A successful young entrepreneur has urged school-leavers not to let their grades define them as GCSE results day dawns.
Oliver Hodgson left school aged 15 due to a mixture of mental health and social difficulties. The teen has gone on to launch Platinum Live, a digital media and communications agency in the Lake District.
Oliver says that grades don’t define someone’s ability to succeed.
“I grew up being told that if I didn’t pass or achieve flying colours that going into an industry of my choice wasn’t achievable or was unrealistic, it turns out this simply isn’t true,” he says.
“Good grades certainly help and can give also provide you with the dreaded fall-back plan, but even if you do leave school with excellent grades, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be a shining success. Employers, particularly in the creative and start-up spaces, look for experience, commitment, drive, and modern skillsets not just a plain CV.”
Oliver, who has been dubbed one of the UK’s youngest MDs at the tender age of 17, says he made an effort to make contacts and learn about the industry whenever he could while growing up.
“I would always go out of my way to connect with relevant people on LinkedIn or watch documentaries on the sectors which excited me most, then go and email the people who were interviewed in the documentaries,” he says.
“Nowadays a portfolio, contacts and experience can often get you further than a traditional CV. Five or so years ago everyone wrote the same style of CV and a generic cover letter, now the most important thing is to stick out and show employers why you are the one, don’t make them read the same phrases they read on previous applications.
Copeland’s MP, Trudy Harrison is a great believer in apprenticeships and practical experience, she said: “Apprenticeships are the tried and tested model for delivering qualified, experienced professionals into the world of work. I would recommend them to any one at any stage of their career journey.
“Placements and work experience can provide a hands-on insight into many fields of work. This can really make you stand out from the crowd when applying for employment and education opportunities.
“Since 2010, we have delivered 4.75 million apprenticeships across the UK. In our area we have a proud history of delivering world-class programmes, in this time 8,330 apprenticeships were undertaken in Copeland.”
An increasing number of young people want to run their own companies, with a recent Nielsen study suggesting around 54% of Gen Z want to start their own business. Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg are said to be amongst some of the most influential entrepreneurs for young people.
“I don’t think enough schools and educational institutes are talking about going into business or championing those who want to; it’s often about going and getting your grades, getting a job and being hired to fulfil someone else’s dreams.”
Oliver added: “So many young people have passion and ideas aplenty, we need to explore other opportunities and champion diverse career routes. My message to the teens soon to open their results is that it won’t define you, only you can make yourself a success, go chase those dreams!”