08/08/2023 (Staff Post - Alan McNiven )

So think about this little scene; apply it to your life, If your work isn't what you love, then something isn't right.

It’s exam results day for school pupils across Scotland and it’s been great to see lots of professionals, under the #NoWrongPath banner, actively reminding young people that exam results are not the sole factor of their future success or potential. Career journeys are often full of twists and turns, and what might seem like a setback can often lead to unexpected and exciting opportunities. People often find their true passion and potential through exploration and experimentation and of course your career is a continuous learning process.

It got me thinking about my own twisting path - I wanted to be an artist – not sure what kind, just ‘artist’.... My first paid job was cleaning shoes. This was when I was about 7 or 8 – I wasn’t being sent out to sit on street corners or anything, it’s just that I would clean them for my older brothers. Story goes that the scar I have on the bridge of my nose is from when I was carrying shoes to clean, tripped and skelped my nose off the step between the kitchen and the hall.  Later I would help mates of mine who had proper jobs – food and veg sales in vans, newspaper runs etc. and occasionally I would get a couple of quid for washing a car, but I never really had a regular ‘job’ till I left school and found myself on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme!) doing some design and screen printing. As I said art was my passion - I hoped to go to art school - but within a year, I was offered a full-time supervisor role within the YTS project. Later I left that role and went to study photography and as a student I spent time working in design studios and picked up some freelance photography jobs (nothing so daunting as photographing a wedding believe me...). I also worked in a music shop and recording studio. Because of my connection to the recording studio I ended up working in a music venue/pub place and I was offered a permanent job there but I moved on from that too…

This is just a wee sample of my stops along the way but hopefully you see what I mean. Employment is a long journey so I would encourage young people thinking of further study or perhaps starting their careers to explore their interests, take calculated risks, and embrace change – you never know where your next path might lead. For sure many of the things I learned in one area of work were certainly valuable in another – getting the money out of my brothers for shoe cleaning no doubt helped with me with dealing with punters in the pub - and being open to change often led to new areas of experience. I’ve always suggested that putting your hand up and saying ‘I’ll dae it’ when an opportunity is presented is a decent idea…

Here’s a wee reminder that it’s International Youth Day on the 12th of August


All the best


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