In a week long initiative, Portsmouth High School invited back recently left alumnae to talk to the girls about their, sometimes not straight forward, journey to where they currently are in their careers. In morning assemblies, aptly named ‘Girls Like You’, the senior school heard experiences from alumnae and what they had learned at Portsmouth High School to help them with their choices.
Mrs Sammy Davies, Head of Careers at Portsmouth High School said:
‘We tell the girls here that they are embarking on a life of careers rather than a career for life. It is truly inspiring to have the alumnae return during National Careers Week, as young women in a range of formidable careers.’
The first morning saw Ellie Webb and Bria Grange from the Class of 2015 talking to the girls. Ellie, Head Girl in 2015 is currently pursuing a career with the British Army. She is due to commission from Sandhurst in April having left school and reading International Relations at Exeter University. She described Sandhurst as ‘Hogwarts with guns’.
‘Use all the skills and opportunities you are given at PHS,’ she said. ‘And be part of something bigger than yourself.’
Bria Grange, Deputy Head Girl from the same year left PHS and went on a gap year before going to Bristol University to read Geography. Bria is currently working for the Met Office in Cyprus as an operational meteorological technician. ‘Enjoy your teaching and being taught. I am having to self-teach my maths now and believe me it is not the same as having the wonderful PHS teachers. I miss them all.’
On Wednesday morning, Sophie Stevens, another Deputy Head Girl from Ellie and Bria’s year told the girls:
‘Fully embrace the life at PHS. It’s okay to say something isn’t for you and make a change. It is never too late to change your path and always believe in yourself.’
Sophie left PHS thinking she wanted to be an actress but her path took her to a career in law. She is now training to be a criminal barrister.
Flo Evans, who left in 2014, went to the University of Bath and read Biology. Flo is now working as Head of Marketing for Acumen in London. ‘Work hard at school because that gives you choices,’ she told the girls.
The next day bought Daisy Turnbull, Deputy Head Girl from the Class of 2016 and Millie Ansell, from the Class of 2019 back to school.
Daisy is a Maritime Archaeologist; ‘If you are offered placements, grab them with both hands as they are invaluable.’
She took up work experience with Portsmouth High School Partners in Education, The Mary Rose Museum during her time at school and whilst at the University of Southampton and spent time with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. She is has worked with MAP on an underwater project in The Black Sea and was part of the team who discovered the oldest, intact medieval vessel discovered. She is currently with Wessex Archaeology.
Millie is a Cultural Affairs Intern at Portsmouth City Council. She started university but found the course was just not for her. Having interned previously with Portsmouth City Council she approached them again and was immediately offered a job;
‘It is not the end of the world if it doesn’t go according to plan,’ she said. ‘Keep all your options open.’
The final day, Friday, saw Connie Cha, Deputy Head Girl from the Class of 2007 return, alongside Eleanor Wheeler, from the Class of 2015.
Connie left PHS and first went to drama school. Several years on and via a non-linear route from setting up her own business, Tax Forward, and working with Deloitte, she is now Head of Finance for Eve Sleep.
‘I enjoy being an accountant as it gives you an insight into the business of businesses,’ she said. ‘No experience is ever wasted.’
Eleanor left PHS in 2015 having loved working behind the scenes at PHS drama productions. Eleanor is now a television camera operator for ITV London.
‘I would never have even got an interview had I not taken all the work experience and unpaid internships that I was offered. Now my days are spent shooting footage for ITV News at 6.00pm; from parakeets in London to red-carpet events in the evenings, via politicians in the middle of the day.’
‘The common theme,’ said Headmistress, Mrs Jane Prescott, ‘is for the girls to grasp every opportunity given to them and that life and work can take a series of different routes which you could never envisage.
‘To give our girls an insight into some of the careers and opportunities that recent leavers have experienced is very inspiring for them. They are girls who have recently sat through exams and university applications and now find themselves in the world of work. We are so grateful to our alumnae who stay in touch with us regularly and spare the time to return to school to talk to the girls.’