By Tom Previte
To Uni, or not to Uni? Excuse the cheesy line but how else am I meant to get peoples attention on this?
10+ years ago, the general consensus was; university will get you a well paid job and comfortable lifestyle. However, in recent years, with the rise of tuition fees and seemingly increased competition in post grad positions, I believe there are so many more opportunities available to young people.
Choosing a university degree and deciding on your future career path is not something you would expect a young student to get right first time, so why make them specify at such an early stage? The current educational system is too rigid and can narrow a pupils career path.
Do most students question whether a three-year degree will put them in the best situation to move forward? Perhaps an internship or apprenticeship would suit better? University is not for everyone and with the ever-changing work environment it’s worth considering the alternatives available, some of which are mentioned below.
An apprenticeship is more structured, skills focused and sometimes more theoretical, a good way to prepare yourself for a vocational career path. I believe this is a move that you should make when you are certain on what you want to do because you don’t want to regret it!
Affordable and flexible online courses are a great way to gain new, valuable skills and ultimately make you more hireable. You can go from zero coding experience to a junior developer in just 3 months for example! Don’t be fooled into thinking it is an easy option however. You need to be highly motivated and dedicate consistent hours to get the most out of these courses. Check out sites like Udemy, GeneralAssembly and Makers Academyif you are interested.
There is always the corporate structured route, taking internal exams whilst interning at a company. However, without a degree you may struggle to grow past a certain point in some companies, but it’s still a good option.
For me, during a year out after school, I found out how I wanted to work rather than what I wanted to do. I was interested in a fast paced environment where I would constantly be challenged. I was curious about the London startup scene and so took my curiosity off to Old street/Shoreditch.
With an internship you have to go in for the right reasons. You will most likely be working for little or no pay and grafting some long hours. They have been heavily scrutinised over the last few years and rightly so in some circumstances. However, if you are fresh out of school you shouldn’t exclude the prospect. You’ve got to start somewhere! WorkInStartups is great for finding these.
I interned at a startup incubator called Launch22. With the nature of startups, I got to get my hands dirty in all areas, events management, marketing, operations and more.
Now Centre Manager at Launch22, I have had the great pleasure of working alongside a huge range of interns, members and reputable mentors. For me, working in a startup has been the best decision I’ve made so far. Take a company like Launch22. I would describe it as a sandpit; a place where you can be creative, express your opinion, grow in whichever field you enjoy and ultimately, build your own castle (metaphorically). I’ve learnt an incredible amount in a relatively short space of time and had the best time doing so.
So… To Uni, or not to Uni? These are just a few alternatives and there are plenty more out there, so do your research! You never know what opportunities you might find.