每日探花

Activate Alumni Case Studies

Find out what our students have been doing since they studied at an 每日探花 College.

What are they up to now?

Many of our alumni have gone on to do amazing things and we are proud to showcase their remarkable journeys. It鈥檚 a testament to the transformative power of education that these inspiring individuals have carved their paths to success.

Join us as we celebrate their achievements, draw inspiration from their experiences, and discover the boundless possibilities that await those who have studied at 每日探花.

Want to share your story? We would love to hear from you too! Please get in touch via alumni@activatelearning.ac.uk

Abbie Trussler Projects Coordinator for No5 Young People

Life at Reading College

Abbie Trussler completed her Media Level 3 Extended Diploma at Reading College, part of 每日探花, in 2018. She is now a Projects Coordinator for , a Reading-based mental health charity.

鈥淐ollege was a great experience and was quite different compared to secondary school. We were treated like adults, and I got to be in a room of like-minded people and have hands-on, practical experience,鈥 she said.

Life after college

Abbie shared what her role at No5 Young People consists of, and how she has managed to transfer the skills she gained at Reading College.

鈥淧art of my role is communications and marketing and I get to use my skills learnt in college, creating video content for campaigns, workshops, social media and our training course,鈥 she said.

鈥淥ne of my most recent projects was a video launching the campaign for Reading Young People鈥檚 Hub. I got the opportunity to interview young people from all over the area, to make sure their voices are heard.

鈥淚t is incredible to be able to provide this platform from the skills I learnt at Reading College.鈥

Transferrable skills

Alongside her full-time career, Abbie has found a way to use her creativity and the skills learnt from college, by setting up her own business in another area she is passionate about.

She said: 鈥淚 also run a small business on Etsy, , where I sell crochet gifts, home d茅cor and accessories.

鈥淚 do all my own marketing for my shop as well. Most of my sales have come through social media, particularly my video content, which shows how valuable the skills I learnt at college have been, even in my own projects!鈥

What inspires you

Abbie shares what inspired her to pursue this career path, and what drives her passion in her everyday work.

鈥淎 mix of the friends I made at college and the experience I had at No5 as a teenager inspired me into my current career and taught me to always stay true to who I am and follow my passions.

鈥淚 am also very proud of being able to use my skills to help improve young people's mental health and the profile of such an important charity,鈥 she added.

Advice for college leavers

Abbie shared some words of wisdom for college leavers as they take their next steps.

鈥淵ou don鈥檛 have to have it all worked out now. Very few people know exactly what they want to do after college.

鈥淛ust follow your passions and embrace new opportunities. Sometimes the perfect thing you couldn鈥檛 have imagined will come up just for you!鈥

Andrew Haydon Practice Educator for Oncology

Life at Reading College

Andrew Haydon studied Access to HE: Nursing at Reading College from 2014 to 2015. He now works for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust as a Practice Educator for Oncology, after achieving a first-class degree in Adult Nursing at the University of West London.

Andrew said:College set me up really well for university, giving me the study skills that I didn't have.

鈥淭he way the course is interlinked with your first year at university means you have a great foundation for when you start your degree. I felt like I was already ahead when I started university.

鈥淚 left school at 16 with below average GCSEs, then trained as a golf professional and took a more practical route. So, to go back to studying was challenging as I had been out of education for 16 years.鈥

Coming back to Education

Andrew shared his experience of returning to education later in life, and what led him down this unexpected path.

鈥淚'd never written an assignment with references or a bibliography or anything like that, so I had to learn a lot of new academic skills and life skills, which was daunting.

鈥淢y wife was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in the November of 2011. We also lost her mum in 2012 to lung cancer.

鈥淚t was when my wife was going through treatment that I first felt the desire to become a nurse, as I wanted to learn how to better support her and others in similar situations.

鈥淪he then encouraged me to go to college, and the support I received from the teaching staff helped me overcome my doubts about returning to education,鈥 Andrew added.

Life since college

Since attending Reading College, Andrew secured a place at the University of West London and achieved a first-class degree in Adult Nursing.

鈥淚 qualified in 2018 and started working in A&E. Then I got a promotion and went to be a senior nurse in respiratory throughout the second wave of COVID,鈥 Andrew said.

鈥淣ow I look after education within Oncology. My title is Practice Educator and I look after all the educational needs of all the nurses and care support workers and support staff across the whole of Oncology.

鈥淚'm also doing a PGCert in healthcare education at the University of Reading, to develop my teaching knowledge and skills.鈥

Proudest achievement

Andrew鈥檚 proudest achievement is completing his Access to HE course and degree with a young family and making the best out of a bad situation.

鈥淵ou'll never have a positive experience out of having a cancer diagnosis, but strangely, lots of positive things have come out of it, like me getting my degree and becoming a nurse,鈥 Andrew said.

鈥淚 think many adult learners tend to have a personal connection or an experience in the area that they want to study, and that gives them a greater drive and motivation to succeed.鈥

Advice for changing career paths later in life

Andrew had some words of wisdom to share with others who want to go back to education later in life to change their career path.

鈥淭ake the opportunity with both hands. Understand that it鈥檒l be challenging but that the end goal is 100% worth it,鈥 said Andrew.

鈥淢y advice would be to fully immerse yourself in college life and university life. Test your boundaries and push yourself well outside your comfort zone, because it鈥檒l teach you valuable skills for life and your career.鈥

Anna Lumsden Freelance hair and make-up artist

Life at Guildford College

Anna Lumsden completed her Hair and Media Make-up Level 3 Extended Diploma at Guildford College in 2017. She now works as a freelance hair and make-up artist.

鈥淚 loved my time at Guildford College. I made friends for life, learnt so much, and took part in many opportunities, such as national make-up competitions and lots of work experiences,鈥 said Anna.

鈥淢y time at Guildford College helped me build a solid foundation for my career, gain more confidence, and discover what I鈥檓 capable of.

鈥淚 will always be grateful for my time there, especially the support of my course tutor Jaceyann Smith. She believed in me and always supported and pushed me to be the best I could be.鈥

Favourite memory from college

鈥淥ne of my favourite memories from my time at Guildford College was winning gold at the national final of the .鈥 Anna shared.

鈥淚 had worked so hard and put everything into my preparation. It was an amazing experience, and I learnt many valuable skills, including working under pressure and with a time limit.

鈥淭hese are skills I still use every day in my professional career. It meant so much to me to win, as it made me realise what I was capable of and pushed me to follow my passion and believe in myself.鈥

Life after college

After college, Anna went on to study at , and now works as a across the UK and internationally.听

She said: 鈥淚鈥檝e worked in a range of different areas of the industry, including: fashion, editorial, TV, music, beauty and commercial. I鈥檝e worked for some major brands and companies, and had my work published on the cover of multiple magazines.

鈥淚 love my job and still have the same passion and excitement for the industry that I did when I first started at Guildford College. I鈥檓 very lucky to do what I love for work, as it never really feels like work.鈥

Proudest achievement

鈥淥ne of the things I鈥檓 proudest of is achieving a first-class degree at university.鈥 Anna said.

鈥淭his was a huge achievement for me. I worked so hard, and it really paid off. I believe if you're doing something you love and you put in the work, you will succeed.

