“We’re not all built from the same mould”: Careers advice from our specialists

Posted in Candidates

Posted by Joanne Caine
Published on 16 August, 2021

This week, up and down the country, thousands of A-Level students received their grades after weeks of anticipation. And as all of us aged 17 and above will know, waiting for and subsequently picking up your results is potentially one of the most nerve-wracking times of your life. For many, it is drummed relentlessly that the letters inside the envelope determine the way the rest of your life will unfold – no pressure.  

What we aren’t told as much (which we really should be) is that not everyone will be an A* achiever. We’re not all academic, humans aren’t made from the same mould and we’re not all destined to follow the same path. The world would be incredibly boring if that were the case.

So, if your A-Level results didn’t quite work out the way you were told they should, or even if they did but you’re not sure if university is the best option for you, other amazing prospects lie in wait.

Here are a few words of wisdom from our recruitment specialists about where to turn to next.  

Dani Osbourne - HR: Defer your place and take a leap

Just because you thought you were going to go to university in 2021 doesn’t mean you have to go to university in 2021. If your results didn’t quite hit the mark this year, you may be able to strike a deal with your university of choice and defer your place for a year. This scenario is more common than you may expect and may be the best decision you ever make.  

With your year out, you can take the time to do something completely different. Perhaps travelling the world could be on your agenda or volunteering with a charity – maybe work experience in your chosen field to give you an early step up on the career ladder. The list is endless.  

What this option will do is not only give you time out from education to rest and recuperate (A-Levels aren’t easy!), but it will allow you to do and see things you may not have the opportunity to do so again for a very long time. And don’t forget, all experience is valuable for your CV! 

Jo Howell - Accountancy: Explore alternate routes 

Nowadays, university isn’t the be all and end all of higher education. Holding A-Levels gives you the opportunity to explore numerous pathways into further learning and careers and, more often than not, for a lot less money!  

Apprenticeships, vocational studies, or alternate exam-based qualifications (such as the ACCA qualification for budding Accountants) are all options available to you. Not only are they much more accessible than university, but many of these choices will also allow you to ‘earn while you learn’, giving you valuable experience and allowing you to have financial independence – a luxury not many students have.  

Lynsey Skinner – IT and Technology: Try temping

It may be that when you open your results, university simply isn’t on the cards for you anymore – and that’s ok. Some of the brightest minds of past generations have been those without a degree; Apple’s Steve Jobs is a key example here.  

But this complete u-turn may mean you’re a little unsure of where to go in terms of getting your foot in the door with a career. This is where interim or temporary roles are invaluable. Working for a specific sector for a short period of time will you give key industry experience and well as transferrable skills, but without the worry of being tied down for a long time if it isn’t for you.  

Through short bursts of employment, you can work out where your passions lie and what career path is perfect for you while also garnering brilliant knowledge and skillsets for your CV. And, more often than not, once you’ve found that perfect role – an interim job has the opportunity to become a permanent placement. 

A lot of stress can surround A-Level results, usually because of the pressure we put on ourselves to follow a stereotypical route. However, this needn’t be the case. The options to take after school are limitless and it’s crucial that you follow your own path – not someone else’s. Not only will you enjoy what do you do ten-fold in comparison, but you’re far more likely to feel satisfied and much happier. A win-win situation. 


Managing Director

I joined Cathedral Appointments in 1998 to cover a maternity leave and never left. I now own the business and love my job. I've a great team of consultants who work with me in ensuring that Cathedral Appointments provide an excellent service to candidates and clients alike.

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“We’re not all built from the same mould”: Careers advice from our specialists

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