My name is Luke, I'm 19 years old, and I'm an Apprentice for Unit Twenty Three...time to look back at my past (again).
Being autistic and in the closet (plus being a general teenager overall), I didn't really see myself in a particular career or job, nor any place in society (depressing, I know) as I was growing up. I was a bit reluctant to try new things as I was so used to the same old routine; home, school, home, stay at home at weekends, home, school. I didn't really have much of a social life as a result because I was too scared.
If I must be honest, I never really had much of a creative background either. Of course, as a child I'd love to paint and write and sing, but I never really focused on one specific art form. I absolutely loved writing, but I wanted to do all kinds of things, especially more visual stuff, hence why I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades at times.
However, when I was 13/14, I became more focused on music - rock music of course, being an angsty teen. I was listening to bands like Funeral for a Friend, My Chemical Romance and Black Veil Brides (they were a phase - don't judge me) because I started to become disillusioned with mainstream pop music as I couldn't relate to it, and naturally I wanted something different. I still didn't consider a music or arts career at this point because I wasn't really showed any related career options in my school - it was mainly science and public duty, and maybe the odd graphic design career option, and as a result I felt like I didn't have a place in the world of work.
So I was left dragging myself through my GCSEs and A Levels with all this creativity inside of me, a diversifying music taste and having no idea what to do with any of it. I was generally fed up of studying and making difficult decisions regarding my future. At the end of my A Levels, I spend weeks and weeks looking for entry-level jobs, worried that I'll never find a suitable career for me.
However, upon looking for apprenticeships on the Gov.uk website, I noticed a Projects Assistant role being advertised, offering a Level 3 Community Arts Management qualification. I had a snoop around, became interested, applied for the job. One month later, I got the interview and then I got the job!
It was the best thing that happened to me when I joined Unit Twenty Three. By also doing a Gold Arts Award and joining the Arts Award Youth Network, it's really helped me to discover a whole load of opportunities to work in the arts sector and made me understand what I want to do in life. I am now considering music journalism as a potential career, but I could also be a Projects Manager, I could work with different communities; I could do so many things that involve the arts.
Therefore, my advice is this: If, like me, you have no idea what you want to do for a career, then focus upon your interests and passions. If there is something that you are particularly passionate about, but you don't know if there's a career for you, then do your research. Find as many ways as possible for you to get into your desired industry, but don't look for a specific job role just yet - be passionate about the industry, look for work experience and be open-minded about the roles that will suit you. You never know - you may just land a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!