In the last two weeks students in the UK have been receiving exam results; many of those achieving their desired A-level results will soon be embarking on a road to higher education. Sadly, it is almost certain that a good proportion of these students will find their courses suit them poorly. The lucky ones will work this out sooner rather than later.
When I was 18 I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon - I had wanted this for as long as I could remember. I was thrilled to be one of the lucky few who was able to fulfil this ambition. Why did I want it? I was good at science, liked animals and had a romantic ideal of what the job entailed. The fact that what I enjoyed doing was sitting with my computer and writing code didn't factor into my decisions.
After leaving university I spent seven years in veterinary practice, working with horses in a variety of roles as general practicioner, intensivist and anaesthetist. There were parts of it I loved doing. Nonetheless, the joy of sitting in front of a computer writing code never abated.
It took me six years to realise that if I wanted true contentment in my work, then I should look at what I love doing and make that my work. A year later, after spending many hours getting my programming skills to an employable state I was lucky enough to get a foot on the ladder in the technology industry. It's now six months later and my only regret is not doing this years ago.
I consider myself lucky to now be in a job I love using incredible technology to make great products - it took me a while to get here but it was worth it. To those A-level students receiving their results and deciding on their futures, my advice is to look to what you truly enjoy doing in life and follow it. Don't be afraid to take an unconventional path, and don't be afraid to step off it if you aren't happy.
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