Next week, pupils across Scotland will receive their exam results. For many their next step will depend on the results they achieve and it can be disheartening if the outcome is not what they had hoped for.
When you’re young, it can seem that those older than you had an easy journey from school to their current job. However, this is not always (if ever) the case. Many people leave school with no clear idea about what they want to do next, and if they do they may not necessarily end up in that job.
As you progress through your career, you will be exposed to different opportunities and may learn that an area you were interested in no longer challenges you, or discover something that better suits your skills, interests, values or lifestyle. This means that everyone’s career journey has twists and turns, resulting in a destination we may not have considered while still at school.
Former Stromness Academy pupil Stuart Bevan works as a Renewable Energy Consultant with Aquatera, an environmental consultancy firm based in Stromness. However, his initial career path started with training to be a Solicitor.
“I didn’t have any concrete career ambitions at school as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I remember being jealous of those who knew exactly what they wanted to do and had a definite path worked out – it certainly added to the pressure to figure out what I wanted to do.”
After leaving school, Stuart took a year out and spent time working in Stromness and then travelling in New Zealand. When he returned, he studied Scots Law at the University of Strathclyde.
“This was a four year undergraduate degree with a one year Diploma in Professional Legal Practice. I then undertook a two year traineeship with a commercial law firm in Edinburgh, and stayed with the firm when I became a newly qualified Solicitor, working in their private client and commercial litigation departments for around two and a half years.
“I then started to question if being a solicitor was what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life. I decided it wasn’t and took the bold move to resign and take some time to determine my next move. There were certainly times when I questioned my decision, but for the most part I was confident I would be able to work out my next steps.”
Stuart went on to undertake a Masters in Renewable Energy Development at Heriot-Watt University at their ICIT Campus in Stromness. The course was a combination of taught modules and a dissertation. During this time, Stuart also secured a summer internship with Aquatera, which he undertook alongside writing his dissertation.
The internship resulted in an offer for a permanent position for his current role.
Reflecting on his career journey to date, Stuart said: “I enjoyed studying Scots Law, but there were certainly elements of the degree that I enjoyed more than others. I had always envisaged myself coming back to Orkney and renewables was a growth industry that could afford me that opportunity. It also had the added benefit of being an industry that reflected my values.
“My law degree taught me to be analytical, approach problems in a structured way and present my findings clearly and concisely. These skills are applicable on a renewable energy project, a business proposal or a presentation to an international delegation.”
Stuart’s advice to those considering a career change is equally applicable to those who may have to reassess their next step after receiving their exam results: “Don’t be afraid to make a big decision for fear of failure and, while it’s good to have a plan, it is important to be flexible – some of the best opportunities can crop up at the most unexpected times.”
To help young people across Orkney realise career paths can be varied and complex, we are supporting the ‘No Wrong Path’ campaign on Tuesday 6 August. You can read more here, or search the hashtag #NoWrongPath on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
You can read more about Stuart’s career journey at the link below.