鈥淚n my career so far, I am very lucky to have had lots of highlights, as I do such a variety of different things. Some of my stand-out moments have to be seeing my work published on the covers of well-known magazines, as this is something I always aspired to do.鈥

See Anna鈥檚 work and magazine features

 

Advice to leavers

Anna had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers: 鈥淥ne of the most valuable things I鈥檝e learnt in my career so far is to believe in yourself and that anything is possible.

鈥淚t鈥檚 easy to be self-critical, but you are your own worst enemy. Trust your gut and remember, someone has to do it and that person could be you.

鈥淚t takes dedication and consistency, but passion shows, and if you are doing something you genuinely enjoy, it never feels like work.鈥

Callum Welch Photographer

Life at Bracknell and Wokingham College

Callum Welch studied Level 3 Photography at Bracknell and Wokingham College from 2019 to 2021. He is now in his final听year studying Photography at Nottingham Trent University.

鈥淚 have a real passion for photography, so when I found this course in Bracknell, I thought it would be great,鈥 Callum said.

鈥淚 really enjoyed the course, and I had great tutors, Nick, Louise and Sue, who made me feel really supported if I ever struggled.

鈥淚鈥檓 also not particularly academic, and while I did ok in school, college was the first time where I really enjoyed what I was learning and looked forward to coming in every day.

鈥淒oing something a bit more practical and putting my time and energy into one subject that I am passionate about听really suited me.鈥

 

College highlights

One of Callum鈥檚 most memorable moments from his time at college was when he was involved in a Remembrance Day photoshoot in Trafalgar Square.

The photos he took at the event were later published in the local paper, Wokingham Today.

He said: 鈥淚t was really rewarding听seeing my work publicly printed and credited for the first time. It was a nice feeling and motivated me to keep doing what I am doing.鈥

Callum also reflected on how his time at college influenced his career choice and what he has achieved so far.

He said: 鈥淭he course helped put me on the right path to get into university and ultimately the path to start working in the photography industry.

鈥淐oming to college helped me find my passion for photography and really inspired me to pursue it as a career.鈥

 

Life after college

Callum is currently in his third year at university, studying Photography. He has just returned from a six-month study exchange programme in Melbourne, Australia, where he also completed an internship at Magnet Galleries.

Callum said: 鈥淚t was an amazing experience. Getting to live abroad but also get valuable industry experience was really rewarding.

鈥淚 worked under a guy called Michael Silva, who was a big photographer in England in the 60s and 70s, so it was great to pick his brains, ask him lots of questions and find out what it takes to make it in quite a competitive industry.

鈥淭he internship also taught me what goes on behind the scenes of exhibitions and allowed me to work with a lot of equipment that I鈥檇 never worked with before.

鈥淚t was also a great opportunity to network and meet other creative people in the industry.鈥

 

Plans for the future

Callum has big plans for the future. He hopes to make a name for himself in the world of fashion photography and has already begun working with a few local brands at fashion shows and events during his time in Melbourne.

鈥淚鈥檝e been trying to network and make connections within the fashion industry,鈥 Callum said.

鈥淚鈥檝e done some behind the scenes videos for Instagram and TikTok, fashion shoots on location and things like that, that have been used by the brands.

鈥淚t鈥檚 nice to see your work being reposted or shared online, especially when it's credited, because it creates traction and noise around your work, which can ultimately come back to you and create opportunities.鈥

鈥淎s well as working in the fashion industry, my goal is to be able to obtain a level of freedom over how and where I work. Though I feel like I鈥檒l have made it just by being able to do what I love for a living.鈥

 

Advice to college leavers

Callum had some words of advice to share with photography students that will leave college soon.

He said: 鈥淎lways think听about your future and where you want to go with your career. Keep looking for opportunities and network to open more doors for yourself.

鈥淛ust keep听being proactive and make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen.鈥

Chloe Swain Architectural Technician at Bloor Homes

Life at Guildford College

Chloe Swain completed her HNC Construction and the Built Environment at Guildford College in 2023. She now works as an architectural technician at

鈥淚 was in the first cohort of learners after COVID-19, so it was an uncertain time for us, but I did enjoy the course,鈥 Chloe said.

鈥淚 made quite a few friends that I'm still in contact with now and we all help each other out because we're all in the same industry. Overall, it was a good course, and it has helped me grow within my business and get to where I am now.鈥

鈥淏ecause it was a higher education course, there was a really interesting mix of people with different backgrounds and experiences, and we learnt a lot from each other,鈥 Chloe added.

鈥淚 loved being able to share my knowledge with course mates that were in earlier stages of their careers and learning from those more experienced than me.鈥

 

Proudest achievement

Chloe was most proud of achieving a distinction in two modules of her HNC.

鈥淚 was so pleased that I managed to get a distinction in both the planning law and construction law modules, as this was an area that I found quite challenging听initially,鈥 Chloe said.

鈥淚 use what I learnt from those modules all the time in my current role, so it鈥檚 really helped me get to where I am now and is a great thing to show to future employers as well.鈥

 

Life after college

鈥淎s an architectural technician, I'm basically a mixture of a project manager and an architectural technologist,鈥 Chloe said.

鈥淎n architectural technician oversees the project from planning all the way to completion.

鈥淪o, I'll get involved with what goes on the site, how many bedrooms, which materials we use, even going on site and helping engineers with foundations as well.

鈥淚 also get involved with sales and hand over private plots to occupiers and shared or rented plots to housing associations.

鈥淓very day is different, and it鈥檚 great because you get such an interesting range of experience, which is really valuable if you ever decide to try out a different area of the industry.鈥

 

What inspires you?

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Chloe said that trying to make the working environment more welcoming to women is one of the things that inspires her to do what she does.

鈥淚n my team of 12 people, two of us are women, and this is a trend that you can see across the other teams in my organisation, and in the construction industry as a whole,鈥 Chloe said.

鈥淚鈥檝e spoken to many of my female colleagues about this and we鈥檝e all found it quite hard at times, being a woman in this industry, as when people think of construction, they imagine a group of men on site.

鈥淭here is still a stigma, but we鈥檙e really trying to push for more women in construction jobs and to be on site as well, not just in the office. It鈥檚 important to show young women that they can be a bricklayer,听a labourer, an electrician, they can be anything they want to be.

鈥淲e have noticed that having a more diverse team is making us more approachable and relatable to our customers and has created a better work environment for us. Having different perspectives makes our team work better,鈥 Chloe added.

 

Advice for college leavers

Chloe had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers on kickstarting their careers.

鈥淢y advice would be to create a CV to outline your skills and qualifications and show that you are enthusiastic, passionate and willing to learn.

鈥淏elieve that you can achieve anything and don鈥檛 doubt yourself. You never know what kind of opportunities might come up and who is looking for someone, so keep an open mind and make the most of opportunities that come your way.鈥

Claire Brown Cat Welfare Manager at UK charity Cats Protection

Life at Merrist Wood College

Claire Brown completed her BTEC and National Diploma in Animal Care at Merrist Wood College in 2003.

Claire then went on to study Animal Management and Welfare at the University of Lincoln, and now works as a Cat Welfare Manager at UK charity Cats Protection.

