career opportunities (the ones that never knock.)

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – 2021)

I left school in June 74 and was neither sad nor ecstatic, I was ready to move on.

I liked school for the sport and the camaraderie and for the subjects I enjoyed, but I wasn’t disciplined enough about the other subjects to have any kind of academic future, and you had to be a pretty smart all-rounder or a very good specialist to go on to Uni in those days.

I do remember the career adviser coming to our school in our final year though.

He sat across from me with my academic results in front of him. Results that would have portrayed someone who was half decent at English, History and Modern Studies, but hopeless with any type of numeric/scientific based topic other than basic arithmetic.

Oh, and equally useless with their hands.

I was once told by the woodwork teacher, to the amusement of the class, that my single funnel boat in woodwork looked more like a crucifix than the Queen Mary.

With such a lop-sided résumé I’m not sure the career advisor knew what to say to me…. most people he saw naturally filtered into a convenient category….

Good at woodwork or metalwork, you’ll get an apprenticeship and learn a trade.

Good at home economics, you’ll go to catering school

Good at one of the arts, then you’ll go to a specialist arts faculty.

Bit of an all-rounder and decent at maths and English, you could have a career in banking or the civil service.

Very bright, straight A student, you’ll go to Uni learn how to drink and debate, you’ll get a degree and then it’s up to you…

So, devoid of ideas the chap did the only thing left open to him and asked me what sort of career I foresaw for myself.

Scrambling for an answer and with the urge to get away sharpish so I could catch the school bus for my daily fix of Crossroads. I immediately thought of David Hunter the debonair General Manager of said establishment who swanned about the place in smart suits chatting up the staff and charming the guests whilst breaking hearts and drinking sherry…. so I blurted out the only logical thing that came into my head – “Hotel Management”

I could see the guy trying to work out how he could shoehorn my skillsets into any type of management position and I’m sure he was looking at me thinking I was more Benny the hapless handyman than David the dashing GM.

Nonetheless he made the right noises and duly produced a leaflet about Hotel Management courses, which I didn’t even know was a thing, but I thanked him for the great advice, stuffed the leaflet into my bag and legged it for the bus.

Suffice to say, I never made it to catering college or discovered a penchant for Spanish fortified wine made from the Palomino grape, although I must admit, other fortified wines did find a way past my lips back then.

I left school with some decent skill-sets, a load of good mates and some great memories which was good enough for me.

I don’t recall anyone I know ever claiming that they were inspired or ‘pointed in the right direction’ by the career-guidance guy, so maybe my response to the chap when he quite literally asked me a question that he was being paid to answer himself, should have been –
‘Maybe I can do your job…… properly!’

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