Every coaching journey is unique. For some students, a successful coaching experience means becoming open to a Plan B career. For others, it’s about finding clarity in next steps after GCSEs. For some young people, like Maria from Prendergast Ladywell school, coaching has a transformative impact on their emotions, self-perception and entire outlook on their future.
Here, Maria, in Year 10, explains the amazing journey of discovery she went on with her coach Anna, from Zoopla.
Before the programme
Before I came onto the Future Frontiers programme I had a lot of tension because I thought there was just one path after school, and that if I didn't pass my GCSEs and if I didn't do this, if I didn't do that, I would not get anywhere in life. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. But again, I was putting pressure on myself because I thought there was only one straight path to it. I knew I had to pass GCSEs, and if I didn't pass GSCSs I was going to fail my whole entire life. I was stressing myself out a lot and putting a lot of pressure on myself.
"I was stressing myself out a lot and putting a lot of pressure on myself."
I was very excited about joining the Future Frontiers programme! I am ambitious: I want to be a business woman and to own my own car, and I was excited to talk to people about what I want to be.
That first meeting with my coach, Anna, was very good. She's very friendly. I’m a big feminist and so is she so we got on alright! She really did support me and listened to me.
Discovering my skills and exploring options
With Anna I found out about other jobs and learned I could study psychology, or become a psychiatrist. It’s not that I'm really interested in it, but just exploring other things I could do based on what I have helped release my tension. Because I thought the skills I have weren’t much. But my coach showed me that all the things I do outside of school are worth a lot and that I shouldn’t worry because I can do a lot with that experience.
"I never knew that all of these things involve responsibility and practical skills like time management, that can be used at work."
I do volunteering, dog-walking, baby sitting. I never knew that all of these things involve responsibility and practical skills like time management, that can be used at work. Anna helped me to see that with these skills and the GCSEs grades I’m going to get, I can do different things. So I looked into psychiatry as one alternative to Law, with the skills I now realise I have. This relieves me from all the stress that I had. And I feel very good!
Conversations with professional role models
In the final coaching session I spoke to a solicitor who was doing his two years’ traineeship. I learned that he worked in different areas of law until the end of the work experience, when he narrowed it down to one. It was very good for me to know that I'll be able to work with different types of law before settling down in one area.
I also spoke to a barrister. And now this is the interesting bit. She told me that barristers are self-employed and work in chambers. I also found out that solicitors do all the evidence work and then they pass it on to the barristers who present it in court. And I thought: wait, I want to do the evidence and I want to be the barrister. This is where Alice, the Future Frontiers Programme Manager came along and was a very big help. She said if I want to do both then I can be a solicitor advocate, where you gather the evidence but have the right to present in court as well. So boom! I thought, yes! Solicitor advocate here I come!
"This relieves me from all the stress that I had. And I feel very good!"
So for my next steps I'm going to do my GCSEs, and get the highest grades possible. If I don't get the grades I need, I'll go to college and really try and re-do my exams. And then I’ll go onto A-Levels, and from there I can either do an intermediate apprenticeship, or I can go on to do a solicitor apprenticeship, which takes six years. I think I'm going to do the solicitor apprenticeship: I’d really like to be in the law firm, learning, while working and getting paid.
But also, if I realise later on that I don’t really like the taste of law, I could go into university to study psychology. Or be something else. What Anna made me understand is that there's not just one path towards my dream of being independent with my own car and my own house. It has opened up my eyes.
"What Anna made me understand is that there's not just one path towards my dream."
Highlight of the coaching
Talking to the barrister and solicitor was really great. But what really counted was the experience with Anna as my coach: she played a big part in all of this. She's so helpful and so funny and so nice.
My message to Anna at Zoopla:
Thank you very much Anna, I really do appreciate you. I really look up to you because you’re a big role model. You’ve really impacted my life.
How I feel now
I feel like the world is mine! I’ve got so many opportunities, as long as I put my head down and I work for what I want to do. I can do anything I want. I can be anyone I want. I can travel the world.
I feel so free!
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