As you will know if you read my recent blog Why Uni still isnt’t for me that I am still not considering going to uni. I recently decided that it would be great to share other peoples stories about why they didn’t go to uni. This also meant I could learn about others amazing journeys they have had in the career so far. So here is the first one, with one of my amazing best friends, Josh and why Josh didn’t go to uni?

How do you know me?

We worked together during our time at PGL. Somehow managed to keep in touch since we both left nearly 4 years ago! I’m proud to say that you’re one of my best friends and I hope it stays that way for a long time to come!

The two of us at an end of season party

Current job?

Full title? (You might regret that…)
Leading Engineering Technician (Weapons Engineering) (Communications and Information Systems) (Technician) Royal Navy – Currently assigned to HMS Prince of Wales as the Secret Internal Network & CCTV Maintainer.

In short, currently serving in the Royal Navy and I work on HMS Prince of Wales (PofW) as the Secret Networks maintainer.

What does that mean you do?

So I operate, maintain, diagnose and repair one of the computer networks on PofW. That means that I have to program stuff, electrical repairs, and set up the network so that it works for what the captain wants.

Would you recommend joining the navy?

Umm, it entirely depends on what your priorities are. If you want that cutesy family thing, or you have long term commitments, then no, join the RAF instead (they do less stuff but you get similar benefits) . If you are willing to give up a big chunk of your life in exchange for something else, then go mad, you’ll have a blast.

Best job you have had?

I haven’t had many, but I would have to say that my current job is the best so far. I’ve got to see a lot of places that I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to. Including New York to name one. I have also got to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done. Like rode in a helicopter for example. I’ve also met some of the most amazing people along the way and made some lifelong friends. If they see that I’ve said that I’ll never live it down.

Looking smart in your navy uniform

Worst job you have had?

Again, I haven’t had many, so this is quite difficult. I wouldn’t say that I have one “worst job”; rather I’ve had some bad experiences in several jobs.

When I worked as bartender (very briefly), it was generally OK but New Years Eve sucked. Hand on heart the worst day I ever had in that job. Working 14 hours straight, I was exhausted and having abuse hurled at me by drunken idiots. So yeah, that was rough. But overall, the job was alright.

As a more general thing, when I worked in a Computer Repair Shop as an Assistant Technician, straight out of school. I didn’t have the social skills or the “backbone” that I have now, so I spent 2 and a half years working there being underappreciated and underpaid. Anything good I did ended up being my manager’s doing, and anything bad he did ended up being my fault. I was new to jobs, so I just took it. Assuming that was how jobs were, until I was informed otherwise and promptly left.

Again, bad experiences at PGL, we were basically treated like numbers in a database for most of my second year (not the year I worked with you). No-one seemed to care about who we actually were. A lot of my friends had moved up into management and didn’t seem to have time for those they left behind anymore. It made the whole environment a bit toxic. Having said that, I am still friends with a lot of those people and there are still a few who I try to remain in contact with as best I can.

Do you have a dream job?

Dream job is a tricky one. I wouldn’t really say that I have a dream job per se. I have an idea of where I want to be in 30 years and how I get there is largely immaterial. I want to be entirely self-supportive – no debts, no managers, no one to report to. I’ve wanted that since the first days of joining the military. The whole environment breeds order-following and I know that I can’t do that forever; I don’t plan to at least. When the day comes that I’ve had enough or that I feel like I can make more progress to my grand plan outside of the military. That’s when I’ll leave. For now, I’m content to keep getting them to pay for courses and qualifications that will set me up later. Hopefully this will allow me to achieve my dream.

Why didn’t you go to uni?

I suppose I was encouraged to not go in a way. It sounds silly saying it, especially when you consider the environment, I was brought up in. My dad has two degrees. My brother had already left for uni when it was my turn to decide and was part way towards a master’s degree (now headed squarely for a PhD). My twin sister had all her goals set out in front of her for the next 5 years, which included getting a master’s degree.

Josh with his brother and twin sister

When I was asked to sit and think about what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to get there, it became pretty clear that uni wasn’t where I was supposed to be at that time. Both my parents, plus my teachers, said that I should maybe wait a year or so, and then decide. I put some thought into it during my last year at school, but it never really appealed to me fully. I wanted to experience the social side of uni, but not do the work… and that kind of defeats the point.

After 6 months of “waiting”, I already knew it wasn’t for me. I would have spent most of first year drunk and/or hungover. Then been so far behind that I either dropped out or ended up worse off than when I started.

Besides, it’s always been my thing to buck the trend that my family set. Someone’s got to be the black sheep, right?

Did you find that the school put on a lot of pressure for you to go to uni?

Not really, they just separated the ones that wanted to go and the rest of us. There was only about 5 that didn’t want to go. The uni lot spent most of their “tutor time” researching universities, doing UCAS applications, picking subjects and blah blah blah. We spent most of that time doing other stuff. Initially it was, “Find something that you are actually going to do after school”. This then that turned into, “Study for your other lessons”. Which eventually fell apart completely and we sacked off the whole thing.

I never felt pressured into uni, but I do feel that more support towards what the other options are would’ve been helpful.

Have you ever thought about going to uni since leaving school?

I briefly considered it after I left PGL, but then the military came bundling into my life. The option is there for me to get a military-funded degree, so why pay for it myself? If I hadn’t joined up, I’d say it’s likely that I’d have gone to uni. However it would’ve been a lot later, so who really knows?

Do you think you might go in the future?

If the Navy want to pay for me to get a degree in Electronic Engineering or something like that? Then they can go mad. If they pay, I’ll do it. But honestly, experience and industry qualifications seem to be a lot more valuable now that I’m out in the real world.

If you were going to go to uni, what would you study and why?

When I was researching going to uni, I was always interested in Computer Science. It’s something that has always interested me, and still does. I have a special affinity for computers that I always like to use. I suppose my current interests are a bit more specific. I enjoy Networking in my current job, and I’m also dabbling in some Graphic and Web Design (as part of a friend’s new business venture) so I’d maybe like to see how that would fit in.

What advice would you give to yourself in your last year of school regarding work/uni?

I left school in 2015 and EVERYONE seemed to be going to uni. I think my advice for myself would be to not follow the crowd. Listen to what I want and think for myself. That advice and general mantra has done me well in recent years so it makes sense that it would do then too.

Kayaking with the navy

What advice would you give someone who doesn’t know if uni is for them?

At the end of the day, you must do what makes you happy. It might not earn you millions, but if you can go to bed with a smile on your face at the end of the day, then that’s all that matters.

So that is why Josh didn’t go to uni

As always thank you for reading my blog. If you would like to feature in my blog for having smashed the career ladder without going to uni please let me know! Don’t forget to subscribe below to never miss a new blog. If you have any questions for Josh please leave them below and I will ask him for you!