My name is Andrew Hall, I am 29 years old, I studied GNVQ Intermediate Media and BND Print and Publishing at South Essex College from 2001 to 2004 and this is my story.
My background (along with most of the students I studied with) was that I studied for my GCSEs at school and when I finished I wanted to study something that excited me. I chose to study at South Essex College because I felt the College would give me a better understanding of the field I wanted to investigate. College prepared me for the workplace by making me able to talk to people from all backgrounds. It taught me to know when I should speak and when to listen, when to fight my corner to the bitter end or when I should admit defeat. I learnt that stuff happens - the good and the bad - but what happens next is just as important. If something bad happens you have to pick yourself off the floor, dust yourself off and keep going.
Since completing my course I have had a range of jobs such as working at Essex County Council and Chelmsford City Council. In 2010, I started working on my young adult book reviewing blog called The Pewter Wolf (http://thepewterwolf.blogspot.co.uk).
For the Pewter Wolf blog I read and review books and then give an honest reaction to the blog readers. I fell into being a book blogger by sheer fluke. I was unemployed and while looking for work I started reading and then writing my thoughts on the book I read online. I didn’t think anything of it when I started, but then publishers and authors talked to me and invited me to blogger events, sending me books in exchange for an honest review and I found myself being part of the book blogger community. At College I learnt different things that made me have a much better understanding of the field I was entering which is hugely important now when I write The Pewter Wolf. Just because I don’t use the equipment I learnt on at College doesn’t mean they haven’t been useful in my life now. It’s how you use those skills that is important.
The great thing about doing further education was that I studied the field that I was interested in. No one told me I had to. I wanted to learn about the world of media and then later the world of publishing. Because I wanted this knowledge I made myself learn it and I had to put the work in. The skills I learnt at College have helped me in both my professional and private life. The College taught me that it is important to listen to my work colleagues and work with them and there are also times when I must use my skills to work alone. It also taught me to voice my thoughts over possible ideas and to ask questions - no matter how big or small they are.
I think my favourite memory of being at College was my first day. I remember the excitement and nerves over what was going to happen next. Meeting my fellow classmates, who felt exactly the same as me as no one knew what was going to happen next. Then getting straight into it. That, I think, is my fave memory. Earlier this year The Pewter Wolf was nominated for three awards with the UKYA Blogger Awards. These awards are the first (to my knowledge) to be supported by publishers and recognise the hard work that book bloggers do. I won one award; Blogger’s Blogger, which is a huge honour as I still feel like I am faking my way through reviewing books at times.
My ambition is to keep working hard at The Pewter Wolf and continue reading books so that my review may make one person think: “That sounds like something I like”, and discover a book or author that they love. I feel that my time at the College built my confidence up and it was the start of me getting comfortable in my own skin. College was the kick I needed to realise that I didn’t need to please everyone. I had to please myself and make myself happy. It took a long time to get there (and I think we all have a long way to go) but College was very much the starting block! I would recommend South Essex College because it gave me space to grow. Not just in what I was learning, but personally as well.