Something that I have learned but not until recently been able to put into words succinctly, is that society has established specific routes to get from A to B in life. They are pipelines. Stick to those well trodden paths and things are smooth sailing, for the most part. Find yourself off the beaten track and things can get a lot tougher.
I was in the middle of getting a degree when my ME/CFS got to its worst and interrupted things. Last year it became clear that in the condition that I was in, I wasn’t going to be able to continue university. I made the difficult decision to withdraw before completing my final year.
So I left with a DipHE (Diploma of Higher Education) and hoped that maybe there might be some form of job combined with training that I could pursue and get myself back on track so far as a coding job was concerned.
If I had managed to graduate with a full BSc then I could have gone for one of many graduate roles. Unfortunately, it turns out that my options are limited with just a DipHE. Then I had a look at Apprenticeships which would give me a job plus vocational training. Perfect. Except for the fact that my (“Level 5”) DipHE makes me overqualified and no Apprenticeship scheme would accept me. It took a little persistence to ascertain that last point because they don’t generally offer any feedback on why an application was unsuccessful. It’s a good thing I finally got that feedback because otherwise I might still be futilely pursuing a dead end.
I went and spoke with a careers advisor at a National Careers Service drop-in session. Basically I was told that my CV was good and that were I younger and less qualified, I would be a perfect candidate for an Apprenticeship.
However, even if apprenticeships weren’t a complete dead end, the ones that might not silently filter me out because of my existing qualification appear to be the rare (non-existent?) exception rather than the rule.
It sounds crazy but basically I discovered that I would have been better off being less qualified. I would have had more options that way but as it was, I had committed down a path and it seemed that my only option now was to see it through to the end.
So the careers advisor had two suggestions for me:
- Omit the DipHE from my CV and see if that helps with apprenticeship scheme applications.
- Finish the degree.
The first idea, I thought questionable. Omission of relevant qualification information feels too much like lying to me - especially where it impacts on whether the government subsidises apprenticeship course funding - so I wasn’t comfortable heeding this piece of advice. Also, it would leave a massive chunk of time unaccounted for - time in which I had a range of experiences and demonstrated important skills through extracurricular activities.
The other idea, I thought had some merit. Except I can’t afford (financially) to keep on doing the whole student and university thing - hence the attraction of paid job + training (i.e. apprenticeships). And anyway I’m not physically well enough to be able to commit to study at a physical university at this point.
So here I am. I’m feeling better now than I was feeling this time last year and I’m dying to get back on track. This week I’m registering for BSc Computing & IT with Open University so I can finish my degree. It begins this autumn. In the meantime I’ll try to get a job to keep me going until I can finally get the job that I’ve always wanted.
By my estimation, I’m now about six years behind schedule. I’ve a lot of time and lost ground to make up and I’m determined to do whatever it takes. The nice fellow who gave me that feedback on exactly why my application was unsuccessful also said this:
"It’s a tricky situation to be in and I believe you’ll find an opportunity somewhere soon with your resilience."
I think so too. At least I hope it will be the case.
I always feel a need to thank anyone who manages to read to the end of my posts for doing so. So, if you made it this far: THANK YOU. I do tend towards verbosity, I know. I also know there’s enough noise on the web without me adding to it so I do try to only speak/write when I have something of substance to say - and when I do feel that I have something of substance to speak of, I sure can speak substantially. ^_^