The 'best thing I ever did'?

Looking out my window on a dreary, grey, miserable Thursday night in Bristol, it has got me thinking. I start a new job and a whole new career in just over 3 weeks, where I will be working with friends, hopefully doing something I enjoy and will soon be fully qualified in. It takes me back to the day I got my A Level results and all my friends were talking about what university they were going to apply for, what courses they wanted to do...I joined in and said I wanted to do Mental Health Nursing at the University of the West of England.
I got caught up in the moment, it was what all my friends were doing, it seemed the right thing to do.
I applied...was accepted...and started planning the next four years of my life with my best friends.

Then a few weeks later I just stopped and thought 'is this really what I want?' I decided that no, it wasn't. I was doing it for all the wrong reasons- because it was what all my friends were doing, because it was a natural progression from A Levels, because my family wanted it for me.

But did I want it?

No, I didn't. So I rejected the university offer, and started looking for a full time job.

I didn't know what I wanted to do, no idea in fact. I ended up starting work as a dental nurse/receptionist at a local dental practice. I met some amazing friends, who, seven years on I can honestly say are still my best friends and will be for years to come. I learnt new skills, got a customer service NVQ and had the time of my life.

I became very close to my then manager, and when she left to manage another dental practice for a much larger corprate company, she took me with her. Again, I met more people that I still call friends to this day,  became head receptionist and developed more and more skills.

After I felt I had come to the end of my progression as a dental receptionist, I popped my CV on a well known job advertiser website and shortly afterwards received a call from the company I now work for. I started out as an IT Triage (basically reception) and worked my way up to my current role, Applications Specialist working on dental systems, looking after the company Intranet, administration for the IT team and other responsibilities too.

I was sent on a course for an ITIL qualification and joined the BCS for IT Professionals. My boss left shortly after I was promoted to Application Specialist, and has now offered me my new role that I start in 3 weeks, where I will be fully trained up as a Junior Web Developer.

Some of my friends that went to university are doing the jobs that they love, but they aren't earning as much as everyone thinks you get if you have a degree. Having a piece of paper is not the be all and end all these days. Don't feel as though you have to be forced into doing something just because you friends are, or just to get the 'uni experience'. You can do it all without the debt, stress and while getting an experience of your own.

I can't wait to start this new chapter in my life...and as I was talking to my dad when the job offer first came through, he turned to me and said, "You know when you turned down that University offer? ... Best thing you ever did."

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