This week, I was lucky enough to be offered two days of work experience at Edelman’s office in London. It was the first time I had ever been in an office environment and it was certainly very different to anything I had encountered at home.
And yet, this was probably one of the best experiences of my life. Why? Because for the first time, I was right in the middle of the field I want to work in. I was able to talk to the people that were already in the jobs I could see myself doing, appreciate the kind of tasks they had to do and also discover jobs that I didn’t even know existed but still suddenly loved. Everything from the projects I got to work on to the conversations I participated in to even the office itself was just amazing to experience.
Getting experiences like this all comes with being 17, which in this day and age is both exciting and terrifying. The number of opportunities offered to me is incredible, but with sky-high university fees and ever increasing house prices, my cohort worry if we can actually make it into a job we love and also afford to live comfortably. Add the uncertainty of Brexit into the mix and suddenly, leaving school seems like the last thing we want to do.
At least 90% of the students in my school wanted to remain in the EU. Of course, we were all too young to vote at the time and had no say in the decision that will affect our future the most. This makes Generation Z’s prospects uncertain, but one thing we do know is that the decisions we need to make are only getting harder as politics makes them increasingly more complicated. How will Brexit affect me? Will I be able to afford my own home? Is university the only way for me to get a good job? These questions are maddeningly unanswered and progressively troubling.
So what do we plan to do? For me personally, university is just on the horizon. But for others, it may be different. A well-known characteristic of Generation Z is more 16 and 18 year olds are leaving education to go into work, whether that is fully paid or as an apprentice. Many even gain degrees while working, avoiding the university fees and student debt completely. The balance between universities and apprenticeships is tipping, and the decisions are almost overwhelming.
As I said before, I am extremely lucky that I’ve had the experiences to know what I want to do. The time I have spent at Edelman is something I will definitely cherish when making my own decisions. And yes, my university fees will be awfully high. Yes, I may not be able to afford my own house. Yes, Brexit may completely mess up my plan.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not excited about the future.
Written by Sophie Utteridge, an A-Level student from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. She recently embarked on some work experience with the Edelman editorial team