Private school pupils should work at JD Sports – rather than 'getting daddy to pay for a gap year'

School leavers should look 'closer to home' to stand out from the crowd

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The Independent Online

Private school pupils should forget going to China or Tibet on their gap year to teach or travel – and take a job in JD Sports instead, a leading lawyer has advised.

Sandie Okoro, global lead lawyer for HSBC Global Asset Management, said that when it comes to getting a career, working in a supermarket or sports shop speaks volumes - and nobody cares if "your daddy is rich".

“I see all these wonderful places, they’ve gone off to China and built an orphanage, theyve done this and done that," she told the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST) conference, the Daily Telegraph reported.

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"OK, so your daddy is rich. That’s great. But when you worked at JD Sports at the weekend to earn some money? When have you dealt with the public? They don’t care where you went to school.

“Forget about the going to China and changing the world or whatever. What are you actually doing that’s different? I want people who can come to me and have had real experiences.”

Ms Okoro, who acts as a mentor for HSBC, said she is swamped by resumes and warned that it is "very difficult" to get into work because it "isn't just about academics anymore".

And she praised customer-facing, consumer experience above and beyond volunteering in orphanages or backpacking through India in terms of picking up valuable skills for the workplace.

"In some professions everyone’s got the same academics, and they can speak five languages as well," she said. "What are you going to bring to me that isn’t in front of me on somebody else’s CV?"

Ms Okoro, who said she had a Saturday job at Marks & Spencers, criticised young people's gap year trips to Asia because they've become "formulaic" and the "norm" - and said that it's almost impossible to believe that they're self-funded.

Gap years have also been subject to parody, such as the satirical sketch 'Gap Yah', which won a YouTube award in 2010.

And she said that rather than hearing about exotic adventures abroad, she would like to see the "mundane and ordinary come back in".

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