鈥淚 loved college. Getting to mix practical skills, as well as academic skills, really helped develop my passion for animal welfare,鈥 she said.

鈥淚 made so many friends, who I am still in touch with today, and had some of my best years there.鈥

College highlights

Claire shared her favourite memories from her time as a student at Merrist Wood College.

鈥淚 loved getting to work in the farm, carrying out daily husbandry activities and being involved in breeding programmes,鈥 she said.

鈥淢y biggest highlight was when our goat had kids and we got to weigh them daily and be involved in their care.鈥

Life after college

Since leaving college, Claire has climbed her way up the career ladder, and is now a manager at her company, covering South England and Wales.

鈥淚 am one of two Cat Welfare Managers leading a team of ten Cat Welfare Advisors across the country, supporting our network of volunteer fosterers and cat welfare volunteers,鈥 Claire said.

鈥淢y role is to lead the assessment of local practice against policy, to support improvement and share best practice.

鈥淚 line manage five Cat Welfare Advisors providing cat welfare advice and support to volunteer branches, particularly volunteer fosterers, and undertaking welfare support visits to fosterers and external sites used by Cats Protection.鈥

Claire is also an assessor for the ADCH, the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes, using her skills and knowledge to support other charities to become members of the organisation.

Following your passion

Claire has always been an animal enthusiast. She shared some insight on how she followed her dream and got to where she is today.

鈥淚鈥檝e loved animals for as long as I can remember and have always wanted to be able to make a difference in some way,鈥 she said.

鈥淚 suffer with essential tremor, which affects my hand mobility massively. I always wanted to be a vet, but I knew it would be hard with shaky hands. I started looking into other roles with animals, and came across a role at Cats Protection, which I joined in 2008.

鈥淟ater on, I applied for my current role, as being able to improve and maintain the welfare of cats is a real passion of mine and I knew the role would be perfect. I also love working with and meeting the wonderful volunteers we get to support daily.鈥

Advice for college students

Claire has some words of wisdom to share with college leavers looking to follow a similar path.

鈥淒on鈥檛 be afraid to work hard and get as much experience as you can in the field you are interested in.

鈥淲ork your way up, take in all the advice and continue to learn as animal welfare changes so fast.鈥

Elin Weresch Children's book illustrator

Life at City of Oxford College

Elin Weresch studied at City of Oxford College from 2016 to 2018. She has since become a published illustrator for a series of children鈥檚 books, .

鈥淚 loved my experience at college and really miss it. There was so much variety in my course. One week we could be doing metal work, and then we could go onto ceramic or print, and we had access to so many resources,鈥 Elin said.

鈥淚鈥檝e always been quite multidisciplinary, so having all of this at my fingertips really helped me figure out my skillset.

鈥淭he people also made it what it was. I鈥檓 still in contact with many of my friends from college today. I love that I鈥檝e built lifelong relationships from my time there.鈥

Life since college

After college, Elin took a gap year to get some work experience before applying to university. She worked in one of the local pubs and was promoted to pub manager before going to Birmingham School of Art to study Art and Design.

The pandemic had a big effect on Elin鈥檚 experience at university, but it also allowed her to discover her love for illustration.

鈥淐ovid hit when I went into my second year. We were isolating and all of the teaching was online, so I taught myself a lot at home, and this is where my illustration style grew. I was thinking back to my favourite childhood stories and started doing illustrations based on that,鈥 she said.

鈥淚 then made the decision to drop out, which is a shame as I most likely would have been able to finish my degree if the pandemic hadn鈥檛 happened, but it wasn't sustainable for me to stay on, so it was the right decision for me.

鈥淚 then went back to my work in the pub, where they greeted me with open arms. I came across my illustration job through one of the regulars at the pub, who had just won a children鈥檚 book competition and needed an illustrator, so I kind of fell into it.鈥

Next steps

鈥淭he Willy and Wally books will be a series, and I鈥檝e signed on to illustrate all of them in the series which is really exciting,鈥 Elin shared.

鈥淲hile I don鈥檛 want to be a pub manager for the rest of my life, I do really love it, and it鈥檚 allowed me to make a lot of connections with my art. The customers all know me and really appreciate that I鈥檓 an artist, which has allowed me to do some freelance work, doing illustrations for people.

鈥淚鈥檓 still figuring out where I want to go with my career, but I don鈥檛 think I need to decide right now what I want to do. I don鈥檛 want to put all my eggs in one basket.

鈥淭here鈥檚 so much I enjoy doing. I knit, I crochet, I paint, I make jewellery, I illustrate, I sculpt, I鈥檝e even tried tattooing and have considered a business in that. But I love doing freelance work as it lets me take charge of what I do,鈥 she added.

Advice for Art and Design students finishing college

After her experience with university, and entering the world of freelance, Elin has some words of advice to share with those seeking a career in the creative industries.

鈥淯niversity is great, but you don鈥檛 always need a degree to get where you want in life. My experience taught me that university isn鈥檛 the only option,鈥 she said.

鈥淎s long as you keep doing what you enjoy, keep learning, keep reading, and keep creating, you鈥檙e on the right track.

鈥淚 also would advise people to not get too stressed about their career straight away. College is a really great way to start off on the outside world, but you can always go back and keep studying.

鈥淵ou鈥檙e never too old to learn. Whether you do that by yourself, or whether you go back to do another course at college, or go to university later in life, there are endless possibilities, even after you鈥檝e left college.鈥

Emily Prachar Training solicitor working in clinical negligence

Life at City of Oxford College

Emily Prachar studied A Levels in Sociology, Psychology and Law at City of Oxford College. She has since graduated from the with a Law degree and is now a training solicitor working in clinical negligence.

鈥淚 transferred over from my secondary school where I had started my A Levels but wasn鈥檛 really enjoying it. I鈥檓 so glad I came to college, as I had a really positive experience there,鈥 Emily said.

鈥淥ne thing that made my time at college so great was my brilliant law teacher, Saima Hussain. She really helped me throughout my course, and we鈥檙e still in touch today. I dedicated my university dissertation to her for all her incredible support and for sparking my interest in law!

The support Emily received at college helped her secure a place at university, and a scholarship for her A Level grade in Law.

鈥淢y teachers supported me a lot with my university application. There was also a time during university when I went back to them for help and they were happy to support me, even after I'd left,鈥 she added.

Most memorable moment

Emily鈥檚 most memorable college experience was when she got the opportunity to witness a real case and gain valuable industry experience with other students from her A Level Law class.

鈥淎t college, my class had the chance to go to Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, in London to see a court case about an MP that was murdered,鈥 she said.

鈥淚t was a fascinating experience. It was our first glimpse of a real-life court case and what our future careers could be. It solidified my interest in pursuing a career in the legal profession.鈥澨

Life since college

Since completing her Law degree at the University of Southampton, Emily has been doing her LPC, Legal Practice Course, to become a Solicitor.

鈥淚 started working at Freeths almost two years ago now. I started on the Legal Assistant Programme. The idea is that you have regular reviews and after nine months, there is an opportunity to secure a training contract to become a solicitor,鈥 Emily said.

鈥淚 joined as a legal assistant and then I was offered a training contract which I started in September. We do four seats in total and I鈥檓 on my first seat, so I will hopefully qualify a year in September.

