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The road to success: Life is a bumpy ride - focus on the opportunities

To encourage students to make the most of the school holidays by resting, thinking about career opportunities and helping the community.

by Hannah Knight

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage students to make the most of the school holidays by resting, thinking about career opportunities and helping the community.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly probably contains enough suggestions to be subdivided into two held during one week.
  • Prepare a PowerPoint presentation, including relevant images. See the following suggestions for the title page:
    – quotes from Mark Zuckerbourg, founder of Facebook at:
    – images of Sir James Dyson, founder of Dyson, known for its cyclone technology vacuum cleaners, at:
  • Also find examples of helpful websites regarding work experience – nationally, such as the following BBC one, shown below, and locally, finding ones that are pertinent to your students:
  • Gather some images of inspiring celebrities and have the means to display them during the assembly, such as Jamie Oliver, David Beckham, Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Ennis, JK Rowling, Kate Winslet, Adele, David Attenborough, Steven Hawkins, Trevor McDonald.
  • Find an image of Alan Sugar on the programme The Apprentice.
  • Have ready to show the web address of the Prince’s Trust for the assembly, which is:
  • Also have ready to show in the assembly the following video of the enterprising girl in the HSBC advert, at: and the lady who has made satchels trendy, at:


  1. Thinking about our future career path can be a scary business, especially in today's competitive climate. Ask the students to put their hands up if they are really anxious about their future career. Also ask them to put their hands up if they are unsure of what job they want to do.

    The students will then be able to see that they are all in the same boat – we all get anxious about careers. Although some people may know exactly what they want to do in life and when they want to accomplish it, for others it remains a mystery until later on in life.
  2. Advise them to not panic. Say to them that if their mums and dads ask them what subjects they are going to take at GCSE and they have no idea, they shouldn’t panic. If they have finished their GCSEs and are struggling to narrow down their choices and decide which A levels to do, they shouldn’t panic. If all their friends are set on particular careers and they feel like the odd one out because they’re not, they shouldn’t panic. It is times like this that we should take a deep breath instead of pulling out our hair strand by strand.

    Tell them how careers are like a jigsaw puzzle – they may be missing a few pieces, but they have plenty of time to figure out what they want to do and do it.
  3. When it comes to careers, it is always a good idea to talk to those close to them. Sometimes students will not be fully aware of their potential and choose to not pursue something in case they fail. So, advise them to ask around. They could ask their teachers, relatives, close friends or career advisers. They may recognize strengths in the students that they never knew they had. Maybe they are superb communicators or have great time-keeping skills.

    If they are interested in a certain career and one of their relatives knows someone who works in that field, it could provide a great opportunity to find out more about the job. The students could ask them what subjects they studied, what skills are needed for the role, what the job involves and so on. Impress on the students that they’ll never know if they don't ask.
  4. It is very important that the students understand their personality traits as this can be a good indicator of what careers they will be suited to. For example, maybe they love helping people. They could then consider a career in the public health sector. Maybe they strive to succeed and have the ability to think of ideas at the drop of a hat, so could consider becoming a product designer.

    It’s all about distinguishing what their strengths and weaknesses are and then building on them. It might be a good idea to make a noticeboard for their bedroom and, using coloured sticky notes and decorations, keep track of what things they’re good at and not so good at and set themselves goals for improving their skills. For instance, they could write 'Improve teamworking skills'. They could then scribble next to this goal how to achieve it, such as 'volunteer at a school lunch club or join a sports team'.
  5. Ask the students what they think of when they hear the words 'summer holidays?' They will probably say ‘sunshine’, ‘ice-cream’, ‘hanging out with my mates’, but, most of all, you can tell them that you expect they are excited about not having to do any work for six weeks and you don't blame them! Not only is the summer a great time to chill out but it’s also a great opportunity for reflection. Wouldn't it be great if they could increase their chances of getting the job they want in the summer holidays, when they will not be bombarded with homework, exams and making sure they get to lessons on time? They can do it in their own time and, best of all, can make it fun! Employers want people who go the extra mile, so a little time spent wisely could make them stand out.
  6. Explain that a lot of people shudder at the thought of work experience, purely because of the 'not being paid’ part. What a lot of people don't know is that work experience is the single best thing you can do when you are studying. Employers like to recruit people with relevant experience, so what better way to get some without jeopardizing their studies than work experience during the summer?

    So, they may ask, what are the benefits of work experience? You can point out that, for one, they will pick up valuable transferable skills on the job. This could include skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, using their initiative and practical hands on experience. Not only will they gain experience but they will also be helping their community. Show the students the section on the BBC’s website devoted to work experience and the other information about local opportunities you gathered when preparing for the assembly (see above).
  7. Show the pictures of inspiring celebrities you gathered above.

    Say that reading doesn't have to be a bore. There are lots of inspiring novels and biographies out there that are worth taking advantage of. For instance, if some of the students are interested in becoming chefs, they could read the biographies of Jamie Oliver, Michel Roux Jnr, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith and begin to follow in their footsteps. Before they know it, they might be making soufflés in the top restaurants in London.
  8. Show the image of Alan Sugar you prepared above. Then, ask the students, ‘Would you like to be the big boss and have your own business one day?’ Suggest that they and their friends get together and draw up a mind map of possible business opportunities. Whether its selling homemade cakes, making cards or, if they are feeling really confident and have a unique idea for a business, look at the Prince’s Trust website and see if they can be funded for their idea! Show the web address for the Prince’s Trust. Show also the video of the HSBC advert mentioned above.
  9. Ask the students, ‘What's the first thing you do when you go on the Internet?’ Say that you bet many people in this room would say Facebook or other social media. Ask them to, when they are next on the Internet, take a little time to do some research.

    Search engines are tools for researching relevant information from all over the world – literally. Students should take advantage of it and research careers. For example, if they wanted to be a journalist, they could watch YouTube videos of successful journalists, listen to helpful podcasts, research university and other courses, communicate with other journalists via blogs, ask for advice or even upload their very own articles. Show the video of the lady who has made satchels trendy mentioned above.

Time for reflection

Make this summer count! The next time someone asks you what you want to be when you are older, tell them you may not know what job you want to pursue, but you certainly will be prepared when the time comes.

Dear Lord,
Please continue to guide us, love us and teach us.


‘You're free’ by Yomanda

Publication date: July 2013   (Vol.15 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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