From the age of eight years old I wanted to be an English Teacher in a Secondary School; fast forward to the summer of 2016 and that all changed. This was a change that had the ability to disrupt my entire plan for my future, instead I found it opening up avenues I had not considered possible. I had heard that the government at the time were enforcing mass changes to the education system in the United Kingdom. These changes meant that teachers have more hoops to jump through and that the workload outside of school hours increases in the form of formal paperwork meaning that you no longer aim to teach children, but rather to impress Ofsted and senior management teams in the school itself. All of these changes create a system of teachers whereby you are working through set goals for the class as a whole and yourself as the teacher, rather than that of the individual children within your class. Well done Nicky Morgan for continuing with whatever Gove left us and making it somehow worse.
Recently a colleague of mine got a graduate job (a job that uses the specific degree knowledge and is in the professional area of their study) and this started me questioning what my exact plans are for my future. Throughout my life there have been jobs that I have wanted to do, all varying from forensic anthropologist to journalist. I have found that people are scared to talk about jobs and careers while simultaneously applying pressure on themselves and others by wanting to achieve the most in a short amount of time, to demonstrate their worth and to prove to everyone that they have actually gained something through their time in education. Often you find people put up their hands to their eyes in order to live in a small bubble with only one clear route ahead of them.
Although it was after starting my under graduate degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies that I realised I could actually work as a writer, something that often was more like a pipe dream rather than something that could be real. A writer, more specifically a poet and novelist, seemed like the sort of job I wanted to have in the future. It certainly is not easy, often not very rewarding, but the spark still has not gone out like it did with teaching.
Stepping away from the idea of being a teacher allowed me to actually see all that is on offer for someone with a degree in creative writing. Jobs in social media and traditional publishing as well as freelance work and self publishing are only some of the other careers that I did not necessary have on my radar until I decided to stop having tunnel vision.
The idea of loving your job and being passionate about it is important to me, however there are times when we can become demotivated – never lazy – just stumble a bit before regaining our footing. Often these moments lead to nothing more than a few bad days in the workplace with a bit of an attitude and then waking up refreshed. Sometimes it is a silent sign to get out and find something new.
I never advocate leaving a job without something else being lined up as periods of joblessness and not having people respond to your applications can actually demotivate you more so. And while I respect people who struggle to find jobs in areas they are qualified for or interested in, to me it boils down to a job being a job. You have bills and rent to pay, surely being able to have any job that allows you to cover these personal expenses while giving you time to look for work in a more suited area of your expertise is better than nothing.
When it comes to jobs and career prospects I do feel as though there is a large portion we are not taught in schools. In my own experiences throughout school we were not affectively shown how to go about looking for jobs or what transferrable skills matched from what to what. During my time at college I had a part time job that meant I was earning an income of my own, however the resources at college for jobs and careers were again vague and misinforming. It was not until I got to university that I started to contemplate what I was actually qualified for, with previous educational institutions just pushing me through to pass exams and not fully letting me explore what I was working toward.
Work experiences that are offered in schools are often censored for the age rating of the children involved. In my secondary school, work experience was offered in Year 10 and again in Year 12 (Sixth Form) for a week each. During my time at the school in Year 10, no schools in the town were taking work experience candidates meaning that I lost my opportunity to actually experience and gain knowledge of what working in a school would be like. However in college I used a contact I had made from the local council to gain experience in a range of schools (from private to schools for children who needed additional support). This was something I had to organise myself and only had the recommendation from a person who I had made the initial contact with. Compared to how my school had managed things it was less stressful and actually allowed me to learn and gain several key skills from my own experience.
You may find yourself questioning your job/career choices in the future and that is one hundred percent okay. You are allowed to feel nervous or anxious about what you are going to be doing about your life. For these moments I want to remind you of the Purple Door services accessible from the university. Purple Door can help you polish your CV as well as aiding you in looking for job prospects and volunteer and internship opportunities that are open to you with you degree. These services can be accessed up to five years after you have graduated from the university and their dedicated team strive to help you make the most of your time in academic higher education.
Having more than one route present themselves to you should not be seen as an overwhelming or scary experience. It is a celebration of what you have achieved that there are so many options open to you. You also do not have to necessarily stick to one path for the rest of your life. Your dream job could be just further down the path waiting to surprise you.
Teaching will always be a job I admire and hold close to my heart. Perhaps one day I will turn to teaching once I feel I have learnt enough to start being able to teach in a, hopefully more well rounded, educational system. I believe the passion is still there but I am aware that there are other things I want to achieve first as I would want to give as much of my time to teaching in order to make it worth while to my students.
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