Staying Ahead of the Curve: Interconnected and Updated

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Unveiling Dynamic Contacts: Revolutionising How We Connect in the Digital Age

Introduction

In the digital age, our personal and professional networks have grown exponentially. We connect with people across various platforms – social media, professional networking sites, email, and more. However, managing these connections has become increasingly complex and challenging. This post explores the challenges of current contact management methods and discusses why dynamic contacts are the way forward.

The Static Problem

The primary issue with traditional contact management is its static nature. When individuals change their phone numbers, move houses, switch jobs, or update their email addresses, their contacts often lose touch due to outdated information. This leads to missed opportunities, weakened relationships, and a constant struggle to keep contact lists up-to-date.

Our connections are often platform-dependent. If you leave a social media platform or stop using a particular communication tool, you risk losing those contacts. This fragmentation of networks across different platforms makes it difficult to maintain a comprehensive and current contact list.

The Need for Dynamism

In contrast to static contact lists, dynamic contacts offer a solution to these problems. A dynamic contact list is one that automatically updates when changes occur. For example, if a contact changes their phone number or email address, this change is automatically reflected in your contact list.

Dynamic contacts also overcome the platform-dependency problem. They pull together contacts from various platforms into one centralised list. Even if a user leaves a social media platform or stops using a particular communication tool, their contacts on the dynamic list will still be able to stay connected with them.

The Future is Dynamic

Dynamic contacts are not just a nice-to-have feature; they are the future of contact management. As our lives become more digital and our networks more extensive, the need for dynamic contacts will only increase.

By providing an up-to-date and comprehensive view of our connections, dynamic contacts make it easier for us to stay in touch with the people who matter most to us. They save us time and effort in maintaining our contact lists and ensure that we never lose touch due to outdated information.

In conclusion, dynamic contacts represent the future of contact management. They address the challenges of static contact lists and platform-dependent networks by providing a centralised, up-to-date, and interconnected view of our connections. As we move forward into an increasingly digital and interconnected world, dynamic contacts will become an essential tool for staying connected.

Casting a Better Shadow. Reflections on Leadership and Navigating Back on Track

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Over the past few months, we have been swamped; during these times, it’s hard to self-reflect after a tough week that ended positively. I made time to reflect, reevaluate the plan, and move forward.

As a leader, it’s essential to remember that you cast a shadow. This shadow isn’t a tangible, physical one but a reflection of your actions, attitudes, and values. Just as a physical shadow is shaped by the light and its object, the shadow you cast as a leader is moulded by your actions and their effects on the team around you.

When you’re doing well, your shadow is a positive influence that motivates and inspires. But there are times when you may feel that your leadership shadow isn’t quite what it should be. Perhaps you’ve been under pressure, maybe you’ve made some mistakes, or perhaps you’re simply feeling burnt out. During these times, your shadow may seem to loom more darkly than you’d like. However, don’t despair. Every leader goes through such periods. The key is recognising the issue and taking steps to regain your footing.

Reflecting on the Shadows

The first step in getting back on track is self-reflection. It’s essential to understand the type of shadow you’re currently casting. Are your actions encouraging, fostering growth and togetherness, or are they creating a climate of fear or resentment? Your shadow directly impacts team morale, productivity, satisfaction, and often the outcomes you seek, so it’s crucial to be honest with yourself.

Consider gathering feedback from your team and peers. They can provide insights that you might have missed. Be open to this feedback; it’s a tool for growth, not a personal attack.

Mapping the Course Back

Once you understand the type of shadow you’re casting, it’s time to map your course back. This process may be challenging but also an opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Revisit your values: What do you stand for? What kind of leader do you want to be? These are questions you must answer. Your core values should guide your decisions and actions.

Set achievable goals: Instead of trying to change everything at once, focus on one or two key areas where you can make a difference. This will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and make tracking your progress easier.

Seek out a mentor or coach: This can be a more experienced leader within your organisation, a professional coach, or a trusted individual outside your professional sphere. They can provide guidance, encouragement, and a different perspective.

Practice emotional intelligence: Leaders must navigate their emotions and those of their team members. Understanding and managing your emotional responses can help you cast a more positive shadow. 

