Rosie Wainwright, Outstanding Individual award winner at the Festival of Learning, speaks on the importance of education and finding a career path you can be proud of.
I had a quite turbulent upbringing, which meant I was mostly raised by my grandparents, but when they passed away I went into foster care. Because of this I moved around a fair bit and attended 2 or 3 different colleges where I ended up failing quite a lot.
I then moved to Lewisham college, it was here that I took part in the Career Ready Programme, through networking with professionals during my internship and decided to attend university. A college alumni also came in to talk to us and it really interested me in university as an option.
The experiences of further education allow you to keep your options open.
Helena Kennedy Foundation bursary
Bursaries were not widely discussed when I was at college, and I was unaware of the support you could get outside of the universities with support for care leavers.
I discovered the Foundation through one of my teachers as she mentioned that I would be eligible. So I looked it up and applied, but unfortunately I was too late.
Later on they got back in contact to say they had found a bursary for me - sponsored by Kaplan. This gave me the option to still think about going to university and helped ease the burden of financial worries.
Finding the right path
I studied Law at university. I chose this following a law module in my course at college, which made me want to learn more and see how the world worked. I had a particular interest in family law as I wanted to help people.
Law turned out not to be what I had initially thought it was, however, but I knew it was a good path to other opportunities. What I had learned didn't limit my options, as I could still apply my skills to other industries. It was still a good degree to have.
After university I got the opportunity to go to New York and work as a Compliance Analyst in a financial institution. This was a great experience, but I realised it wasn’t something I was passionate about, and that my passion lies with having an impact, making a difference and having the option to help others.
Building a strong career
So I moved back and started working at my former university, in the Widening Participation Team. During this time I completed a Post Graduate degree in International Business Law, whilst also volunteering with Career Ready as a mentor.
After two years working at the University, I turned my voluntary role at Career Ready into employment working as a Regional Manager in the London Team. This job allowed me to help make a difference as the position meant I was linking young people with employers. During my employment, I continued with education through completing a Level 5 coaching qualification with Evolve College.
I was finally really enjoying myself but knew that it could be hard to progress within the charity sector. So in order to create a stronger career path for myself, I began looking for a new challenge. I found a more senior role with PA Consulting where I would be able to really impact change, and I got it!
In this new role as a Consultant Analyst, from mid-November I will be working within the People and Change Capability, with an alignment to Public Services. I can see a clear path for progression with this role and I am excited about this new challenge (becoming a consultant).
The importance of education
It doesn't matter what you study, the experiences of further education allows you to keep your options open and helps you gain opportunities to network and meet so many different people.
Education has to continue, university isn't the end, it's the beginning. I wouldn't be where I am today without it. I would never have been able to work in New York or have the jobs that I have had.
Wherever you start your career, putting yourself out there, trying things and meeting new people from different backgrounds is all valuable. All these experiences help you decide what you ultimately want to do and who you are.
Find out more
Rosie’s inspirational success is another one of our student stories we are very proud of. We are here to make a difference to EVERY learner. Read more about our work partnering with charitable organisations to help make a difference.