Interview with Hattie Wrixon
Tell us about you and Uni’s not for me?
Uni’s not for me is an online resource providing information, inspiration and advice for young ambitious people exploring the alternatives to university. We recently launched UNFM Society, a networking platform for likeminded individuals who all did it without a degree.
Why did you start UNFM?
I was 17 and studying for my AS Levels (English literature, Spanish & classics) when I realised I didn’t want to go to university. There was constantly this pressure that if you didn’t go to university, you wouldn’t be successful and that didn’t seem right. Given the majority of my friends were going on to Russell Group universities, higher education began to felt mainstream and no longer a passport to interesting and well paid work. I began to do some research into the alternatives to university and when I couldn’t find a single resource, I registered unisnotforme.com there and then.
What were you doing before you started UNFM?
I decided to leave school after completing my AS Levels as I felt A Levels only really catered for university. Instead I signed up to a business admin course in Central London which I loved. It was refreshing to learn skills that would be useful in the workplace like addressing informal and formal letters, writing emails, touch typing and shorthand. Once I had completed the course I started working in a number of industries including the City, property and PR before taking on UNFM full time.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I never imagined I would be running my own business. I started UNFM as a blog to inform people of their options but as tuition fees grew, so did the interest in my blog from both students and the media. My mum has run a business for most of my life so it wasn’t out of the question and I had managed to see first-hand what is involved. When the opportunity came to take UNFM on full time I didn’t think about it twice and haven’t regretted my decision.
Are there plenty of alternatives out there instead of university?
There are a number of alternatives to university. The government have made a pledge to have 3 million apprentices by 2020 and have created the Apprenticeship Levy so they are an increasingly popular choice. There are also school leaver programmes available, internships, entry level jobs, gap years, traineeships, NVQs – the list goes on. The main thing to remember is that picking one of the above is not a second choice to university, it is as good opportunity as higher education.
What hurdles have you faced so far?
My biggest hurdle so far is trying to break the stigma of apprenticeships to young people and parents. For me, apprenticeships make so much more sense than university. You’re learning whilst earning on the job, it’s just a different type of education to university.
What are your future plans and goals for UNFM?
My plan for UNFM is to be the number one resource for young people exploring their options post school. Next year I am launching the first conference all about the alternatives to university which I’m looking forward to. I want to be the go-to place for the best talent amongst school leavers and most importantly a voice for ambitious people who decided uni was not for them.
What have been some of your biggest breakthroughs for you and UNFM so far?
We recently partnered with WhiteHat, a high quality apprenticeship provider. I am very excited about that, I hope big things will come from that.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I would like to have a bigger team at UNFM, be in a position to sell the company and hopefully be influential in the education system. My main objective is to shake up the education in this country and give it a modern day make over and I hope I’ll be well on my way to do doing that in five years’ time.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to an entrepreneur?
Be open minded and be focused. Often I get caught up in so many ideas I have and want to do everything at the same time. It’s good to keep focused on one idea and see it through rather than starting several and being disappointed if none of them work. The other piece of advice I would give, although I’m biased, is university is not the be all and end all and often some of the most successful entrepreneurs didn’t go because they were hungry and ambitious to get started!
Interview with Hattie Wrixon
Tell us about you and Uni’s not for me? Uni’s not for me is anRead More
What if the next revolutionary idea is in the mind of somebody who cannot afford to express themselves?
Leaving school and being launched into the ‘Big Bad World’ – quite literally. It isRead More