Caitlin Debbage, 17, Buckinghamshire
Caitlin is a Sixth Form student, passionate about protecting the environment. She’s interested in a career in environmental law, and also loves filming and editing to capture and communicate important messages. She’s currently working on a short film to document the experiences of young people in her area during the COVID pandemic.
Apprentice Nation has helped me realise that it’s okay not to be completely sure what I want to do. There are so many opportunities out there and so many people who can help. I’ve also built up a lot of confidence in talking to new people, through the Youth Advisors Network and Mentor Sessions, and learned lots of great tips and tricks for self-esteem and confidence in the on-demand videos in the Skills Hub.
My Mentor Session with Zoe Stern (Community Engagement Lead, Europe @ Google) was particularly inspiring. She was really interested in what I’m passionate about and gave me loads of advice on how to develop my video editing skills, as well as all the places this could take me. It really opened my eyes to what opportunities are out there and I’m so grateful for that!
I’ve also found the Youth Advisors Network very rewarding. It’s great to talk with people at similar stages in life and learn about their creative sides. I’ve really loved hearing people’s different ideas and opinions about various things.
Every time I see a new opportunity with Apprentice Nation, I try to take it! I’ve realised that at the end of the day, I need to get involved to see results and learn new things – so that’s exactly what I’m doing. It’s been really fun trying new things and seeing different perspectives instead of staying in my comfort zone and not trying anything new. I’ve spoken with my friends too about my new ideas for my future and how excited I am to achieve my goals. I’ve told them how Apprentice Nation has helped me feel much more confident and open to new ideas – they should get involved!
What industry most interests you and where has that interest come from?
I’m currently very open-minded about my future career and where I want to be. One industry that I’d really love to go into would be environmental law. I have a huge passion for protecting the natural world, which stems from growing up next to a farm and being constantly surrounded by nature, as well as a love for David Attenborough documentaries. I want to help the environment and fight to combat climate change.
I also love video editing and making short films. I’m currently working on a documentary about the effect of the pandemic on teenagers and I have also considered this as a career path too. I love expressing myself creatively and documenting moments in time through film, as well as working hard on something and producing results that I can be proud of. My interest in this comes from a love of film and TV in general. I find it amazing how different directors can express a style through editing and angles, and enjoy developing my own personal style.
Since taking part in Apprentice Nation, I’ve started looking at all the different pathways I could take to build a career I’ll love. I’ve started signing up for new activities after lockdown that will help me to develop my skills and learn new things. And I’ve started deeply researching the areas that I’m interested in with much more confidence.
How has 2020 and the impact of COVID changed your perspective on your career and future?
It made me realise how quickly everything can change and how important it is to seize every moment. 2020 showed us the value of normality and how much we take for granted. I’m now much more appreciative of what I have and much more ready to live in the moment. You never know how fast the world can be turned upside down.
2020 also gave me the opportunity to step back and really look at the world and the society we live in. I spent a lot of last year educating myself on the inequalities in the world and the privileges that I have and continue to do this every day. Spending so much time at home self-evaluating really taught me how to actively get involved in helping others, and how I can be so much better. So I think 2020 and COVID also changed my perspective on my future in terms of how I can go into an industry that really helps to make a difference in the world and make real, necessary change.
What challenges have you faced in shaping your future or at school?
Motivation and mental health has been a big issue in my school, and in shaping my future. In a national lockdown, you begin to go through the motions and every day feels the exact same. It became difficult to look to the future and make plans when everything seemed so far away. I found that this affected my attitude towards schoolwork, and it was hard to stay motivated to work outside of the classroom setting. I struggled to adjust to remote learning and being more independent, but I pushed through and made sure that I stayed on top of my work, so that it didn’t build up.
Has your confidence ever got in the way of going for an opportunity or pursuing a goal?
There have been multiple times when I’ve been really scared to get involved or try out new things, out of fear of being judged. Last year I took part in NCS with a group of people who I had never met before. I had no idea what to expect going into it and nearly decided not to try at all. But I did end up going and had an amazing time! I have held back in a lot of situations because of a lack of confidence, but am working on this every day.
If your lifestyle could be represented in a music artist or genre, what would it be and why?
Right now I would say Cocteau Twins. I love Elizabeth Fraser’s use of glossolalia, which can make their songs slightly confusing for new listeners, but incredible when you’ve listened several times. I think this makes their tracks very unique, and I’d like to think that the way I approach situations and understand things is a bit like that.
I also find David Bowie very inspiring. He was so unapologetic in expressing himself and just creating the most amazing sound possible.
Caitlin’s top tips to pick yourself when you’re feeling down:
- I listen to music. If I listen to songs that really inspire me, I feel ready to do anything;
- I find working out, or even just going for a walk, really helps to clear my head and stop overthinking situations.
- Talk to friends and get their advice. I think as soon as you tell someone that you need help or you’re feeling down, the problem seems so much smaller and easier to overcome.