Careering along the right path: convention helps pupils consider their futures

Careering along the right path: convention helps pupils consider their futures

Dozens of Old Elizabethans and other guests turned out to advise Year 11 boys on their future paths in a new-style QE Careers Convention.

The event featured sessions focusing on specific professions, seminars offering guidance on a range of career-related topics, and an afternoon careers fair where the boys could gain one-to-one advice from alumni and other external guests.

In a break with previous years, this year’s event, spearheaded by Assistant Head (Pupil Destinations) James Kane, was held during the day and was run with a new format.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My thanks go to the many OEs and other friends of the School who visited to support the Careers Convention. It was wonderful to see some new faces alongside veterans from the pre-pandemic years.

“We wanted to give students the opportunity to hear from and talk to people working in a wide range of industries and professions, whether to open up new possibilities for them or to provide insight into areas they were already considering. This kind of support is invaluable as they begin to make decisions about their futures.”

Following a welcome from Mr Kane, motivational speaker and executive coach Kam Taj (OE 2004–2011) delivered a keynote speech to the whole year group on Keeping an Open Mind.

Kam shared with the 180 boys the ups and downs of his own story, including his thwarted ambition to play professional basketball, his success in gaining a place at Cambridge and the personal crisis he went through at the age of 21. “Now, six years later, I have two business – my leadership & coaching services for professionals, and my Exam Success Academy courses for students. I’m doing what I love and what fulfils me most.”

After his talk, and a session on Appropriate Alternatives to University, all Year 11 had a half-hour talk on careers in medicine. They could choose also between sessions looking at careers in law, finance and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

After lunch, the options were for the following talks:

  • ‘Swiggly careers’ – ditch the ladder and discover opportunity
  • Essential employability skills
  • How your career can help to solve the world’s pressing problems.

The careers fair, which took place in the spacious setting of the Shearly Hall, featured more than 50 guests, most of them Old Elizabethans, covering the following areas: accounting, banking & finance; built environment; charities & voluntary sector; creative industries & media; engineering; law; medicine, dentistry & veterinary medicine; professional & business services; public sector, and science & technology.

Mr Kane, who leads on careers provision at QE, said: “There are many different pathways to success, and the day made clear to the boys that career progression may take unexpected turns along the way. We raised awareness about alternative paths to university, including apprenticeships, which is a route a small number of leavers have successfully followed in recent years.

“Part of the day was to encourage our Year 11 boys to think about careers that hadn’t necessarily occurred to them or been top of their agenda. I was pleased with how they responded.”