On Monday 8th March 2021, Guild member Karen Kwong (1986-1991, Sidney Lodge/Cambray) joined us virtually to give a talk entitled, ‘Journey into the Unknown or Adventure of a Lifetime?’, in which she discussed how her experiences of her time at CLC, university and the workplace have led her to a successful career.

She started by telling us how studying classical civilisation with a brilliant teacher led to a love of ancient Greek and Roman society, and her decision to study it at university. This shows how influential teachers are, often indirectly, with pupils’ decisions regarding their subject choices, and I know that that is certainly the case for me with the subjects that I chose for A Level.

Karen initially chose to study Ancient History and Greek at university but later decided to change to Ancient History so she could focus on the part that interested her most. While she didn’t know what she wanted to do in the future, this didn’t stop her from pursuing the subject that she enjoyed.

An important point, especially for SFC pupils, is that unless you want to pursue a career which requires specific qualifications, such as an economist, doctor, lawyer, etc, it does not matter what you study at university. You can be just as successful as long as you are willing to learn and work hard, read around the subject that you are studying, and that you are able to ask the right questions. It is the transferable skills, such as analytical and research skills, that are gained at university, which are the key to being successful in the workplace.

After leaving university, Karen initially struggled to find a job, but eventually found one in a bank where she gained essential skills and after two years there, she took a leap by accepting a job at a trading company. She explained that at first she felt quite out of her comfort zone, but under the guidance of a good boss, she got promoted to a role where she led the merger of two teams within the company.

After taking a break to go travelling, she did a master’s degree in Business Psychology and then became an executive coach and business psychologist, helping people progress in their working environment. This highlighted that despite the twisting nature of her career path, she discovered what she really enjoyed doing and is very successful at it.

The two main points I took from Karen’s talk were that firstly, it does not matter if you are unsure of what you want to do in life, and secondly, that at university you can study what you love and are passionate about, and then use the skills you gain from that in the future, alongside hard work to get where you want to be.

Amelia, SFC1