The World According to Madi – A 13 Year Old Choosing Her Career Path


On the 22nd June 2016 it was ‘Bring your daughter to work’ day and we had the pleasure of having Madi, the 13 (14 next month) year old daughter of our MD join us in Marketing for the morning. We decided to interview her to get an understanding of what it’s like to be looking into the future at 13, what her perception of university vs apprenticeships is, her career aspirations and whether gender diversity in the workplace is on her radar.

So you are doing your final year before you start GCSEs, what subjects have you chosen to go on and study at GCSE?

M: I’ve chosen art, geography, business studies; I’m doing double science, and I’m doing 2 additional subjects.

Why did you choose those subjects?

M: I chose double science because you have to do science; if you were going into a scientific career I’d choose triple science. I chose art because I really like art. I really like pop art, I find that really cool, and I want to become an architect. I’m doing geography because I like travelling, and I find natural disasters and things like that really fascinating. And business studies are really useful, and it’s interesting as well; you find out how business works. I really like English too, even though I’m dyslexic, and you’d expect me to be worse at English, it’s actually my strongest subject and I like the fact that in English you can’t really have a wrong answer. But maths I just don’t enjoy, there’s nothing that makes me look forward to maths. But I know maths is important for architecture which is what I want to do as a career, but I figure if you look at my grades from year 7 to now, they’re so much better, so if I can get that much improvement between year 7 and now, then by GCSE I know I can do well.

What inspired you to pursue architecture?

M: I love watching those shows like Grand Designs, and I love the idea of designing and building houses both inside and out.

Did you feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you to choose your subjects at an early age?

It’s quite daunting to seriously start thinking about your future in year 9. The thing is that you choose your subjects before you do your exams, so you already know what you want to do well in, and it makes you think ‘why bother’ in the subjects you aren’t taking, which I know is the wrong attitude but it seems unnecessary to put such big effort into subjects you aren’t going to take.

Do you know what you’d like to do at A-Level?

M: I definitely want to take art for A-Level.

Have you spoken to anyone about what you’d need to do at A-Level to become an architect?

M: Kind of, I know I definitely need to do art and probably maths. Most of my subjects are fine; it’s just the maths I worry about.

Have you ever spoken to a careers advice service at school?

M: We had a mentor in year 7 and year 8 but not much since then.

Do you have any ideas whether you’d want to go to university or maybe look for an apprenticeship?

M: I don’t really know; I would love to go to university, it’s something different and I think I’d get a lot out of it. Also I want to go to university in another country; I want to travel a lot as well, obviously architects cover the whole world. I really want to do a gap year, but a lot of my friends are like ‘I just want to go to university and get it over with’.

What is your perception of apprenticeships?

M: I think it is where companies take in people (it can be of any age) but normally it’s people who’ve just finished university and they teach them about their company and they make them work as if they work there, but they don’t really.

[We explain the role of an apprenticeship]

M: I suppose if you go to university you still learn, but to actually do it; it’s like you could either read about sports or you could learn by playing, which one’s better? I suppose actually playing would be more useful and in the long term it will probably be better to do an apprenticeship to get experience and to learn.

There are many industries (e.g. engineering) that are dominated by men. Do you have any thoughts about whether your gender will be an advantage/disadvantage in becoming an architect or does it even come into your mind?

M: Honestly no, not at all. There’s nothing that we really can’t do. Obviously going to an all-girls school it can get really competitive with boys and it’s like ‘whoa, we’re all equal’ and it’s good that there’s a focus on it but sometimes it’s a bit too much. It doesn’t come into my mind, I just don’t think about it like that. It might be something I face in the future, for example if I’m in an interview and it’s just four other men applying, it might impact then, but it won’t stop me. I can’t overthink something like this because we are all the same. There’s nothing that should put men above women or women above men.

This is just a snippet of our 79 minute conversation with Madi during which we also talked about the architecture in Barcelona which was ‘awesome’, why she loves the idea of living in America and how she wants to go to university there. We looked for architecture apprenticeships, and were sad to find there aren’t any, so we discussed the alternative of a more engineering or construction focused apprencticeship she could embark on while also looking at the other subjects she’d need to study at A-Level to get into university to follow her dream.

At the end of our interview, we decided to show Madi the more creative side of our work, and made a short animated video with her about why she wants to be an architect and where she wants to study. Why not check it out?