Olivia works in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford as a Communications and Events Assistant following the completion of her Level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship.
Please tell us who you are, where you come from and what you are doing now.
I’m Olivia, I’m from a small village in South Oxfordshire, and I work for the University of Oxford, Department of Engineering Science as a Communications and Events Assistant following the completion of my Level 3 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship.
When did you come to The Henley College, what did you study here, and how did you get on?
I came to Henley in 2019 and studied English Literature, Law, and Photography A-Levels. I left college with A*, A, A.
What was your first impression of The Henley College?
My first impression of Henley was how amazing the site and facilities were, particularly with photography. Getting to work in one of the best darkrooms and have access to some of the best equipment was amazing and helped me immensely. I also wasn’t sure what to expect from the change to the teaching I was used to at school, but I quickly grew fond of all my teachers, whom I’m still in touch with now! All my teachers made the whole experience the best it could’ve been with their unwavering enthusiasm and passion for their subjects. I owe my growth in confidence and many life skills I use in my job today, to them all.
Why did you choose to come here? What helped make up your mind?
I knew I would always come to Henley due to the vast array of subject choices available as I I wanted to take English Literature, Law, and Photography, but I couldn’t find anywhere other than Henley that could offer this combination so it was an obvious choice for me and the best decision I could have made. Many of my school friends went to different sixth forms, but I knew that I would benefit more from The Henley College environment where you’re given more independence; this certainly set me up better than I could have imagined to be able to walk into my career and I know that I would not have been in the position to do this without going to Henley.
What is your best memory of your time at The Henley College and why?
I have a couple of favourite memories from my time at college.
I was a part of the dreaded ‘covid years’ during 2020 where we were at home remote learning for the majority of the year. During this time, my English Literature class grew very close, and we were kept motivated by our amazing teacher Hannah who kept spirits high during difficult times. Once we returned to college, we were a new class and had bonded over our struggles and were kept connected through our love of literature: the worst situation had the best outcome.
I remember fondly my photography trip to Belfast in 2019 as being one of the best experiences and opportunities at college. We saw some amazing sites, took great pictures, and this allowed the class to connect and have fun the mutual love for photography.
Did you always want to do what you are doing now?
I was never certain of the career path I wanted to go down; however I knew that the apprenticeship route would suit me as I was keen to begin work at the earliest opportunity, without sacrificing my studies. I took a variety of subject choices to provide different routes as I was deciding between apprenticeships in Law and Marketing (two very different areas!)
In the back of my mind, I always knew that Marketing was the right career path for me as I have been allowed to be creative, applying my love for photography and design, as well as a love for journalism and passion for writing from my essay-based subjects. Marketing is a huge sector and is continuing to grow and evolve and I liked the idea of adapting to change and having a huge amount of variety within my job role.
What has influenced your decisions about the subjects you have studied and the career path you have chosen?
I was always set on my subject choices, but I wasn’t certain of my career path. I took my subject choices as a chance to decide what would suit me best going forward so took a variety. I studied media at GCSE level, so had an idea that marketing could suit me going forward, so chose to try photography as a new subject for me to add to my skill set. Following GCSEs, I was always going to continue my English studies as I enjoyed it thoroughly and this was the same with Law as I wanted to explore something new. I never regretted my choices as it helped me to understand what I wanted to do going forward and know what might suit me best.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I am hoping in the future to potentially go onto a degree level apprenticeship to continue my studies and gain further qualifications. With this, I am excited to see where Marketing will take me in future as opportunities are endless and the sector is only growing and evolving over time.
I am planning to stay within my team and continuing to grow and learn, promoting my workplace and encouraging students into Engineering as well as promoting the diversification of the industry. Having the influence to change the department narrative and promote ground-breaking research is an amazing opportunity that I feel privileged to be a part of and I’m excited to see where this will take me.
What do you think The Henley College did for you – aside from the qualifications you gained?
More than anything, The Henley College provided me with confidence and trust in my own intuition, as well as an abundance of skills. Although many do, I was not in a position to begin an apprenticeship post-GCSEs at 16 and found the college experience to be extremely helpful for equipping me to walk into my job role. Henley also allowed me to form great connections and relationships with friends and my teachers who supported me immensely throughout my time there and I doubt I would be where I am without their unwavering support and guidance.
If you had one piece of advice for a 15-16 year old thinking about their future, what would it be?
If you have any uncertainties about what you want to do in your future, use your subject choices to give yourself an idea of different options available. It’s good to consider other routes such as apprenticeships as they give you work experience, qualifications, and a salary which may suit some individuals more than university. Definitely utilise the resources available to you at college and talk to the careers advisors as this can be extremely useful to establish company connections and provide clarity on what may suit you best – they’re there for a reason.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just wanted to thank the college for their support and acknowledge how brilliant and unique it is that they provide students with ideas of career routes and direction that differ from the traditional University route.