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Emily Whittle talking about what her work as a speech and language therapist involves

Bolton alumni give advice at careers day

Fifteen former Bolton School pupils speak to GCSE and A-level students to help with career and higher education choices

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 16, 2016 | School life

Bolton School recently welcomed back fifteen alumni who returned to speak to Boys’ and Girls’ Division pupils in years 11-13 as part of an Alumni Careers Day. This was arranged to allow pupils to hear from a variety of speakers from different areas of employment. 

The keynote speaker for the day was Charlie Ball, the Head of Higher Education Intelligence at Graduate Prospects. After leaving Bolton School in 1988, he studied Chemistry at the University of Warwick followed by a Master’s degree at the University of Manchester, and eventually received his Doctorate in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Warwick. However, he decided that he did not want to be an academic, but he was good at explaining the data that he had gathered, and so moved in a different direction. He is now a specialist in higher education and graduate employment, and has built his own position at the career guidance service Graduate Prospects.  

Charlie spoke to year 12 about the pros and cons of choosing to attend university. He was able to give a really clear picture of what university has to offer, the costs involved, and what the graduate job market is currently like.  

Pupils also chose to attend five talks from other Old Boys and Old Girls, based on their own interests. Speakers included: Fiona Ashworth (Barrister), Bilal Barkatali (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon), Tom Besford (Arts and Heritage Manager at the Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust), Grace Gordon (Entrepreneur), Timothy Hatton (Architect), Florence Hughes (Fashion Designer), Sarah Hutton (Ogden Science Officer at University College London), Flying Officer Paul Hutton (RAF Trainee Helicopter Pilot), Stephen Lintott (Solicitor), Ben Lomax (Client Director, Finance), Vicky Lyle (Physiotherapist), Kate Parr (Accountant), Paul Skeels (Pilot, British Airways), and Emily Whittle (Speech and Language Therapist).

Pupils heard about the sometimes unexpected paths that alumni have taken to reach this point in their careers. For example, Tom Besford studied Philosophy at university, but it was his involvement with organising concerts and events during his studies that led to a job as a freelance events manager, working in concert venues and at festivals across the country. This has in turn fed into his current role managing heritage and culture in Rochdale. Many of the alumni could share similarly interesting stories of their career progression which showed pupils the varied options that lie ahead. 

Surgeon Bilal Barkatali, physiotherapist Vicky Lyle and speech and language therapist Emily Whittle gave insight into three different areas of the medical profession, for those currently choosing a route. These three talks also highlighted the importance of work experience and volunteering, and how such activities can help to provide a differentiating factor on university applications. 

Entrepreneur Grace Gordon (second from left on front row) with some pupils who attended her talk

How do you stay up to date and involved with your alumni? We’re looking for top tips and success stories – get in touch with the editor if you would like to comment on the subject.

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