"I started working in the Trusts, Estates and Tax team and now I'm working in our Clinical Negligence team. So, I鈥檓 getting a broad range of experience which I鈥檓 really enjoying.

鈥淭he support I have had at Freeths has been really great, particularly around my studies. I started during Covid which was such a turbulent time for most, but I settled into working life seamlessly. It has been amazing to see all the things I learnt at College and University in working practice.

鈥淭here are plenty of school leaver and graduate opportunities at , which I would really recommend looking into if you鈥檙e wanting to start a career in Law.鈥

Proudest achievement to date

鈥淚'm coming to the end of my LPC now, so I think doing the LPC alongside full-time work is my biggest achievement,鈥 shared Emily.

鈥淚t鈥檚 quite a difficult course, and to do that alongside working quite a demanding job, is something I鈥檓 really proud of. I've got my last exam in March and then I'll graduate.

鈥淔or most law students, the training contract is the end goal after studying. So, feeling like I've made it there is quite nice.鈥

Advice for someone leaving college

Emily has a few words of wisdom to share with students who are leaving college soon and embarking on their next steps.

鈥淐herish your time, whether that be with education, your career, or spending time with friends and family,鈥 she said.

鈥淭ime goes by so quickly that it鈥檚 important to enjoy where you are now as it can be easy to get absorbed in what鈥檚 next and forget to cherish the experiences and opportunities that you have today.鈥

George Cook CEO of Computers 4 Charity

Life at Guildford College

George Cook completed his Business Studies HND at Guildford College in 1977. He has had a highly successful career in business and the charity sector since leaving college.

George said: 鈥淚 really enjoyed my time at college. It was years later that I began to reflect and realised how much I learnt and how much it influenced where I am today.鈥

鈥淪ome of my favourite memories include learning how to program in听COBOL, a computer programming language designed for business use, on a main frame that filled a large room, using punched cards and paper tape with hard drives the size of a washing machine.鈥

 

Life after college

After taking a gap year to work on a ranch听in Colorado, George began working as a salesman, eventually being headhunted by and becoming a commodity trader in the City of London.

George was able to retire early and decided to devote himself to charity work. He founded multiple charitable organisations such as , and UK.

George has also dedicated much his time to inventing and has 17 inventions to date.

One of his most notable inventions is which enables air delivery of humanitarian aid and logistics support to areas without transport infrastructure at low cost, using commonly available air transport.

He is now Chief Executive of , an organisation that rebuilds and upgrades used computers to help people in need, such as young carers, homeless youth, unemployed veterans, bereaved forces children and local schools.

 

Proudest achievements

鈥淭here are many things in my career that I鈥檓 pleased about鈥 George said.

鈥淚 am still surprised how I become a commodity trader in the city, and looking back I鈥檓 glad that I chose to change my career path and do something more meaningful by doing charity work.

鈥淚 have also had the privilege to work with His Majesty King Charles III as part of his Business Emergency Recovery Group (BERG) in Business in the Community (BITC). I like him as a person, I feel that he is genuine.鈥

鈥淎nother moment for which I am grateful was when His Majesty commended me and the Cook Foundation UK at the Business in the Community Responsible Business Awards on 8 July 2014 at The Royal Albert Hall in front of several thousand of the UK鈥檚 top business leaders.

鈥淏est of all, when he invited me to tea with just him and his secretary on my birthday at St James鈥 Palace one year. A great guy.鈥

 

Advice for college leavers

After years of experience in the industry, George had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers.

鈥淩emember to be open minded. If something isn't working, don't let it get you down,鈥 he said.

鈥淵ou can always change your path. Keep trying and something will come along and just click, like it has for me after several false starts.鈥

Haidur Asif Project Support Officer

Life at Reading College

Haidur Asif studied A Level Psychology, Sociology, and English Literature and Language at from 2014 to 2016. He then went on to study at university, and later returned to 每日探花 to work as an Access to HE: Sociology tutor.

Haidur said: 鈥淎t college, I learned a lot of the skills I needed for university. What I learnt in my A Levels prepared me for my undergrad and my master's degree.

鈥淚 also did my English Literature and Language A Level in one year, as I switched subjects after my first year, and wanted to complete all my A Levels at the same time so I could go to university.

鈥淚 got so much great support from all my teachers that I was able to pass in a year, and I鈥檓 really grateful for the support and that the college gave me this option.鈥

 

College highlights

Haidur shared some of his favourite moments from his time at college.

He said: 鈥淚n college, you鈥檙e responsible for managing your own time and you鈥檙e treated much more like an adult. This helped me form really positive relationships with my peers, because we had a bit more independence.

鈥淎 particular memory I have is when we were revising for our A Levels, as the college was always open until around 10pm, and we had our own revision club, so we would be on site later than the teachers were.

鈥淲e made up these revision games to do together, so that revising was fresh and exciting instead of stressful.鈥

 

Life after college

After college, Haidur studied BSc Business Psychology at the , and then went on to do a Master's in International Relations and Diplomacy at the .

He then returned to 每日探花 to work as an online Access to HE: Sociology tutor, while also doing an internship at .

鈥淩eturning to work at 每日探花 was really interesting. It took some getting used to at first, being a member of staff instead of a student, but I got loads of support from the faculty and my line manager.

鈥淚t was a rewarding job, particularly towards the end when you see how your teaching has impacted the students, especially when they come to you and say how much you鈥檝e helped them.

鈥淚 had one experience where a student said to me that they hope they make as much of an impact in someone else鈥檚 life as a paramedic as I have made an impact in their life by helping them get to university.

鈥淲orking at 每日探花 has prepared me for my future, as it allowed me to try lots of different things and gain a broad range of transferable skills, such as leading on projects or stakeholder management. It was a safe space to try new things.鈥

 

Plans for the future

Haidur is now taking his next step into a new career as a project delivery fast streamer in the Civil Service.

鈥淚n my new role, I鈥檒l be working in different government departments. It鈥檚 a four-year programme, so in my first year I'll be working for ,鈥 he said.

鈥淢y role will be about getting people with disabilities into work, making sure they're supported and ultimately trying to reduce the disability employment gap.

鈥淚鈥檓 really looking forward to it, and I think my studies and my role as an Access to HE tutor has prepared me for this sort of environment and responsibilities.鈥

 

Advice to college leavers

Haidur had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers about taking their next steps after college.

鈥淚 think the biggest thing I say is to just try out different things to get experience. Whether you go to university, do an apprenticeship, or get a job, try and do extra things because it will really help you in the future.

鈥淭he main thing I've noticed with graduate employers is they want to know what you've done on top of your studies, so try and take as many opportunities as you can. If it's volunteering, if it's doing a little bit of extra work, if it鈥檚 doing a course on the side, it goes a long way.鈥

Harley Leyland Art Technician and Freelance Artist

Life at Bracknell and Wokingham College

Harley Leyland embarked on a unique educational journey at , where she completed her Creative Practice: Art, Design and Communication UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in July 2023.

After facing health problems and being in hospital after completing her GCSEs, she was unable to complete her A Levels. She was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at this time.

