After passing nine GCSEs and four A-levels before turning 20, I really didn’t want to go to University. Quite simply, I was fed up with being in education and had chosen to pursue full time employment in retail in order to be able to gain my independence by purchasing and moving onto a houseboat in Rochester, Kent. After buying the boat I secured a job as a Fresh Food Stock Controller and quickly got to grips with it. All too soon I found it to be less challenging than I had anticipated, so in March 1999 I decided that in order to pursue a rewarding career I needed to read for an undergraduate degree, something that had not seemed attractive a short while ago. I found myself a place on an interesting course and secured funding whilst arranging to change my employment to a part-time checkout operator role to supplement my Student loan.
I graduated in 2002 with a 2:1 Honour’s degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences and very quickly secured an entry-level role with an environmental company. I thrived and held a successful career earning myself a reputation for being sassy and getting things done quickly. However, my story about resilience really starts when my role was made redundant in 2017, and the business did not have any openings to redeploy me to. Instead, they gave me a career onboarding package with a qualified Career Coach to help me work out what I wanted to do next.
Finding my Way
Whilst working with the career coach, I identified that Teaching could be a good career choice for me because I enjoyed the Training element of my previous job role. I started to explore routes into Teaching by attending Teaching Experience events which allowed me to observe numerous examples of lesson delivery in a myriad of subjects first-hand. I took every opportunity to ask existing Teachers about their job and responsibilities. I also befriended the co-ordinator for an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme with a local school.
Back to School part 1
My research confirmed that Teaching was a good career choice for me, so I set about exploring the viable routes into Teaching available to me. I reached out to the ITT coordinator I had befriended to help me with the Application process. I also identified a suitable University PGCE course that would give me hands on training with plenty of experience and support if the ITT route wasn’t successful. I felt that I needed robust support because I had been in full time employment for the last 15 years after graduating.
Applying for Teacher Training through UCAS required two references which I obtained from my career coach and my boss at the company where I was working as a Temp. I was invited for an interview for my chosen University course after the ITT route proved unviable. I was offered and accepted a place on the University PGCE Secondary Geography course I had applied for, starting in September 2018.
However, just before finishing the first training placement for the course my mother became seriously ill. She had not long moved to France and I had not yet visited her there. I was really upset that she had achieved her dream only to become chronically unwell shortly after moving to France, and before I had had the chance to visit her there because she wanted me to prioritise my retraining.
I was determined to complete it successfully for my mother as much as for me, but I could not focus well and had to withdraw from the course. However, I still wanted a new career and decided that Teaching was still a good option for me.
Back to School part 2
I sought advice from the University about my options and they suggested that I pursue a Certificate in Education, available at the same University. They put me in touch with a supportive lecturer to help me use my previous learning to earn the qualification, by helping me write two additional pieces of coursework before I enrolled on a part time master’s course and complete more academic work until I had passed sufficient modules to earn a Certificate in Education. I finished all of this by the end of March 2021.
Resilience, Determination, and Optimism
I am now looking for Training related opportunities in order to embark on a new career. To help me continue with a sense of purpose, I am seeking out every opportunity to gain experience and use unfamiliar tools. I have liaised with the volunteering co-ordinator at the University to engage in volunteering opportunities to ease myself back into the employment mindset and find possible career opportunities.
After attending a recent webinar provided by MyPlus Students’ Club suggesting how best to explain Mitigating Circumstances when seeking employment, I sent a thank you email to two key facilitators from the session to thank them for delivering it. In response, I was quickly asked permission to publish a quote from my email to the website (thank you Jo!) and invited to write this article about my experiences. I also maintain a profile on LinkedIn and have been approached twice with potential opportunities. One seems really promising and I am hoping to gain valuable experience volunteering with them as well as contributing in a meaningful way.
Oh, did I mention that I developed an incredibly unpredictable Chronic Health Condition in 2005? I quickly learnt to take one day at a time and make sure that I appreciate the little things as much as bigger achievements. All of these experiences plus my determination to live my best life has given me a strong sense of resilience and the ability to find opportunities for myself.