Creating a New Shadow

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Abraham Lincoln

As you shift your behaviours and attitudes, you’ll cast a new shadow that aligns with your values and the kind of leader you aspire to be. It will realign with you. It requires time, patience, and persistence.

Every leader faces moments of doubt, confusion, or even failure. What separates great leaders from the rest is the ability to acknowledge these moments, learn from them, and navigate back to the right path. In doing so, they cast a more positive shadow and demonstrate to their team that growth comes from adversity.

Remember, the shadow you cast as a leader is not just about you but also the team. When you work to improve, you’re bettering yourself and creating a better environment for those around you. So when you find yourself casting a shadow you’re not proud of, as I did this week, see it as an opportunity. It’s your chance to reflect, learn, and grow into the leader you can be.

Every day is a new opportunity to cast a better shadow. The steps you take towards self-improvement today will echo the positive impacts you make tomorrow. So take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and start the journey back on track – for yourself and your team.

How Project Teams Can Avoid Burnout While Working to a Tight Deadline and High Workload.

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Project teams are often faced with tight deadlines and high workloads, which can lead to burnout if not managed properly. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork. In this blog post, we’ll explore how project teams can avoid burnout while working to a tight deadline with a high workload over a sustained period.

  1. Set realistic goals and deadlines

Setting realistic goals and deadlines is crucial for avoiding burnout. Project teams should take the time to carefully plan the project, considering the resources available, the complexity of the project, and the time required to complete each task. Once a realistic project plan has been established, it’s important to communicate this plan to all team members and stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  1. Prioritize tasks and manage workload

With a high workload, it’s important for project teams to prioritize tasks and manage their workload effectively. Teams should identify the most critical tasks and allocate resources accordingly. They should also track their progress and adjust their workload as needed to ensure they stay on track.

  1. Encourage work-life balance

Encouraging work-life balance is essential for preventing burnout. Project teams should make sure that team members take regular breaks, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. It’s also important to encourage team members to engage in hobbies and activities outside of work to reduce stress and improve their overall well-being.

  1. Foster teamwork and communication

Fostering teamwork and communication is important for preventing burnout. Project teams should encourage open communication, collaboration, and support among team members. This can help team members feel more connected and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed or isolated.

  1. Recognize and celebrate achievements

Recognizing and celebrating achievements is important for boosting team morale and preventing burnout. Project teams should celebrate milestones and achievements throughout the project, no matter how small. This can help team members stay motivated and engaged, even during long periods of high workload.

  1. Take time off after the project

After the project is completed, it’s important for team members to take time off to rest and recharge. This can help prevent burnout and ensure that team members are ready for the next project.

Conclusion

Working to a tight deadline with a high workload can be stressful and challenging, but it doesn’t have to lead to burnout. By setting realistic goals and deadlines, prioritizing tasks and managing workload, encouraging work-life balance, fostering teamwork and communication, recognizing and celebrating achievements, and taking time off after the project, project teams can avoid burnout and maintain their productivity and well-being throughout the project.

Step by Step Plan for Project/ Program Managers :

  1. Develop a Realistic Project Plan: Start by developing a realistic project plan that considers the available resources, complexity of the project, and time required to complete each task. This plan should be based on data and take into account any external factors that could affect the project’s timeline.
  2. Allocate Resources: Allocate the necessary resources to each task and prioritize the most critical ones. This step will help ensure that each team member is working on the right task and has the appropriate resources to complete it.
  3. Set Expectations: Set clear expectations for each team member regarding their role, responsibilities, and performance. This step will help keep everyone accountable and avoid any confusion or miscommunication.
  4. Monitor Progress: Monitor progress regularly and adjust the workload as necessary to ensure that the project stays on track. This step will help the project team adapt to any unforeseen changes and make sure that they are not falling behind.
  5. Encourage Open Communication: Encourage open communication and collaboration among the project team. This step will help create a supportive and transparent environment where team members can share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.
  6. Celebrate Milestones: Celebrate milestones and achievements throughout the project to boost team morale and prevent burnout. This step will help the project team stay motivated and engaged throughout the project’s duration.
  7. Promote Work-Life Balance: Promote work-life balance by encouraging team members to take regular breaks, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. This step will help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  8. Evaluate the Project: Evaluate the project once it is complete to identify any areas for improvement and celebrate the project’s successes. This step will help the project team learn from their experiences and apply their newfound knowledge to future projects.