When Harley was well enough to return to education, she decided she wanted to focus on art. Her decision to study at college was influenced by the art facilities and the support options available to her.

Harley said: 鈥淚鈥檝e always wanted to study art since I was a child. I鈥檝e always been creative and liked drawing. As I got older, I got more into painting, and when I got out of hospital I wanted to try and learn art again.

鈥淚 loved how big the art room was at the college and how they had easels. I'd never actually used or seen an easel in person before.

鈥淭his college was the best place for me as I could get extra support after my ASD diagnosis. Coming here was a good decision as it worked well for my needs."

 

Challenges and Growth

Studying art posed unique challenges for Harley, primarily rooted in perfectionism and the struggle to share some of her art pieces.

Harley said: 鈥淚 can be quite particular about what I like about art and I'm very much a perfectionist. So, at the beginning, I would destroy a lot of work that I produced.

"I was challenged by my teachers to not destroy my work and to include it all in my books. They helped me see a different perspective and encouraged me to still write about the pieces I didn鈥檛 like and explain why I didn鈥檛 like it.

鈥淚 liked that they helped me understand why we need to do certain things and the structure we had in place, but that I was allowed to say when I didn鈥檛 like something I鈥檇 produced and why.

鈥淚 felt very comfortable coming into college and like I was able to express how I felt. The teachers were very nice and understanding about everything.鈥

 

Returning to College

After completing her studies, Harley returned to the college and secured a part-time job as an art technician.

She said: 鈥淭he college is a safe environment for me with my ASD, and this is the type of work that is really suited to me.

鈥淚 like organisation and I like structure. My job is to help with lesson preparation, managing the stock and making sure the students have the equipment they need, which might not sound fun to some but it鈥檚 what I love doing.

鈥淚t鈥檚 also part-time, which means I can go at my own pace, and also have time to do commissions and exhibition pieces outside of work, so it allows me a lot of freedom. I鈥檓 really thankful they offered me the job.鈥

 

Commissions

Harley's journey also includes venturing into art commissions, particularly focused on oil painting.

She explained the process: 鈥淚 started doing commissions in June and I鈥檓 currently in the process of building up my portfolio.

鈥淭hey鈥檙e mostly animal based at the minute. So, people will show me pictures of their pet and we鈥檒l have a consultation to choose what image would come out best as a painting, and then I'd turn that image into an oil painting of their chosen size.

鈥淚 find it interesting. Observing how people look at an image of their pet, and what really sticks out to them is their main characteristic, and then showing that through the painting.

鈥淚 also like being able to make people happy through my paintings of their pets. When I was growing up, I used to draw my dog and it always like made me happy. So, I like that I can do that for other people.鈥

 

Plans for the future

Harley's journey in art and education is ongoing, with a focus on maintaining a balance between personal art, commissions, and her role as an art technician.

Harley said: "Working here and doing my commissions is making me happy and I want to see where it goes."

鈥淧ainting is what I want to do in life, so I definitely want to continue doing what I do.鈥

James Scott Garden Designer

Life at Merrist Wood

鈥淲ithout college, I don't think I could have done what I do now. We had some great teachers that I admired. They all took a lot of pride in what they did, and I looked up to them.鈥

James Scott studied Landscape Construction at Merrist Wood College from 1986 to 1989. Since then, he鈥檚 gone on to establish his own highly successful garden design-and-build business in Hertfordshire, winning multiple national awards.

One of James鈥 most memorable moments at Merrist Wood was the college鈥檚 involvement with the Chelsea Flower Show each year.

鈥淒uring our year, there was an internal competition running, where we had to design a garden for the London Association of the Blind, which would then be built for the Chelsea Flower Show,鈥 said James.

鈥淚 was fortunate enough that my design got chosen to be to be built. I spent a lot of time designing it, hoping it would get chosen and was thrilled when it was. I probably got offered my first job on the back of having that experience.鈥

Industry knowledge

James鈥 course at college required pre-college work experience, and an industrial placement year in-between the two years at college. James spent his placement year working in the USA.

James said: 鈥淲orking for different companies before and during my time at college gave me a good foundation to build a career on. It allowed me to learn a few different ways of doing things, which was very valuable when I later set up my own business.

鈥淭he college鈥檚 links to industry were also really important, especially its connection with BALI, the British Association of Landscape Industries. When I left college, I joined BALI as soon as possible and have benefited from my membership ever since.

鈥淐ollege is not just about studying. You need to make the most of your industrial experience too, and continuing professional development once you have started work,鈥 James said.听听

 

Life since college

When James finished his studies at Merrist Wood, he worked as a designer/manager for Capital Garden Landscapes in North London.

After a couple of years, James decided he wanted to take a more independent route and set up his own business, , in 1991 with his business partner.

James said: 鈥淲e set up a business in designing, landscaping and gardening. We slowly grew that business from one employee to a few employees and we now employ about 20 people.

鈥淎longside our own talented team, we also draw on a strong network of professionals with specialist skills. We are a design-led business and alongside my BALI membership I am a fully Registered Member of the SGD (Society of Garden Designers).

鈥淲e support our clients every step of the way through their transformation projects. Most of our work is for residential sites and we also work on commercial spaces, including business parks, corporate Head Offices, wedding venues and independent schools.

鈥淲e are honoured to have worked with the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew and at the historic Temple Garden in London鈥檚 legal district.鈥

Proudest achievement to date

鈥淚'm really proud of The Garden Company鈥檚 track record in winning many national awards over the years,鈥 James said.

鈥淲e were delighted to win a BALI Award in 2022 for Best Design and Build project, and around the same time I was voted as one of the 25 Most Influential people in the landscape industry.

鈥淚'm also proud that my business contributes to people's livelihood, providing employment and being a good place to work.

鈥淲inning awards is great, but it's quite fleeting. It鈥檚 having a business that operates at the highest possible quality standards that matters most,鈥 James added.

Advice for building a successful career in the landscape industry

The years of experience after studying at Merrist Wood have given James a broad knowledge of the industry. He had some words of wisdom to share with students that will finish college soon:

鈥淵ou need to join the best company you can, get stuck in and make the most of the opportunities around you. It鈥檚 worth working at more than one reputable business in your early career.

鈥淕et to know other people in your profession. Immerse yourself in the industry and build a network. Go to trade events, RHS shows and join relevant professional societies.

鈥淔inally, visit gardens!鈥 When I鈥檓 interviewing job candidates, so many people talk about being inspired by garden design or landscaping, then can鈥檛 name a garden they have visited recently.

鈥淚t鈥檚 really important to be able to demonstrate your genuine interest and passion for the industry, not only to prospective employers like me but to clients and business contacts too.鈥

Jeremy Taylor Managing Director at The Company Connector

Life at Guildford College

Jeremy Taylor completed his Business Studies HND at Guildford College in 1982, and now works as a Managing Director at .

鈥淢y time at Guildford College was very enjoyable,鈥 Jeremy said.

鈥淎s one of the few international students, as I'm from Jersey, I was placed in student accommodation at Malabar House on the Epsom Road.

鈥淚t was great meeting others from all over the world in that house, and I鈥檓 still in touch with some of them now.

