Jamie's story

Jamie is close to commissioning from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, but his career path hasn't been smooth. Here, he talks about the importance of enjoying what you do and 'following your gut' when making decisions. 

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Jamie's story

What qualifications did you take at school?

GCSEs, and then A levels in English Literature, Media Studies, Sociology and German.

You went to uni straight after finishing school. How did you decide where to go to uni?

I spoke to friends who were already at uni and went on open days to check out my shortlist. I settled on Cardiff because I love the city – there is always something going on, great nightlife, lots of sport and it was just far enough from home.

How did you decide what course to apply for?

When applying for uni I thought that I should choose the course that would be best for my future. I did this and got into my first-choice uni to study Law and German, but quickly discovered that I had no interest in what I was learning! At the end of my first year I changed to something I actually enjoyed and had a genuine interest in studying.

If I could do it all again, I would definitely pick Religious Studies and Ancient History straight away – the course was perfect for me and it is a lot easier to fully commit to something you enjoy. I think changing to a subject I was interested in was the reason I did well in my degree.

What were your favourite and least favourite parts of uni?

My favourite bit was definitely the social side of uni. I made some really good friends and shared a lot of memorable experiences with them.

My least favourite bit was never having enough money to fully enjoy my spare time. I had a large student loan and I took on several jobs doing everything from waiting tables to teaching group fitness classes, but things were still either too expensive or could only be done once.

What did you do when you finished uni?

I qualified as a fitness instructor during one of my uni summer breaks to gain access to some relatively well-paid work while studying. When I graduated, I continued this for a bit.

I loved the fitness instruction job because I found it easy to do and it kept me fit and healthy. Enjoying the job kept my energy and enthusiasm high but I didn’t get a lot of mental stimulation and there weren’t enough challenges for me.

I moved into sales for a bit but after going travelling, I reassessed where I wanted to be compared to where I was. As was the case when I started uni, I realised that I was going down one path but actually wanted to be going in a completely different direction.

What steps did you take to change career?

I followed one of my earliest intentions and applied to join the Army. I wanted to make sure I was doing it for myself and and not to impress anyone or to fulfil a pre-conceived 'career', so kept my application secret from friends and family. I was successful with my application and have never looked back!

You didn’t talk it through with your friends or family? That’s an interesting approach… How did they react when you told them?

It came as a bit of a shock for some people. I’m not saying that when considering my options I didn’t think about how it would affect my girlfriend, friends or family, but I knew that I was unhappy. I realised that no one who cared about me could be happy with or for me unless I took steps to change my outlook.

Once I explained my motives people were quite accepting and I learned that the value of something is always more important than the cost.

I’m now close to commissioning from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and am looking forward to the exciting path that lies ahead!

You tried a few things before finding a career you’re excited about. If you could do it all again, would you do anything differently?

I think university was definitely worth all of the stress of studying and being constantly broke, although it would have been better if I had made the right course choice straight away!
Moving away from home allowed me to grow up and become more independent and self-sufficient, but also allowed me to escape the bubble of living in a small town and broaden my perception of society.

Uni helped me to develop the vast majority of my transferable skills, without which I probably wouldn’t have got into the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

If I could do it all again, I would apply to start at RMAS earlier so I was heading in a direction that I was happy to commit to and work hard for.

Do you have any advice for students who are unsure about which career path to choose?

Follow your gut instinct and don't be swayed or influenced by friends or family. Take their advice on board but make your own decisions and be your own person. Don't put yourself in a position where you are looking back thinking, "I wish I had done..."; work out what you want, establish how to get it, and go for it. Don't hold back, just do it, and make sure you enjoy every second of it!

Great – thanks, Jamie. All the best with whatever comes next!