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An Open Letter to my 16-Year Old Self

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Dear Lisa,

Making career decisions so young isn’t easy, you’ll soon learn this. You feel like you’re in a battle between your head and your heart; you dream of going into construction, but “this isn’t a woman’s job”.

You enjoy school, although academia isn’t your strong point. There’s no one to offer real advice or support about your career options or next steps. The pressures of exams, as well as the challenges you face being a young carer, mean you feel you have no choice but to follow a traditional ‘feminine’ route and study childcare at college. You ignore your gut and choose not to follow your heart, merely because you aren’t shown how to.

A career in childcare isn’t what you’re destined to do – and you know that. You really want to follow your ambitions and work in construction. Spending Saturdays as a teen being Dad’s right-hand woman on the building site makes you want to follow in his footsteps, but you’re told this isn’t ‘womanly, graceful or achievable.’ It frustrates you – why can’t you start an apprenticeship in construction like some of your male friends? They’re getting qualifications doing a job they love, getting paid. You just wish you were told that as a woman, you could do the same.

When you’re 22, you’ll challenge that advice, you’ll start to re-evaluate your decisions and realise that you can offer so much more to the world. Through small steps, small-scale renovations, you’ll begin to blossom and build your career in the way you want to. You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked before, but you’ll love every minute. You don’t know it yet but this hard work, these backyard projects will soon transform into multi-million-pound international contracts. Trust me, don’t give up, those long hours you’ll put in will be worth it.

Would you believe in twenty years’ time your dream of driving supercars will come true? You’ll become the first owner of a pink Maserati in the UK, drive a world exclusive pink McLaren and live in your dream home by the sea! Hearing the subtle sound of the waves from your back garden was a utopia, it will soon become an actuality. But with this success, remember to remain true to yourself.

Many people will walk into your life; some will be a blessing, whilst others will undermine you. People will question your credibility, your value, your status. Some will find it hard to accept your position in construction as a young, ambitious woman. These hurdles though, will mould you into the strong woman you will eventually become. It will make you determined to challenge stereotypes and prove your worth. After all, authenticity is an invaluable gift – don’t forget that.

The fear of failure will be daunting, but you’ll rise to the challenge. You’ll question your ability daily but learn to work with like-minded people: surround yourself with positive individuals who believe you can.

Your experiences will motivate you to make a positive difference in the lives of others, showing young people that they can pursue their passion. You’ll look back at the challenges you faced as a woman, as a professional, and respond by helping others. Sharing your accomplishments to help inspire young people will motivate you, you’ll offer training to women who want to go into construction, so they aren’t held back by the same tired stereotypes you were. You still wish you’d been encouraged to chase your dreams and do an apprenticeship, so you’re determined others are given the right guidance on how to start successful careers in a job they love. However, never regret any of your decisions: life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

Right now, you may not see your worth in the world, but hold your head high; you’ll soon learn how to write your own story. You’ll have ups and downs; your plans will change; people will disappoint you, and you’ll face endless hurdles. But remember, you are your own superpower – believe in yourself and you will achieve your goals. Trust me.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

For more information about becoming an apprentice visit: gov.wales/apprenticeshipswales

For more information about hiring an apprentice visit: businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/

Visit Prentisiaethau Cymru / Apprenticeships Cymru on Facebook or @apprenticewales on Twitter and follow the story using the hashtag #AWWales.

LLYTHYR I FI FY HUN YN 16 OED

LISA MARIE BROWN