areas.
If you’re thinking about higher education, our UniFAQs guide is a good place to start. Think about attending open days and using sites like UCAS to explore courses on offer at different universities.
If you’re looking to get a job, think about what career you would like. Use JobFAQs for tips on how to find and land your dream job.
Whatever route you’re planning, now is a good time to take part in some all-important work experience. Try and do something that is relevant to your long-term goals. This will ensure that you have something great to put on your CV or application form!
What: research and apply for what you are going to do after Year 13 or when you have completed your apprenticeship
- higher education
- an apprenticeship - look out for higher and degree apprenticeships
- full-time work
- a career idea change - consider a course at a local college - check funding before you apply
- voluntary work
You’ve spent years making small decisions that have got you to this point. Now it’s time to put those career plans into practice and take the leap away from the security of compulsory learning, and in to the big wide world!
Apply, apply, apply! If you’ve chosen to go into higher education, you’ll need to complete a UCAS application form. There are strict deadlines for these, so make sure you know what you need to do and by when.
Looking for employment? The rules are still the same. Apply apply apply! Use job databases such as Indeed or Recruitline to search for vacancies. Make sure your CV is looking perfect and write some killer cover letters. Consider approaching companies directly; even if they’re not currently advertising, you might just impress them!
If you have exams, please don’t forget to revise. You’ve worked for years to get to this point - make sure you come away smiling on results day!
Wherever you are on your careers journey, remember C&K Careers Chat is here Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm to answer any questions that you may have.
T: 01484 213856
W: Facebook Messenger @CKCareers
Trainee Careers Adviser
Page updated June 2020