Growing Older in a Digital World: Maintaining Digital Presence and Addressing Challenges of Technology and Security

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Introduction
The growing use of technology and the increasing reliance on digital platforms have revolutionised how we live and communicate. As we age, the need to maintain our digital presence becomes more critical, especially as technology and security measures continue to evolve. This blog post explores the challenges of growing older in a digital world and the strategies we can adopt to maintain our online presence. It also examines the possibility of adding delegates to our online accounts and the implications for data protection measures such as GDPR.


Growing Older in a Digital World
As we grow older, our cognitive and physical abilities tend to decline, making navigating technology and security measures more challenging. This is particularly true for older people with limited technology experience or physical disabilities that make it harder to use digital devices. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, only 73% of adults aged 65 and older use the internet, compared to 99% of adults aged 18 to 29 (Perrin, 2019).

In addition to the challenges of using technology, older people are more vulnerable to cyber threats such as identity theft, phishing scams, and other forms of online fraud. This is because older adults tend to be more trusting and less aware of the risks of using digital platforms (Brooke & Ngwenyama, 2016).

Maintaining Digital Presence as We Age
Despite these challenges, it is essential to maintain our digital presence as we age. This is because digital platforms have become integral to our lives, allowing us to stay connected with family and friends, access information and services, and engage in online communities.

One strategy to maintain our digital presence is to adopt user-friendly technology designed specifically for older people. For example, there are now devices such as smartphones and tablets with larger screens, simplified interfaces, and voice assistants that can make it easier for older adults to use technology (Drewnowski & Rehm, 2018).

Another strategy is to stay informed about the latest security measures and cyber threats. This can involve taking online courses or attending workshops that provide information about online safety and security. It can also involve using multi-factor authentication and other security measures to protect our online accounts from unauthorised access (Zhang et al., 2018).


Adding Delegates to Online Accounts
Another solution that can help older people maintain their digital presence is to allow them to add delegates to their online accounts. Delegates are individuals authorised to access an account on behalf of the account holder. This can be particularly useful for older people who may have difficulty navigating security measures or need assistance managing their online accounts.

However, there are some potential challenges and implications for data protection measures such as GDPR. For example, allowing delegates to access personal data on behalf of an account holder raises questions about data ownership, consent, and accountability. It is essential to ensure that the account holder explicitly authorises any delegate access and that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data.


Conclusion
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain our digital presence, even as technology and security measures continue to evolve. Strategies such as using user-friendly technology, staying informed about cyber threats, and adding delegates to online accounts can help older people stay connected and engaged in a digital world. However, it is crucial to consider the implications of data protection measures such as GDPR and to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect personal data. Technology we design today must be forward thinking and work for us as we grow older, if we are developing products, applications, technologies or setting standards we have the responsibility to design for everyone.


References:
Brooke, J., & Ngwenyama, O. (2016). Age-related differences in information security awareness. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 568-578.

Drewnowski, A., & Rehm, C. D. (2018). The potential of technology to help older adults with socialisation. Current Opinion in Psychiatry,

Maximizing Meeting Effectiveness: Best Practices for Hosts and Participants

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A topic I love to talk about but it’s really difficult to solve for. Here are a few tips for more effective meetings. Being a host can be difficult especially when you don’t know the players involved. Meetings are a wonderful tool, the ability to get people together to collaborate really adds so much value.

However, despite their importance, meetings are often viewed as unproductive and time-wasting. According to a survey by Atlassian, employees attend an average of 62 meetings per month, half of which are considered ineffective. This often comes back to the host, we’ve all hosted poor meetings. Here are some ideas and best practices to help improve your meetings.

