Andrew Craig

About me

I currently work for Openreach as a complex planner. This involves co-ordinating civils, traffic management and auxiliary works tasks for our field engineers to provide residents, business and government network services as well as expanding radio coverage (that’s the signal you have your phone).

Left school

June 2013.

Senior Phase

I achieved Higher (SCQF level 6) English, Modern Studies, Business Management, Chemistry, Biology and Computing.

Choosing my Destination

I left school with absolutely nothing set up. I was planning on going straight into any full time work I could get my hands on. My mum however foresaw a long career on the dole and an entire summer wasted on an Xbox and hanging about with friends (she probably wasn’t wrong!). So I went down in late august to Skills Development Scotland in the Upper Craig’s and they were fantastic at helping me to figure out a plan and letting me know that even though I had left it very late that there were still course options available to me.

Extra Curricular & Work Experience

I didn’t really do any that would be described as valuable other than the one week of compulsory work experience in 4th year. In my opinion, and don’t take this as gospel, but for those who are planning to go to college or university you will have more time to gain these experiences. Particularly those who are going to uni will find that they are very well set up with these opportunities but you must be proactive enough to do them! 

Skills I've developed

The two most important skills I have developed are my communication and problem solving skills. They are vitally important in the modern workplace now with the rise of AI and machine learning as these are skills which cannot be truly replaced by machines and software. I briefly spent some time working in a call centre as a sales and retentions advisor (I would not recommend this as a career path) which meant that I spent a lot of time having very difficult conversations with people. These people were often dealing with the normal hardships in life at the time (deaths/divorce/sudden unemployment). I found that having the ability to actually listen and understand would often defuse any animosity. From there good communication was not always about agreeing with what the rights of a situation were but instead providing them with clear and defined options which then could then chose from. In my current role I use this ability often. The real key with communicating is that people don’t always have to agree with each other but they do have to clearly understand each other and there positions. If you can achieve this then you can negotiate a way forward - if you don’t then misunderstanding almost always leads to anger (and occasionally shouting and swearing).

My Advice

Be curious and learn as much as you can. Learn everything (not just school subjects). If you have hobbies or interests really dive down into the how and why’s of it. With the vast expansion of the internet and podcasts since my youth this is now easier than ever and being in the habit of learning is infectious. If you do it with topics that interest you then you’ll develop the skills needed to study that other things that are necessary but possibly not as exciting.

I am dyslexic but it has never held me back - you learn to adapt and realise that opportunities are there for everyone - you just need to grab them.

I think for younger pupils who have a bit more time to prepare for the unending slog that is working life my advice would be that working life can be very rewarding but it is not everything. The key is to find work that you like and then to become as skilled as you can at it. Look at as many different types of work that interest you as possible and then really think about what it involves and if that’s something you are prepared to do. For example I know many people who wanted to leave school and become police officers (some even did so) but the reality of the long shifts and often being required to stay on after your normal finishing time impacts their work/life balance too heavily . Some people love these type of jobs so much that this is not an issue about you need to think about whether you are really that person or not. In the modern world it is relatively easy to move careers so you will never be stuck in a job, but try on as many hats as you can before you need to do it for real.  

As a last bit of advice, often the things that will take you far in life and work are the things you bring with you from home. Being kind, being honest and having an appetite to give whatever work you do your all. These are the things which will win in the long run, you will often see people step and climb over others in the workplace to try and “race to the top” but in the long run ego and a bad attitude will lead to failure.