You may leave the gates of the school behind but as an alumna you are a Sydenham High girl for life. Here are some words of advice from some of our younger alumnae to those who are preparing to leave school, and those who have just left for further education or to start careers.
Maia (Class of 2015)
When I think about the picture I had of my life at 18, there has been a shift to the one I see for myself now. This is partially because of external factors, I finished school in 2015 and the world today feels like a radically different place. However this is also because I have reassessed what I want, how I see myself and what I have to contribute….
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Maia is an actor, writer, filmmaker and artist.
Lola (Class of 2018)
Things you wish you’d known
University is not the only option! I feel the option of going straight into work is often looked down upon as it is not really a norm. You need to understand yourself and what would work best for you, not what other people are encouraging. Personally I knew for quite some time that I did not want to go to university so was not focused on applying, however it was great that Sydenham encouraged me to apply as a backup option.
What practical skills you’ve found invaluable
Social and organisation skills are a definite must for any industry. Don’t be afraid to geek out and get a life planner or to reach out and ask for help.
Advice on getting organised
Get a diary! I live from my diary, everything even the small things are written down.
Tips on how to make the best of your first week in work
Be confident! I started work at 19 and so was the youngest by far and was very nervous for the first month until I realised I was the only one who cared about the age! Try to remember everyone’s names (a downfall of mine!). And finally first impressions last a lifetime…
How to travel cheaply
My gap year was the best year of my life (so far) My best friend and I had signed up to an STA travel bus which was pretty expensive but was a great way to settle any nerves we had and perfect to show us a great route to travel. If I was to do it again I wouldn’t recommend taking this option as we didn’t realise how easy it would be to catch buses on our own time etc. STA has great routes though! Travelling in London is different. I save a lot of money cycling to work in Covent Garden and have a 16 – 25 yrs travel card which is a life saver!
How to make new friends
Go to parties! I have made so many friends and contacts in the industry through saying yes to every invite I receive!
How to manage your finances
I note down everyday expenses in my diary and total up at the end of the week. As a very visual person I find this a great way of getting to grips with how much I am spending and how much of it is necessary.
And finally… Don’t take life too seriously! It took me a while to actually think about what that means, not that nothing matters but that any mistakes made are not the end of the world!
Lola is currently working as a Production Assistant at Work Editorial in Covent Garden.
Annabelle (Class of 2019)
Make the most of every opportunity that you can as you never know how one experience could impact the path you choose to follow beyond school.
Be open to changing the direction of the path that you believe you want/should follow. Had I not eventually done this, I would not be where I am now – working in a global accounting firm where I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.
If you do decide to follow the apprenticeship route like I have, make the absolute most of it. Raise your hand to take on the challenging roles and complex tasks – nobody will know what you’re capable of unless you show them.
Always consider your long term goals, not just the short term ones. For me, as I am living at home still and not paying university fees, I am saving a large amount of what I would have spent at university into a Help to Buy ISA with the intention of being able to buy a house when I qualify as a chartered accountant at 22.
The best piece of advice I was given at work was “you will never be 100% sure in any decision you make – if you’re 60:40, that’s enough”.
Don’t always expect to know exactly what you should do in life decisions, but that’s what makes it so exciting – you never know just how amazing an opportunity may be until you just go for it!
Annabelle is a Strategy and Transactions Apprentice at EY in London, studying towards my ACA with 2023 qualification. She is also an EY Apprenticeship Ambassador. You can read more about her role at EY here