Why being a serial careerist is a good thing

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What do you do when you finally secure the career you always dreamed of, only to find out it’s not as you imagined?

Alys Stuart, AAT student, went from engineer, to driving instructor, to school teacher before discovering what she really wanted out of her career – fulfillment and happiness. Here she tells us her story:

I have learnt that you don’t have to know where you’re going in order to get where you need to be. I have become the ultimate serial careerist but the alternative would have been to stick at it and be unhappy. The money would have been better but surely there is more to life than that. Why should a decent salary cost you your happiness? While I can’t be sure that this is the last stage of my career, I do know it’s never too late to start again. I am living proof!

I spent the majority of my childhood in care bouncing between foster parents and various children’s homes. The one constant throughout everything was my education. My favourite subjects at school were maths and physics. As such, I went on to study physics and began working as a process development engineer soon after. My whole life I had relished standing out from the crowd and engineering ensured I did just that because women in engineering were practically unheard of in the 1990s. Little did I know this was only the first chapter in my rollercoaster career journey.

Unfortunately, in 1993, after two children and 12 years of marriage, I went through a messy divorce which affected my self-confidence and made me revaluate my life. One of the things I questioned time and time again was my career choice and eventually came to the conclusion that engineering was no longer rewarding for me. Back to the drawing board for chapter two! I recalled tutoring some of my classmates during university and the satisfaction I felt when teaching them. I took this as a sign and decided I wanted to be a teacher. At the time, I couldn’t afford the training, so I requalified as a driving instructor instead. This was like nothing I had ever done before and I enjoyed the new experience of working outside of an office, however the income was not reliable for a mother of two kids.

I ended up working in a call centre instead.

To be brutally honest, this was definitely not my favourite job. The role hardly matched my skills set and this chapter was not remotely connected to where I wanted to be – teaching. But I had to bite the bullet as the pay was consistent and I endured it for four long years. As my enthusiasm for the job diminished more and more, I looked into teacher training again and discovered a £15k tax free bursary for Physics teachers. I applied and secured a place at a local secondary school. I remember thinking this was my big break. Finally! Or was it?

I gained a post as a science teacher and started working in September 2014. After half a term, I made the difficult decision that being a secondary school teacher was not for me. The training was very demanding and I continued to struggle with the time required of teachers outside of school hours. For the first time in my life, I found myself in unfamiliar territory – unemployed and without a sense of direction. What I did know is that I wanted to follow a path which utilised my existing skills but also gave me the flexibility to one day venture out and set up my own business.

After researching a lot of options on the internet I found myself coming back to accountancy and AAT. The idea of having a skill which would enable me to set up my own business someday without a great deal of investment appealed to me and AAT offered me this opportunity. I am looking forward to the next chapter(s) of my career and becoming my own boss very soon.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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