School leaver blog: goal-setters and diamond setters

  • Anna Vall Navés
  • 04 Sep 2019

Welcome to this week’s AllAboutSchoolLeavers’ blog! Today, we’ll be looking at everything from the importance of setting goals to the dazzling and rather unusual diamond-setting apprenticeship. We’ll also cover the success of Perdi Williams—an award-winning apprentice—and this week’s most relevant school leaver news. 

Shine bright like a diamond...setter?

Career insight of the week: setting clear and ambitious goals

Recently, Ed Sheeran has attracted attention from the media after announcing his kind-of-retirement… at the age of 28. In his short career, he has been extremely successful, but what’s particularly shocking about his fame is that he seemed to have it all meticulously planned out from the start. But in fact, recent research suggests that Ed Sheeran’s methodical goal-setting may actually have been the key to his success. 

So this week, we’re taking a look at the art of setting realistic goals for yourself—one of the best ways to help you get where you want to be in your career. Not only can goal-setting help you clarify what it is that you want to be doing in the future (and of course, it’s okay to change your mind), but it can also help you stay focused and motivated.

Good career goals should be clear and challenging. Take some time to consider where you’d like to be in three, five or even ten years, and research the steps you’d need to take to get there. It’s normal to not know exactly what you want to do yet, but picturing what your future might realistically look like and the path you’d have to follow to get there can give you a better idea of whether the career you’re envisioning is really for you. And don’t be scared to set the bar high; it’s better to fail and try again than to underestimate your potential. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on setting career goals that you might want to read. 

“The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”– Michelle Obama

Weird and wonderful apprenticeships: diamond setting

If you’d like to spend the rest of your life surrounded by diamonds, then a diamond-setting apprenticeship might be for you! Although it certainly isn’t as glamorous in real life as it looks on paper, an intermediate or advanced diamond-setting apprenticeship can open up all sorts of paths in the jewellery industry later on, and indeed, many previous apprentices have become extremely successful. 

Laurence Graff OBE, the billionaire founder of Graff Diamonds, started as an apprentice at a jewellery workshop in London. As he explains, his apprenticeship gave him all the skills he needed to start to “build up”, until he was eventually able to start his own company. Now, he is one of the richest former apprentices in the world, with a net worth of almost £3bn. If you’re interested in the jewellery industry, plenty of employers—including Graff Diamonds—offer apprenticeships and training.

Spotlight on: Perdi Williams, award-winning scientist and former apprentice

This year Perdi Williams, a research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), has been named one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). A few years ago, however, Williams was just starting as an apprentice at NPL, and she’s convinced that choosing to do an apprenticeship has been crucial to her success. 

Besides preferring practical work over academic learning, Williams emphasises that her apprenticeship allowed her to explore a breadth of options in the field she was interested in and decide what career to pursue. She explained: “I think it is a shame that a lot of people go to college and then university not knowing what they want to do. It is very rare to know for sure at such a young age, but apprenticeships give you the experience to inform your decision, more freedom and a little bit of a break from education.”

When asked what she’d like to do in the future, Williams said: “I love my job, and I want to be able to make a difference in someone's life with the research and the work I am doing. I am always open to learning more—even if you work at NPL for 100 years, you will still have more to learn because it is such a wide industry.”

School leaver news

More than 1,000 schools in the UK will soon be using Yondr, a pouch that locks away students’ phones during school hours, to regulate phone usage in class. 

UK universities have been urged to do more to fight online harassment—including cyberstalking, trolling and sexting—as less than a quarter are said to have adequate procedures in place.

An investigation by The Times has found that universities are making more than £2 million in commission from graduation gowns

On their first day of school, students in Hong Kong are boycotting their classes to attend pro-democracy protests. 

Recommended reading

  1. Diamond setting is admittedly a niche field, but it’s not nearly as weird as these 22 jobs from 100 years ago.
  2. As you head back to school, start an apprenticeship, university or work, make sure to fight for your rights—especially your napping rights
  3. On a more serious note, as you head into the new school year and perhaps purchase new technology, do make sure you’re aware of your right to privacy online and why it matters. 
  4. If you’re leaving for university soon, you might be relieved to know you’re not the only one who’s stressed. Here are some panicked Google searches from this year’s incoming freshers.
  5. You might also want to give this article on how to deal with the different types of flatmates you might encounter a read.
  6. If you’re still stressed, watch Jack Edwards’ Youtube video on what he wishes he’d known before starting university, as well as Vee Kativhu’s video covering some of the things she wishes she hadn’t done as a fresher.


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