Gap year helped William Arlidge decide on study

A few months' work in a lab helped William Arlidge realise that he would have to earn a degree to do what he really wanted.

William had wanted to study marine biology at university since he was five years old. “I was just always fascinated with underwater life. When I was really young I wanted to be like Jacques Cousteau, and I wanted to go to the bottom of the Mariana Trench or be the first person to film the giant squid.  That’s the sort of stuff I wanted to do.”

But William's plans changed when he became disillusioned with secondary school in Year 13. “The work I was doing wasn't grabbing my attention. The biology classes were good but the other classes I couldn't focus on properly. In the end I went off with my dad on a trip to India halfway through the year and I sort of gave up on school work. I only just got University Entrance.” 

Not ready to start further study, William took a full-time job sorting medical samples, which he soon realised wasn’t for him. “It was horrible – the full-time work in an entry-level position. It was tedious, monotonous work and I started disliking it after two or three weeks. I think I lasted five months, and then I quit and decided I was going to go to uni.”

William says his work experience motivated him to work a lot harder once he started university. 

“I saw the difference when I looked at my classmates in first year. I got really good grades. I sat down and did all my homework while everyone else was slacking off. Everyone else was failing and getting C’s, and dropping out of courses, and I was thinking ‘What are you guys doing?’ 

"That was because I felt like I’d seen what entry-level work could be like. I didn’t want to go back and do that, so I really had to do well.”

Updated 21 Jul 2016