鈥淟iving in and experiencing Guildford was one of my highlights, and socialising in and outside college with my college friends.鈥

 

Life after college

After college, Jeremy spent some time working in hospitality and retail management, then worked for 听before setting up his own business.

鈥淚n the 90s I set up a marketing and business consultancy which focused on helping businesses use the very new World Wide Web, called Consider If,鈥 Jeremy said.

鈥淚n 2004 I went back to Gatwick Diamond Business and drove it for 14 years to become the leading voice for business in the region.

鈥淚 now work at The Company Connector as a Managing Director, where I have听two main responsibilities.

鈥淔irstly, stakeholder engagement for planning and development, with Gatwick Airport as my main client. Secondly, business consultancy for clients and on behalf of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership鈥

 

Proudest achievements

鈥淚 had no real plan, but I managed to make the most of opportunities that came my way and I鈥檓 very proud of how far I鈥檝e come,鈥 Jeremy said.

鈥淢y top three moments in my career so far are听meeting Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, creating the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards from scratch, and supporting economic growth and development to help businesses create jobs鈥

 

Advice for college leavers

Jeremy had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers embarking on their next steps.

鈥淢y advice would be, first and foremost, to gain experience. Say yes to new opportunities and make the most out of them,鈥 Jeremy said.

鈥淚t鈥檚 also important to be interested and听interesting, listen to and support others, and be prepared to take responsibility. If you can, fix things that may not be down to you, as this will set a good example.鈥

John Bowman Head of Blog and Education at PokerStars

Life at Farnham College

John Bowman studied Business at Farnham College in 1995-1997. He now works as Head of Blog and Education at PokerStars.

John said: 鈥淚t was an absolutely remarkable experience. The tutors were excellent and genuinely cared about you and your future, and the social times were equally impressive.鈥

鈥淲hilst you鈥檙e learning your chosen subject you also learn micro skills such as working in a team and learning to work with different people you usually wouldn鈥檛, which is invaluable for life after education.

鈥淎t college I was also lucky enough to get my work experience at , one of the biggest Tech Companies of its time.鈥

Life after college

John has been in his current company for 18 years. He moved through various roles, gaining experience in Marketing and Events, setting up departments, and is now Head of Blog and Education.

鈥淚鈥檝e been lucky enough to travel the world through this company and meet some of the most talented people in the industry from Business, Marketing, TV, Events, SEO, Social Media, Ambassadors, Celebrities and more,鈥 John said.

What inspired you to pursue your current career

"What drew me to this career path was the idea of mixing business with strategy. I joined PokerStars when the industry was brand new, so have seen it grow from a start-up to a billion-pound industry,鈥 John said.

鈥淚t鈥檚 amazing to see a successful start-up grow, and very rewarding to have been a part of its growth. Start-ups can be risky to work in, but you also develop your skills much faster as you get to experience so much more.鈥

Proudest achievement

John shared some of his proudest achievements and memorable moments since attending Farnham College.

John said: 鈥淭he confidence I gained from college took me on many adventures. I created a small ecommerce and affiliate business when I left which allowed me to pursue some other passions.

鈥淚 was a Radio DJ for Glastonbury, I played Poker on TV in Las Vegas, beating a Harvard Graduate heads up for 1st place, Farnham College 1 鈥 Harvard 0.鈥

鈥淚 then moved from my small hometown to city life in London and grew my career further. I am immensely proud of how far I鈥檝e come.鈥

Advice for college leavers

鈥淓ven if you鈥檝e not fully chosen your career path, don鈥檛 be afraid to explore new things, try to network and choose friends with similar goals and interests,鈥 John said.

鈥淜nowing people with the same career goals really helps, as you can bounce ideas off each other and may even end up in the same company or sector.

鈥淟earn from each position in your career, understand what works well, what could be improved and what doesn鈥檛 work, because one day you may be in charge of those decisions.

鈥淭hroughout my career I鈥檝e found that people love problem solvers and there鈥檚 not one thing that cannot improved. If you鈥檙e the go to person to solve those issues, you鈥檒l be the first person they will think of when a new higher role becomes available.鈥

Kallum-Andrew Smeesters-Kirkwood MA Fine Art student and Art Technician

Life at Reading College

Kallum-Andrew Smeesters-Kirkwood studied Graphic Design Level 3 and then a foundation year at from 2015 to 2018.

He is now studying an MA in Fine Art at and working part-time as an art technician at a school, while working on his own projects and publishing them to

Kallum said: 鈥淪tudying at Reading College was a great experience. It took me from being quite designer-minded to thinking like an artist, which is what I am now, and has helped put me on this career path.

鈥淚 went to college because I wanted to get out of the school mindset and to try and get some real-world experience.鈥

鈥淥ne of my favourite things about college was having access to the workshops and having all the amazing equipment at my fingertips.鈥

 

Life after college

After college, Kallum took a gap year before going to university. He worked in retail full-time to gain some work experience, while building up his portfolio in preparation for university and a career as an artist.

He then went on to study a BA in Fine Art at Reading University and has now progressed on to his Master's course.

鈥淚 specialise in the practise of photography and filmmaking, in a style that鈥檚 between the boundaries of surrealism and post modernism,鈥 he said.

鈥淚 was also the first in my family to go to university, which I鈥檓 quite proud of, because it's a big achievement for me.

鈥淚've definitely matured after going to college and university. I've gone from being a bit of a class clown to now, feeling like an adult.

鈥淓specially now, working in a school as a technician and taking a role of authority, makes me realise how much I鈥檝e grown up, and I think college had a big influence on that.鈥

 

Motivation and Inspiration

One of the people who inspired Kallum was his tutor at Reading College, Mike Workman.

鈥淢ike鈥檚 straightforward approach to my academic studies and photography really showed me how to be a photographer going forward and he taught me what I'd need to do to make it in the industry,鈥 Kallum said.

Kallum shared how certain achievements at college motivated him to keep going and pursue a career in art and photography.

He said: 鈥淚'm really proud of getting a while studying at Reading College.

鈥淭he award is equivalent to an extra GCSE that's funded by the . It鈥檚 a funded process that gives participants an additional qualification within the arts.

鈥淭o do it, I had to work alongside a tutor from the college with a group of five to 10 people, and we exhibited at the , creating our own exhibition space and having an actual external exhibition. I got to work as the junior curator which was quite an honour鈥

 

Advice to college leavers

Kallum had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers who are about the take their next steps in the creative industry.

He said: 鈥淚f you feel you鈥檙e ready, jump straight into it. If you鈥檙e like me and you felt a bit overwhelmed and unsure what you wanted to do after college, don鈥檛 be afraid to take a year out, practise and keep learning more in that break away because you can always come back to it.鈥

Lauren Davis Schools Partnership Executive

Life at Farnham College

Lauren studied her Childcare and Education Level 3 Diploma at Farnham College from 2012 to 2015. She has now returned to 每日探花 to work as a Schools Partnership Executive.

Lauren always dreamed of working as a teacher and decided to study this course to pursue her career ambitions.

She said: 鈥淚 chose to study a Childcare and Education course to help me embark on my future career goal of being a Primary School Teacher for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.鈥

College Highlights

Lauren shared some of her favourite things about studying at Farnham College and how it helped her personal and professional development.

