2015 leaver Isobel McCarthy gave sound life and career advice to senior students: try everything that interests you, get lots of work experience, follow up contacts – and don’t compare yourself to your friends because everyone is on their own path.

Isobel studied Politics and International Relations at Durham University and then went on to do a Masters in Broadcast Journalism. She has been working as a freelance journalist for the Economist, Sky News and Times Radio and starts a job with a strategic communications firm in their Tech and Media Team next month.

At Wally, Isobel studied History, Government & Politics, and English and she took care to credit her teachers here with giving her the research skills, the ability to present and to skim read that have stood her in good stead at university and beyond.

She emphasised the importance of getting work experience in whatever fields interest you, revealing that she set aside two weeks of every student summer holiday for this purpose.

Laura Kuenssberg

There was also sanguine advice: what gets you the job is what you can offer as a person, rather than having the absolute top grades. In fact Isobel insisted she was never top of the class, she just tried hard.

This was evidenced in a couple of her anecdotes; Isobel told how she found herself sharing a lift with BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg one day, and by the time the lift had reached its destination, Laura had shared her mobile number with Isobel! She also shadowed Times columnist Giles Coren, after she wrote to him explaining why she liked his columns and wanted to see him at work.

She advised current students to support each other and not to waste time comparing marks.

It was an inspiring talk, full of energy, drive and wisdom. Thank you Isobel, it’s great to see you making the most of your life!


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