How a gap year can help you get focused

Sam McGuirk is an inspirational young person who has really grabbed the opportunities around him to make the most of his education and career.  Now a founder of a really great app – Car Guru Sam talks us through his eureka moment.

Sam began his journey at Leeds Metropolitan University. Having completed his education in Liverpool, he enrolled to do Business & HR Management as his BA Hons degree. It’s fair to say for the first two years he was far more about the personal development in a social context than academic development in an educational context. He thoroughly enjoyed his experience, but used his third year to do a work placement with a telecommunications provider- Telent.

“My year with Telent was the best move I have ever made. It taught me how tough the real world can be, it provided me the opportunity to take my learnings at university and practice them in a business environment where real consequence comes to fruition, this is hard to picture through a case study. I learnt very quickly how many talented, hardworking and committed people there are in the world, but I also learnt that coming out of University with a degree is fast becoming a tick in the box”.

With this Sam returned to his final year with a completely different perspective, he became the Business School academic representative where he chaired and hosted employability development for fellow students. He quickly learnt the ability to take “core competencies” and translate these into practical skills are key to demonstrating to any potential employers that you can add REAL value to their business. “The challenge when you’re a student is an interview. The truth is when you are a graduate you have no hard work experience to discuss or use as examples, this si why I emphasise to students the importance of grabbing opportunities where they arise. When I was at university it would have been far easier to play FIFA with my friends, than to go to campus and host employability workshops to other students career hunting. BUT, when I was in interviews, it gave me substance behind my responses. It gave me the ability to stand out from the masses, I understood very quickly the importance of statistics. When I graduated 1 in 42 graduates achieved a graduate scheme. Now, it is 1 in 45. The trajectory of this number concerns me because it means true talent can be missed by tick box exercises, which is why it is so important students recognise the necessity for a competitive attitude”.

Sam landed a graduate scheme with a FTSE 100 business, and within 1 year was promoted to a senior management position at London Heathrow Airport. This was thew first time that the business had made such a senior promotion to a graduate. “My success in my graduate scheme was down to three characteristics I adopted every day:

  1. Have integrity in everything that you do, people will see right through you if not.
  2. Work hard, only you can define hard work, and you will know if you are meeting it.
  3. Be emotionally intelligent, understand people, environment and impact of all of your actions.

Sam was a senior manager for over a year, and now is a senior manager with a FTSE 100 financial firm. All of this demonstrates his drive, passion and commitment, but his real hobby is entrepreneurship. Laura Jane Rawling first met Sam in 2012 in London. He made contact with Laura because he was a huge ambassador for the work YEUK do. “When I first met Laura I instantly recognised the mission of YEUK was one I hold very close to my heart, giving young people a fighting chance. The economy and environment over the past 5 years has created an incredibly tough landscape to land exciting and challenging jobs. But, I am a huge believer in putting hard hours into understanding employer’s needs is key to success. The first thing I did when I started applying for jobs was to video record myself during an interview. By doing this you understand your professional persona, and it gives you the room to develop, rehearse and shape the employability of you during the interview itself. I have always strived to understand myself, my strengths but most of all my weaknesses”.

Sam’s latest venture on top of his job, is Car Guru, a customer focused application he believes will change the way people look at car ownership- “Car Guru is the most customer centric Application for car owners in the UK, it changes the way we think of car ownership, and is a venture that is ultimately a market changer!”

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