  1. Define clear goals and agenda: Before scheduling a meeting, define its purpose, goals, and objectives. A well-defined agenda helps participants prepare for the meeting, keeps the meeting on track, and ensures that essential topics are covered. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, setting clear objectives and agendas can increase meeting effectiveness by 46%.
  2.  Invite the right people: Inviting the right people to a meeting ensures that the discussion is relevant and productive. More participants can lead to long meetings and off-topic discussions. According to a survey by HBR, 67% of managers believe too many attendees are the most significant barrier to effective meetings. It is vital to identify key stakeholders and individuals who have relevant expertise and can provide valuable input. Don’t bring two people that play the same role, often it will lead to muddy expertise.
  3.  Use technology to enhance meetings: Technology can improve effectiveness in various ways, including video conferencing, screen sharing, and collaborative document editing. According to a survey by LogMeIn, 85% of respondents believe that technology positively impacts their ability to collaborate.
  4.  Encourage participation: Encouraging participation and creating a safe environment for participants to share their ideas and opinions can increase meeting effectiveness. According to a study by the University of San Francisco, meetings that allow for equal participation among attendees lead to better decisions and increased engagement.
  5.  Ensure adequate follow-up: Following up after a meeting ensures that action items are completed, and progress is made. According to a study by HBR, 75% of managers believe that post-meeting follow-up is critical to meeting effectiveness.
  6. Avoiding Regularly Scheduled Meetings: Regularly scheduled meetings, such as weekly team meetings, can become routine and unproductive over time. This can lead to a lack of progress and wasted time and resources. It is crucial to assess the need for a meeting before scheduling it and to consider alternative approaches, such as one-on-one conversations or ad-hoc meetings, when appropriate.

Regularly scheduled meetings and standing meetings can be valuable tools for businesses. Still, they may not always be the best approach. Here are some reasons why businesses may want to avoid these types of meetings:

  • They can become routine and unproductive: Regularly scheduled meetings can become routine and unproductive over time. Attendees may stop preparing adequately, and discussions may become repetitive and unengaging. This can lead to a lack of progress and wasted time and resources.
  •  They can limit flexibility: Standing and regularly scheduled meetings can restrict flexibility and make it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances or priorities. This can result in meetings being held unnecessarily or when they are no longer needed.
  •  They can be a time-waster: Regularly scheduled meetings can become a time-waster for attendees. Meetings that are held simply because they are scheduled rather than because there is a clear need for them can take away valuable time that could be spent on more important tasks.
  •  They may not be necessary: Some meetings may not require a fixed schedule or a regular cadence. Holding meetings only when a specific need or a clear objective can be more efficient and productive.
  •  They may not be inclusive: Regularly scheduled meetings can exclude people who cannot attend at the scheduled time, especially if they are not given the opportunity to provide input or feedback through other channels.

Conclusion

Effective meetings are critical to organisational communication and collaboration. By following best practices such as defining clear goals and agendas, inviting the right people, using technology, encouraging participation, and ensuring effective follow-up, organisations can improve meeting effectiveness and productivity. By doing so, organisations can save time and money while fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation.

References:

Atlassian. (2019). The cost of bad meetings [Infographic]. https://www.atlassian.com/time-wasting-at-work-infographic

Harvard Business Review. (2017). 5 ways to make your meetings more effective. https://hbr.org/2017/03/5-ways-to-make-your-meetings-more-effective

LogMeIn. (2019). Collaboration in the modern workplace. https://www.logmein.com/content/dam/LogMeIn/Files/Whitepapers/Collaboration-in-the-Modern-Workplace.pdf

University of San Francisco. (2014). Meeting best practices. https://www.usfca.edu/sites/default/files/lp-meeting-best-practices.pdf

Wrike. (2020). Meeting statistics: The ultimate list for meeting productivity. https://www.wrike.com/blog/meeting-statistics/

Doodle. (2019). The State of Meetings Report. https://meetings.hubspot.com/state-of-meetings-report

Harvard Business Review. (2017). Making Meetings Matter. https://hbr.org/2017/07/making-meetings-matter

The Impact of Truth Decay: How Sharing Inaccurate Content on Social Media Erodes Trust and Promotes Polarisation

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Sharing inaccurate content on social media can significantly impact people’s ability to differentiate between right and wrong. When individuals are repeatedly exposed to false information, they may begin to accept it as accurate, making it difficult to distinguish facts from fiction. This can result in individuals making decisions based on inaccurate information, leading to adverse outcomes.

