The crossroads at 18 - Robyn's experience

13 February 2020

By Robyn Warwick

The crossroads at 18 - Robyn's experience

​Next up its Robyn’s turn to share the choices she made in her teenage years!

What did you want to do at 18?

When I was 18 I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do or where I was heading really!

At 16 I followed the crowd and carried on in education – going in to the sixth form to do A Levels – but it soon became clear that there was a pretty big leap from GCSE and I found the whole thing completely stressful.

Part way through the year I decided the subjects I’d taken just weren’t for me, so I enrolled at Exeter College to study Media, Drama and Photography. At the time I thought I might be able to carve out a career as a photographer although this quickly went out of the window when I realised how competitive the industry is and I was unlikely to make a decent living from it.

When did you start work?

While I was at college I decided to get a part time job. I was desperate to earn some decent money and stand on my own two feet – so that’s what I did.

I thought bar work would suit my personality so armed with my CV, I headed for Gandys to bag myself a job. Fate/luck – whatever you want to call it – intervened and I never made it there. As I was passing Coolings, the manager spotted that I had my CV. We chatted, he offered me a job there and then and that was my first step in to the world of hospitality!

Was working life what you thought it would be?

I loved it. It gave me the challenge and buzz I was looking for. Within six weeks I’d been promoted and given extra responsibilities and it was at that point I decided to put all my energy in to work, rather than fit it round studying. I left college and have never looked back!

Starting work made me realise I wasn’t enjoying the course at all and that I’d just followed the path that all my friends were taking by carrying on with education. But it just wasn’t for me – I didn’t feel like I needed to read a book to carry on growing and developing.

Where there any down sides to working full time?

The money was amazing – for the first time I was financially independent. I got my own flat and grew up!

The big downside was the number of hours I was working – which was totally my choice. I loved earning the money but it was at the expense of my health. Being young, I also liked going out with my friends so I just burnt out and ended up pretty ill. It was at that point I got out of hospitality and moved in to an office job.

What do you think about education vs career now?

I’m probably basing this on my experience but I don’t think there’s any value in getting a degree for the sake of it and being saddled with a load of debt. Fair enough if you can’t have the career you want without it – I just prefer to get hands on experience.

What would you say to your 18 year old self now?

Don’t bow to peer pressure – go with your gut instinct and don’t follow the crowd. Getting out of formal education was totally the right thing for me to do but I don’t regret giving it a go it as I’d probably be thinking ‘what if’ if I hadn’t.

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