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National Apprenticeship Week - What would NW business leaders say to their 17-year-old selves?

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, seven successful entrepreneurs are offering advice to their 17-year-old selves to help inspire those young people looking to get on the career ladder.

As members of the advisory panel at The Juice Academy – the UK’s first industry-led social media apprenticeship – or employers of the Academy’s apprentices, the spokespeople are well-placed to pass on their nuggets of knowledge.

“I would say hold onto your dreams and keep your goal in sight, because with some determination and commitment, you can get there. Don't listen to those that try to take you off course or knock your confidence. Oh and probably ditch the big hair… but then again, it was the 1980s!”

Amanda Coleman, head of corporate communications, Greater Manchester Police

“Get as much work experience in as many different businesses that you can. Work out what you want to do as a career but then take a gap year as a ski bum. When you get back go to education, keep trying new things before landing a job in your chosen sector then work your socks off to become the best in your field.”

William Lees-Jones, managing director, JW Lees

“If I met myself at 17 I'd say: ‘Stop worrying about everything so much! If you're lying awake at night, working yourself up into a lather about something – which I did at that age all the time – think to yourself: what's the worst that could happen? Then work through the scenario and you'll realise it's really not that bad. And, as you get more experience - yes, OK, turn into an old codger like me - you'll also realise that the thing you're worried about now, you probably won't even remember next week - honest!’

“I really enjoy my talks with The Juice Academy apprentices and I remind them that the only person responsible for their future happiness, success – or otherwise – is them. Life is what you make it but you should also learn what you can from the amazing people around you and try to enjoy it and take time to smell the roses as, yes, you might have a really bad perm at the moment (see photo) but you won't always!”

Sandy Lindsay, The Juice Academy founder and MD of Tangerine PR

“The point of getting out of life what you put in really strikes me as important when I look back at myself when I was 17 compared to my 32-year-old self now. It's not just in business or my career, but pretty much everything I've experienced in life. For example, I can count numerous times when I was 17 and playing football, where I would basically 'goal hand' and wait for the ball to come to me instead of running around the pitch trying to get the ball for myself to make something happen. Guess what – the ball rarely comes!”

David Parr, relationship director, Barclays

“Don't be afraid to do something different to your mates, in whatever sense. Have the courage to follow your heart. Live abroad, either studying or travelling – it will give you a better perspective for the rest of your life.

“Always have a part time job. Enjoy earning money to spend as frivolously as you like whilst learning social and work skills to help your future career.

“Have fun. Life's not just measured by the grades you achieve academically. Being a confident, socially-rounded individual can see you come up trumps more often in life than even the highest achiever.”

Rick Guttridge, managing director, Smoking Gun PR

“Do you know what? I’m not sure I would have told myself to do anything different than I did at 17. I truly believe that all the experiences that I have had throughout my career and life have led me to the path that I am on now. If there was to be one or two things, it would be that I wish I had kept up the running and been more attentive in English!”

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