I was invited to speak to young people about transferable skills over a careers week. It was rainy and overcast. I made my way to the venue armed with a data stick with my presentation on it. I had spent over a week thinking about what I would say. I really wanted to offer useful help for those at the start of their journey.
I spent the day speaking to different groups of students (16 to 18 years). The organiser suggested that I aim to inspire by talking about my own personal career journey and explore how the students could develop and pin-point their transferable skills.
I started the day with anticipatory excitement and ended the day on a low mood, sad and reflective. It didn’t matter that none of them wanted to ask any questions and they all sat quietly listening (exceptionally polite and obviously used to having one adult after another telling them what they should be planning for). I still came away wanting to cover them in bubble wrap and protect them from the world of work, university and life in general. They all seemed so fragile. I was sure they would break in two if they were flung into the world of work.
I’m not sure what they took away from the presentation I gave; I can’t really feel what it was like to be 17 years old anymore. I think the majority of us eventually come to terms with how the rest of our lives are going to be about work and the mundanity, trials and painful learning it can bring along with the occasional gains and sense of satisfaction – if we are lucky. I like to think that many young people are more astute than adults realise. Perhaps some of them will find a way to break out of the ins and outs of labour and earnings, so they can singularly take charge of their destinies and fly as high as they want to, be as happy as they can be and not succumb to institutionalised power structures, bureaucracy, endless meetings and petty micro-aggressions (all of which no doubt has contributed to spiralling levels of depression across industrialised economies).
If there was one thing on my slides which I would have liked them to take away it was the last bullet point which was ‘Be kind to yourself. Look after your needs. We all make mistakes.’
Below is a summary of what I spoke to the young people about – perhaps you may find it useful.