She said: 鈥淚 really valued and enjoyed my experience whilst studying at the college because of its warm community and smaller learning environment.

鈥淭his made me feel happier at college and helped me become more confident. I loved how I could tailor the college life and learning environment to how I learn best, which helped me achieve my own personal goals.

鈥淚 enjoyed the experience of having many opportunities by attending lots of extra-curricular activities outside of class.

鈥淭his gave me the chance to express myself to ensure I was achieving my true potential,鈥 Lauren added.

Life after college

After college, Lauren attended the University of Chichester and qualified as a Primary School Teacher with SEND students and worked as a teacher in various schools before returning to 每日探花 to work as a Schools Partnership Executive.

鈥淲orking as a SEND teacher in Primary Schools allowed me to explore different career pathways within education and led me to join Reading College within 每日探花 as a Schools Partnership Executive, where I have been in post for over a year now.

鈥淚 thoroughly enjoy my new role and feel very fortunate to help young people make their own choices about their options or goals when they leave secondary school.

鈥淭his has become a very rewarding role where I feel my courses I have studied, in particular at Farnham College can help me transfer my skills and knowledge to Further Education.鈥

 

Proudest achievement

Lauren shared her proudest achievement since leaving college:

"My proudest achievement so far is achieving my Level 5 qualification in Supporting Students with Learning Difficulties and SEND.

"Having this qualification helps me feel more confident in my current role and when supporting any student in their own personal journey."

 

Advice to college students

Lauren had some words of wisdom to share with college students that are about to embark on their next steps in their career.

She said: "My advice to current students would be to make the most of every opportunity within college and to ensure that they are proud of what they have achieved so far, as this can help them gain more confidence in their own decisions moving forward in their lives."

Rebekkah O鈥橬eill Owner - The Orchard Hair Salon

Life at Banbury and Bicester College

Rebekkah O鈥橬eill studied at Banbury and Bicester College from 2014 to 2016. She has since made her way up the ladder in the beauty industry by setting up her own salon and

鈥淢y first year at college was probably one of the best years of my life. I didn鈥檛 really enjoy school, so it was really refreshing when I got to college and had a lot more freedom and was treated like an adult,鈥 she said.

鈥淭he teachers were lovely, and I found myself really looking forward to going into college every day. I knew that I was going there to learn something that I was really passionate about.鈥

Favourite memory

One of Rebekkah鈥檚 most memorable moments from college was her time spent with teacher, Sam Smith, and the skills she learnt through one-to-one teaching.

鈥淚f it weren鈥檛 for her, I would not have the knowledge I have today. She always went out of her way to make sure we understood things and help us practice,鈥 Rebekkah said.

鈥淗er help throughout college is what really stuck with me. For example, she taught me how to razor cut hair, and now I get people who specifically come to me because I razor cut. I learnt all of that from Sam, and now that鈥檚 one of my specialities.鈥

Life since college

After working in a salon for a couple of years after college, and then in a home salon, Rebekkah found a space to set up her own business, in Banbury.

鈥淚鈥檝e been there for four years now, but in 2022 I finished my training to be an educator, so now I teach beauty and hairdressing courses as well,鈥 Rebekkah said.

鈥淚 also manage a hair and beauty blog which has been quite successful. I鈥檝e been featured on sites like Buzzfeed, Bustle, and SheFinds.鈥

While Rebekkah has been a hair enthusiast from childhood, she was surprised to discover her love for teaching.

鈥淚 absolutely love it, it鈥檚 very rewarding. The training has opened my eyes in so many ways, for example how everyone has different learning styles,鈥 she said.

鈥淚 think I didn鈥檛 enjoy school because the way we were taught did not suit how I learn best. I now transfer that knowledge to my teaching and try to understand all my students鈥 learning styles so that I know my teaching is beneficial to each student.

鈥淚 can definitely see myself wanting to teach more in the future,鈥 Rebekkah added.

Proudest achievement to date

Rebekkah鈥檚 proudest achievement so far was when her blog post was feature in Buzzfeed last year.

鈥淚 was blown away when it went live, and the amount of traffic that has come to my website from that one feature is just insane,鈥 she said.

鈥淭hat experience made me want to do more, and that鈥檚 how I got to be on Bustle and SheFinds. I鈥檓 a content reviewer for SheFinds now, so it鈥檚 amazing how many doors it鈥檚 opened for me.鈥澨

Advice for life post-college

Rebekkah shared some words of advice for those leaving college soon.

鈥淒on鈥檛 force things. Sometimes things don鈥檛 happen the way you want them to happen, but you have to remember that there will always be other opportunities,鈥 she said.

鈥淚 remember the pressure after college of thinking that I needed to do everything right away, but you don鈥檛 have a time limit. You can take it step by step.

鈥淛ust because something doesn鈥檛 happen now, doesn鈥檛 mean something better won鈥檛 happen in the future.鈥

Sam Skeates Production apprentice at BBC Radio Berkshire

Life at Bracknell and Wokingham College

Sam Skeates studied a Creative Media Level 3 Extended Diploma at Bracknell and Wokingham College and is now doing an apprenticeship at .

鈥淚 really enjoyed college. The course was great and I put a lot of work into it which paid off in the end, as I got a distinction,鈥 Sam said.

鈥淚 also had a brilliant group of mates who I鈥檓 still in touch with today, which is just as important for making college a positive experience.鈥

My fondest memory

Sam shared his favourite memory from his time at college.

鈥淥ne day that I remember well was when we had to film a documentary. I decided to do a sport documentary as I鈥檓 a big Liverpool supporter, so I wanted to film a piece on Liverpool FC,鈥 he said.

鈥淚 contacted the sports department directly to see if one of the footballers wanted to come and be a part of it, and the guy they sent turned out to be an old friend of mine who I鈥檇 lost contact with!

鈥淚t made the documentary a lot more meaningful for me, and听 made the whole experience more special. It was great seeing the end product, after our reunion.鈥

Life since college

Sam discovered the BBC Radio Berkshire apprenticeship opportunity through his tutors at college, who encouraged him to apply.

鈥淚've been a production apprentice at BBC Radio Berkshire since September, so, almost half a year now and I鈥檓 absolutely loving it,鈥 Sam said.

鈥淎s part of my role, I help produce shows and I edit the that airs on Saturdays. I'm also getting into the social media side of it, and doing some video editing and filming, too.

鈥淚'm really trying to do as much as I can to work out where I want to go next. The apprenticeship is helping me see what I find enjoyable and where my strengths are.鈥

Returning to college to inspire current students

Sam recently returned to Bracknell and Wokingham College to speak to current creative media students. Sam鈥檚 former tutor, Paul Boddy, shared his praise.

鈥淲e are extremely proud of Sam's achievements. He was a Distinction-level student at Bracknell and Wokingham College and always put in 100% effort throughout his course,鈥 Paul Boddy, Media Lecturer at 每日探花, said.

鈥淗is visit showed what can be achieved by studying Creative Media here, and gave our current students a valuable insight into the process of applying for and working in an apprenticeship.鈥

Proudest achievements

Sam reflected on his proudest achievements from college and the apprenticeship.

鈥淚 was extremely proud of my final video project that I created at college. It was a music video for the song Let You by Iann Dior, and I think it was my favourite video that I鈥檝e produced,鈥 Sam said.

