Over 600 Abbey students, siblings and parents attended a highly successful Careers and Higher Education Convention at The Abbey supported by over 100 Advisors from employers and universities. The evening provided amazing opportunities for girls to project forwards and discover more about a huge range of jobs (from dentistry to BA pilot) and organisations (from small start-ups to The Army and Accenture), degrees and Universities.
It was wonderful to see the 25 Alumnae who had returned to the school as Advisors on their diverse careers which ranged from investment banking and veterinary science to hat making and PR. Many of them provided reassurance that they had not known what they wanted to do when they were teenagers but instead encouraged the girls to be open-minded and make the most of the amazing opportunities on offer to them as bright young women. They shared their journeys since leaving school and many emphasised how careers are now not as linear but that people should be flexible and open to changing areas several times during their working life. The networking and mentoring potential of our wonderful Abbey Alumnae community is an area that the School is keen to develop further for the benefit of former and current pupils alike.
Particular thanks go to the speakers for a series of excellent talks which were all really well attended:
Ciara Buckley, who left last summer after attaining the maximum 45 points in the IB Diploma, gave an excellent presentation about her gap year at IBM where she has been working on a variety of exciting projects. She will take up her place to read Economics at Warwick later this year but feels that she will be ahead of her peers in experience, knowledge and networking when it comes to getting a job. She highlighted to the students that they should consider whether university is for them or whether they might be better suited to an apprenticeship at 18 or consider the benefits of a gap year to travel or gain valuable work experience.
Will Orr, an Abbey Dad, is a Cardiologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and gave an inspiring talk on Medicine, reflecting on its exciting future – there has never been a better time to become a doctor!
Dr Martin Christlieb from the Department of Oncology at The University of Oxford focussed on the global teamwork involved in groundbreaking scientific research and talked about the talented female engineers, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and biologists that he works with (including former Abbey Head Girl - Ester Hammond (1989)).
Philippa Broadhurst (1991) talked about her life as a freelance Art Director for film and television working on such successes as Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Silent Witness. She emphasised how competitive the industry is and the need for a really strong work ethic but also how wonderful it was to work in a field where she could use her creative talents.
Jonathan Kershaw (a former Abbey Dad) brought into focus the breadth of world-wide opportunities that a career in Engineering offers. He also highlighted the extent to which an Engineering degree can be a springboard into a range of other careers.
Pippa Lock (2005) who works for Macmillan Cancer Support talked about careers in the third sector; the progression opportunities; and the deep job satisfaction that she gets from working in this field.
Ellie Tayler (2010) spoke about routes into Law - reflecting on her personal experiences, having gained a professional training contract at a Magic Circle firm.
Alastair Creamer of Eyes Wide Opened concluded the evening with a session about the rapid pace of change in the world and emphasised that most of the jobs that these girls will go on to do have not even been discovered yet.
The 24 universities who filled the Richards Hall were a major draw for students and parents. This was a fantastic way to save petrol, money, and weekends travelling far and wide to Open Days by having the opportunity here at school to talk directly to University representatives, and start to short list institutions.