Moreover, the more false information is shared on social media, the more it can contribute to a phenomenon known as “truth decay,” which is the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public discourse. This can lead to reduced trust in institutions, experts, and information sources, ultimately eroding democratic processes.

Sharing inaccurate content on social media can also contribute to the formation of echo chambers, where individuals only expose themselves to information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs and biases. This can lead to polarisation, further reducing the ability of individuals to objectively evaluate information.

In summary, sharing inaccurate content on social media can significantly impact people’s ability to tell right from wrong by leading to the acceptance of false information, contributing to truth decay, and promoting the formation of echo chambers. Fact-checking information before sharing it is essential to help combat these harmful effects.

What is Truth Decay?

Truth Decay is a term used to describe the decline in the quality and reliability of the information, the blurring of lines between opinion and fact, and a general erosion of trust in facts, institutions, and expertise. It is characterised by the spread of misinformation, the promotion of conspiracy theories, and a disregard for objective truth. While Truth Decay is not a new phenomenon, it has become more prevalent in recent years due to the proliferation of social media and the rise of populist movements.

Causes of Truth Decay

Several factors contribute to Truth Decay. The first is the democratisation of information through the internet and social media. While this has allowed for the dissemination of information on a global scale, it has also made it easier for false or misleading information to spread quickly.

The second cause is the increasing polarisation of society, which has led to a breakdown in trust in institutions, experts, and traditional news sources. This polarisation has also led to echo chambers, where individuals are only exposed to information confirming their pre-existing beliefs and biases.

The third cause of Truth Decay is the blurring of lines between opinion and fact. The rise of opinion-based news and commentary has made it more difficult for individuals to discern objective truth from biased reporting.

The Impact of Truth Decay

The impact of Truth Decay is far-reaching and can have significant negative consequences for individuals and society. One of the most significant impacts is the erosion of trust in democratic institutions. When individuals no longer trust the information being provided by these institutions, they may become disillusioned with the democratic process and disengage from it entirely.

Another impact of Truth Decay is the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation. This can lead to individuals making decisions based on false or misleading information, negatively affecting themselves and society.

Finally, Truth Decay can contribute to the breakdown of civil discourse, making it more difficult for individuals to have productive discussions and debates. When individuals are no longer operating from a shared set of facts, finding common ground or coming to a consensus can be challenging.

No matter how small the item you are sharing. Be a critical consumer of information. Do not simply accept information at face value. Ensure it’s accurate; check out other sources for a few minutes. Do they match up? Fact-check information before sharing it.

Empowering Your Child Through Sport and Esports: Tips for Parents

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As parents, it is natural to want the best for our children. One way we can do this is by allowing them to express themselves through sport and e-sports.

Participating in sports and e-sports can provide numerous benefits for children. It can help them develop physically, as well as improve their mental and emotional well-being. It can also teach them important life skills such as teamwork, perseverance, and discipline.

But in order for children to get the most out of these activities, it is important to approach them in the right way. Here are some tips for getting the best out of your children if you allow them to express themselves through sport and esports:

  1. Encourage a growth mindset: Instead of focusing on the outcome of the game or competition, encourage your child to focus on the process and the effort they put in. This will help them develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that they can improve and learn through hard work and effort.
  2. Support their interests: Whether your child is interested in football, darts, or Fortnite, it is important to support their interests and passions. This will help them feel valued and motivated to continue pursuing their goals.
  3. Set achievable goals: Help your child set achievable goals for themselves, whether it be improving their shooting accuracy in football or reaching a certain rank in an online game. This will give them something to work towards and help them feel a sense of accomplishment when they achieve their goals.
  4. Encourage teamwork: Both sports and esports require teamwork and cooperation. Encourage your child to work with their teammates and to be a good sport, whether they win or lose.
  5. Foster a love of learning: Encourage your child to learn as much as they can about their sport or game. This could mean watching instructional videos or reading about strategies and tactics. This will help them improve and also foster a love of learning.

