There’s more to life than exam results

Collecting your exam results can be a nerve-wracking and stressful experience – feeling pressured to get the right grades for the course or career you want, meeting your family’s expectations, your pride and doubting you’ve made the right choices for the year ahead.

In the aftermath, some of you will be packing up your rooms and saying goodbye to your mum's cooking to leave for university. Others will be getting ready for their first day of college. But there will be a few of you sat in your room asking yourselves over and over, 'What am I going to do now?'.

We've all been there, and while it may not seem like it now, grades actually aren't the be all and end all. There are so many options out there to help you through this tricky time and to get you on your way to a successful career. Here’s some tips on how to survive the day and what you can do next.

1. Don't panic
It’s really easy to panic, especially if you received results you weren't expecting. Try to stay positive – you have a lot more going for you than you think. Take a deep breath and think about what you can do next. Do some research, see what others are doing and make a plan that works for you and stick to it.

2. Apply for some work experience
Work experience is a really great way to get an understanding of the real working world, especially in the industry that you're interested in. Employers value work experience just as much (maybe even more) than high grades. Whilst you’re there, make sure you ask questions to find out how people in the company made it to their role. You’ll more than likely find that exam results don't even come into the conversation!

3. Sign up for some volunteer work
Volunteering always looks good to potential employers and universities. A DofE survey of over 500 UK business leaders found that 86% look favourably on candidates who share evidence of volunteering on their social media. It shows passion and personality that employers are always looking for – that you’ve donated your time, energy and skills to help make a difference within a community or organisation.

Many of you will already have experienced volunteering as part of your DofE. However, you don’t have to stop once you’ve achieved your Award. There are so many different ways you can volunteer – from helping older people in a retirement home to working at an animal rescue centre. Before you decide where to go, however, think carefully about what you want to get from the experience. Which charity messages affect you most? Which causes or issues do you want to be involved with or learn more about? What are you going to enjoy most and what do you already have the skills to do? Read our blog for more advice on how volunteering can support your career and where to find the latest volunteer opportunities.

4. Meet new people and network
Ever heard the saying, 'It's not what you know, it's who you know?'. Go and talk to your family, friends' parents and parents' friends, learn about what people do and seek out new connections. You'll also learn that there are a lot of successful people out there who haven't got to their positions through conventional routes.

5. Perfect your CV
You might think you don't have much to add to your CV, but it really is what you make of your experiences. There’s so many transferable skills that you can gain from extracurricular activities, volunteering and out-of-classroom learning, like your DofE. Playing sports, learning an instrument and gaining experience in real working environments all show ‘soft’ skills, such as team work, creativity, communication and intuition. Take a step back and think about what skills you've learnt from doing your DofE and write them down.

If you're still really stuck, go out and do some activities that you can write and talk about. Remember: each skill you list should be backed up by a real life example of where you've demonstrated this. Our CV template can help you create a CV that shows future employers all your DofE skills and experience.

Once you’ve done all of this, then the world is your oyster.

For more advice on how to describe the skills you’ve gained through your DofE on your CV and applications, and how to talk about them at interviews, visit the LifeZone.

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