鈥淚 am also really proud that I secured a place on the apprenticeship with BBC Radio Berkshire, and what I have achieved during the programme so far.

鈥淛ust last week, I was listening back to the Reading FC podcast that I edit, and it hit me that it's on . That鈥檚 something I've created is on there is a big achievement for me.鈥

Advice after leaving college

Sam has some advice to share with students who are leaving college soon.

鈥淵ou鈥檝e just got to go in and be confident! Don鈥檛 be afraid to talk to people and ask questions,鈥 he said.

鈥淏uilding up a network is really important. When you鈥檙e meeting new people, pick up on an area of common interest and go from there. You never know what doors it might open for you.

鈥淚t never hurts to be curious and proactive, particularly when you鈥檙e fairly new in industry.鈥

Siobhan White Manager at Resource Productions

Life at Reading College

Siobhan White completed her Performing and Production Arts Level 3 Extended Diploma at Reading College in 2017 and returned in 2020 to do a Departmental Management Apprenticeship. She now works as a Manager at , a UK based film and TV production company.

鈥淕oing back to college as an older student was really great for me, especially doing something I truly love,鈥 Siobhan said.

鈥淚t really gave me the chance to re-evaluate myself and understand who I was as a performer.鈥

鈥淭he apprenticeship was a new experience for me as well. I'd done an apprenticeship before, but the format was very different as it was online due to the pandemic. It taught me a lot, not only about management but also about learning online and adapting.鈥

 

Favourite memory

Reflecting on her time at college as a performing arts student, Siobhan shared her favourite memory of Reading College.

鈥淲hen the class had the opportunity to perform on the big stage at Disney World was definitely a highlight,鈥 Siobhan said.

鈥淭hat experience has given me a lot more confidence and has boosted my acting CV as well.鈥

鈥淚t wasn't just the final performance, it was the rehearsals and the process of piecing the performance together with everyone, too.鈥

 

Life after college

鈥淚'm currently working as a Training and Development Manager with Resource Productions,鈥 Siobhan said.

鈥淚 love my role, and completing my Management Apprenticeship has allowed me to move up to a managerial position and advance my career.鈥

 

Career highlights

鈥淚've always wanted to work in the Creative Industries. Working with Resource Productions in this new role allows me to do what I love, and help others start and move forward with their creative careers at the same time,鈥 Siobhan said.

鈥淭here are lots of achievements that I am very proud of in my career so far, though I'm most proud of the professional acting jobs I secured, which included touring South China with the musical Animalphabet, and securing my first feature film role in Little English.鈥

 

Advice for college leavers

Siobhan had some words of wisdom to share with college leavers.

She said: 鈥淧erforming Arts is such a wide avenue; it's not only performing on stage. Take time to explore your options and don't stress yourself out about not getting into Higher Education immediately; you have so many options and so much time.鈥

Stanley Franks Senior LSA at City of Oxford College

 

Life at City of Oxford College

Stanley studied a Performing Arts Level 3 Extended Diploma at City of Oxford College in 2013 and has now returned to his former college to work as a senior LSA.

鈥淚 really enjoyed my course. It set me up well for university and I liked how I had a lot more agency over what I was doing compared to at school,鈥 Stanley said.

鈥淭he college environment is very different from school, even down to the student-teacher relationships. A lot more trust is put in you at college, and you鈥檙e really treated like an adult which I loved.

"That sense of responsibility also helped prepare me for university and work life, as the way you manage your time is up to you.鈥

Life after college

After graduating from the University of Gloucestershire with a degree in Drama and Performance Practice and being in the acting scene for a while, Stanley decided to pursue a career in education.

He started working as an SEN teaching assistant at Cheney School, where they promoted him to a cover teacher after just a few months. Stanley then found out about an opportunity at his former college and got the role of senior LSA at City of Oxford College.

鈥淚t can be a challenging role at times, as there's a lot of responsibility. It was a huge learning curve for me as well, particularly now that I鈥檓 leading a team, as I had never done that before,鈥 Stanley said.

鈥淏ut the students really make it worth it and it鈥檚 such a rewarding job. I have a great team and I'm really fond of my peers as well. So, I feel supported with what I do.鈥

Proudest Achievement

鈥淥ne of my proudest achievements so far is definitely taking the responsibility that I have in my current role,鈥 Stanley shared.

Being able to manage a team of about 10 staff this early in my career is definitely something that I鈥檓 proud of, particularly when I鈥檓 one of the youngest in the team.鈥

Advice for pursuing a career in education

Stanley shared some words of wisdom for people wanting to start their career in education.

If you are looking for variety and different challenges every day, then being an LSA will definitely be a great position for you,鈥 Stanley said.

鈥淢y advice is to have fun with it. Your job will look different every day and you learn a lot, very quickly so, make the most of it and enjoy it.

鈥淚t鈥檚 a really rewarding job. Seeing the impact you have every day, not just on people鈥檚 education, but on their confidence and self-belief too is unmatchable.鈥

Torin Budd Junior Social Media and Platforms Journalist

Life at Farnham College

Torin Budd completed his A Levels in Graphic Design, Media Studies and Photography at Farnham College in 2020. He now works as a Junior Social Media and Platforms Journalist at The Times and The Sunday Times.

Torin said: 鈥淢y time at Farnham College was quite transformational. I started college not knowing what I wanted to do long-term, but I knew I wanted to play music and I thought I didn't want to go to university.

鈥淭he teaching staff were fantastic in providing support but also inspiring me to push myself and continue into university.

鈥淚n my second year at Farnham, I was the Student Union President of the Guildford College Group, which is a role I took great pride in.

鈥淚 thoroughly enjoyed representing the students and raising their issues on their behalf, as well as attending the NUS Conference in Glasgow in 2019.鈥

 

Life after college

After finishing his studies at Farnham College, Torin went on to study Journalism at the University of Winchester.

鈥淎fter studying at University for three years, I am now working as a Junior Social Media and Platforms Journalist at The Times and The Sunday Times,鈥 he said.

鈥淢y day-to-day tasks include everything from tweeting to over a million followers, to doing voiceovers for TikTok videos.

鈥淓very day at work truly feels like a dream and one I have worked for since my time at Farnham College, as many of the skills I learnt during my time at the college are still applicable in my role today."

 

Proudest achievement听

Torin shared his proudest achievement since attending college.

He said: 鈥淎side from achieving a 2:1 in my degree and working in my current job, my proudest achievement was to work as a touring musician during the summer of 2022.

鈥淚t was a dream come true to go on tour with people who chose me based on my ability they had previously seen. I am also proud to have had my footage from my time at university used by ITV Meridian.鈥

 

Advice to college leavers

Torin had some words of wisdom to share with students that are about to leave college and embark on their next steps.

He said: 鈥淢y best piece of advice to college students is to follow their passion and keep an open mind. I had no idea I wanted to be a journalist until I happened to hang around after a Media Studies talk which ran into a talk about the Journalism University course I would later devote all my time to.

鈥淚f you do these two things, you will come across new experiences that you never thought would be possible. I believe that any goals will be achievable if you follow what you're truly passionate about.鈥