By following these tips, you can help your child get the most out of their participation in sport and esports. Whether they become professional athletes or esports champions, the skills and lessons they learn through these activities will serve them well throughout their lives.

How I Brought High-Speed Internet to Omagh Business Centre in 2004: A Story of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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In 2004, the world was rapidly shifting towards the internet age, and high-speed internet was the latest innovation that was transforming the way people lived and worked. At that time, Omagh Business Centre, a computer and office supply shop, was doing well in the local market, but it had not yet embraced the benefits of high-speed internet.

Recognizing the opportunity to bring a new service to the business, I conducted market research and financial analysis to determine the feasibility of introducing high-speed internet to our offerings. The research indicated that there was significant demand for faster internet connectivity in the area, and it made sense to expand our services in this direction.

With a clear plan in mind, I began searching for a reliable vendor that could provide the necessary technical infrastructure and handle the heavy lifting required to implement this new service. After much consideration, I found a vendor that could white label the service, allowing us to focus on delivering high-quality internet service to our customers.

We launched our home and business broadband connections in December 2004, offering speeds ranging from 56kpbs dial-up to 2mbps broadband. The response from the local community was overwhelmingly positive, and we soon saw a significant increase in our customer base.

As part of our efforts to promote our new broadband service, we created a website that showcased our offerings and made it easier for customers to learn about the service and sign up. Although my graphic design and website coding skills were still basic at the time, we were able to create a website that effectively communicated our message and helped us reach more customers.

Looking back on that experience, I am proud of the work we did to bring high-speed internet to our local community. It was a significant milestone in the evolution of Omagh Business Centre and paved the way for continued growth and success.

Reflecting on My School Years: Inside and Outside the Classroom (1995-2000)

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I recently found a word document of what I had done inside and outside of school from 1995-2000. It’s funny reflecting back on these things.

Inside School

  • 1995-2000 I was a member of the school football team. This helped me build on communication skills, teamwork and discipline.
  • 1995 I was a member of the school debating team. This helped me build on communication skills, teamwork and discipline. I learned how to  co-ordinate work and how to co-operate with other students.
  • 1995-1996 Played the ‘Lord Mayor’ in the first year production of “The Thwarting of Barn Bolagrew”
  • 1996 I had a poem published in a poetry anthology.
  • 1997 I received the prize for ‘Creative Writing’ at prize giving.
  • 1999-2000 I received a certificate for achieving most Credit Awards        in Year twelve.

Outside school

  • 1995-1997 Attended a Badminton club
  • 1995-1998 Attended Gerry Armstrong Soccer School

1996-2000 Worked part time helping in a computer repair and sales shop

  • 1997-1998 I was selected to play soccer for Tyrone
  • 1997-2000 I was able to set up an Internet web site and currently maintain and update the site.

My name is Peter Hughes. I am a year twelve student at Drumragh College. My last year at school has been a very busy one. I am working extremely hard for my GCSE examinations. I am studying English Language, Maths, Double Awards Science, French, Technology, Information Systems and GCSE short course Religious Education. I have been able to complete and hand in coursework on time and continued with my part time job in a local computer shop. Through this experience I have learned how to manage my time effectively.

I consider myself to be trustworthy, reliable and very co-operative. I always try to arrive at school and class on time. I always do as I am told in and outside of school and try my best in all areas of life. I often stay after school and attend extra curricular clubs in many areas including Information Systems, Technology, English, Maths and Science.

During my last year at school I went on work experience to P.C. Limited. I thought this was very enjoyable as my interests are in the area of computers. I am also interested in a career in aviation with the Royal Air Force. I have developed this through reading books about technology and flight.

I would like to return to school to study ‘A’ level or  ‘GNVQ’s.

I know that if I wish to do so I will have to study very hard now and in the future.

Looking back I didn’t do my A levels I started them and after a couple of weeks left to work full time. There are many different paths! Today my interests haven’t really strayed too much. I’m still an aviation and computer geek :-).