It’s a really strange feeling being 16. You have some pretty big life decisions ahead of you. Should I go to university? If so, which one? Does it even make a difference?
Schools try to make this a little easier for you. They bring in speakers that they think could add some value to their students. That’s where I came in.
The accidental birth of Scoodle actually came because I couldn’t afford my tuition fees at university - so I built small classes for students. That was all pretty good because in just over a year I paid for the entire degree. Fast forward a few years, that became Scoodle - a platform that lets students ask questions, get answers and book lessons. But that’s not why the assembly was a big deal.
It’s because of my background. Being an ethnic minority from a low-income background, I had every reason not to build Scoodle. I never grew up around entrepreneurs, and I never really had a role model growing up - this is usually the case in schools with students from low-income backgrounds. For one, our dreams and ambitions growing up were just getting jobs - let alone trying to build companies.
This entire assembly was a lot less about Scoodle, and a lot more about simply sharing experiences. It’s really difficult for a student to find someone they can actually relate to. When you get this right, it’s unbelievable what happens.
“It’s really difficult for a student to find someone they can actually relate to. When you get this right, it’s unbelievable what happens.”
There’s always a tonne of things that I’d to share, but for the students who happen to be reading this, I wanted to share the three biggest takeaways that I always share.
Some of the best things you do in life will always start unplanned.
I say this quite often. If life went my way, Scoodle would never have existed - which is a pretty funny thing to say. I had to face tripling tuition fees to wake myself up and solve my own problems. At the end of the day, that’s really what a company is. It isn’t a business plan that’s hundreds of pages long. It’s just someone trying to solve a problem they care about. From that, you usually find out that others have the same problem and voila, that’s a company.
And that’s the story of Scoodle. I loved Economics, and I worked as a teacher and tutor part-time. I put both together and created short classes. It wasn’t a business at the time, it was just me doing what I thought I could do well. That was enough to keep me going, and that’s really all I needed.
Things may not always go according to plan, but it’s almost always going to be OK. You’re most creative when your choices are limited.
Study what you love - it’s OK!
“You’re going to study Sports Science*? What on earth are you going to do with that?!”
*disclaimer: sorry to the sports scientists for using your subject as an example.
OK, so, sports science is just an example but we’ve all been there. People will tell you that the only subjects worth doing are medicine and law (blah blah blah).
One of my greatest opportunities was being able to work for Google. They’re an amazing company with really smart people. I had many hours worth of 1-to-1 interviews with them. They had to figure out a bunch of really important things that would help them make a big decision - should they hire me or not. Amidst all the questions they asked me, guess how many were about my education?
Just one question. And do you know what it was?
“Why did you study Political Economy?”
Me: “shrugs. I liked it.”
And that was it. The fact that I liked a subject was a good enough reason. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t become a doctor with my degree, but that’s OK. You see, most jobs care about how quickly you can learn. If you have a degree from a good school, you’ve already shown that you’re super disciplined and can learn quickly. The subject doesn’t matter so much. Not to mention, apprenticeships are pretty awesome too!
Just saying yes.
One of the best things about being a student is ‘student status’. The obvious part is the student discount which is great. But there’s so much more. By being a student, you have opportunities to work, volunteer and study all over the world. Being a student took me to India, USA and across the middle-east..for free.
These things really make you stand out. Going back to my Google interview, a lot of the things I spoke about was everything I did alongside my degree. Not only do you learn the things you enjoy doing, but you also learn the things you don’t like (and that is so, so important). You should:
Volunteer at every opportunity. It doesn’t matter where. Ask small companies if you can shadow or work with them for a week or two. Again, it doesn’t matter where. Do internships if you can. It doesn’t matter where. Start something, it doesn’t matter in what. Are you good taking pictures? Go and figure out how to make a basic website and put all your pictures there. Maybe you really enjoy make-up? Go and learn how to make videos, and put stuff on Instagram and Youtube. Are you a good teacher? There’s a home for you at Scoodle :)
Given that this was assembly was 40 minutes, there so many other key points. Hopefully, they’ll find themselves in other blogs that we’ll share as we speak to more and more schools.
I’m always happy to speak to students, and I’ve gone around the country doing exactly that. I love learning what’s going on, and what students care about. You can always email me directly if you’d like to chat. I’m on email@example.com.
That’s all folks!