Confused what to do career wise
July 31, 2016 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Hello everyone, I was wondering if you could help me as I'm feeling a bit lost. My family are encouraging me to become a teacher, as I've been in the education system for three years and I am good at it, but I do not enjoy teaching children... More inside

I (25F) have worked as a teaching assistant at a primary school which was very tough, and as a mentor for secondary aged boys with special needs. I absolutely loved working with older children, but the school system in UK is in my opinion quite awful. Low pay, a lot of targets and paperwork, long hours, under appreciated... It is no wonder there is a national shortage of teachers. Various people have come up to me and say I have a talent with children and should really consider getting a diploma so that I can teach maths.
My grandmother and father both want me to get into the tutoring business where I could earn quite a lot of money. But the idea of teaching rich children and help them get into the best schools is not satisfying (I do it part time to earn extra money).
So I will have no job after September as I quit the mentoring job, but I am still getting paid for now as it is summer holiday. I worked very hard at what I did and out of all the people leaving our department, my boss only cried when she gave my goodbye speech because of how much effort and heart I put in and change I've made (her words). But that sort of job is not a career as it does not pay enough and people usually then go on to train to become a teacher, which I wanted to do originally but have now changed my mind (maybe in the future that will change).

I feel as if I have no skills other than being able to manage children and support their learning. I have basic admin skills as well from when I volunteered at a charity. What on earth can I do? I am having a semi crisis freaking out about what I am going to do with my life. I could specialise and get a masters. I've looked into graduate environmental jobs but have been rejected from those or their deadlines passed by at the beginning of the year.
I studied environmental sciences and focused mainly on the social modules with some sciences as well such as chemistry and biology.
I have been trying to get into charity work which I would love to do. I've applied to a lot of jobs in the environment and charity sector including research jobs. I've only had one interview so far as a project coordinator, and got rejected due to my lack of experience.

I have been offered interviews as an admin assistant/secretary at a museum, a hospital, and an accounting firm. My friend is the manager of operations at a very cool start up and told me that taking an admin job is not a career move but could give me skills. I am both very happy that she has a good career, but she got the job through her dad and hasn't had to experience the job application process.
Should I take a job as a secretary? Would it help me gain skills to become something like a project coordinator, or should I keep applying even though it might take months? I feel like I would enjoy it, but my family will be disappointed that I decide not to get into teaching and instead work in admin, but I have been around children for too long! Any advice would be much appreciated.
posted by akita to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Teaching involves a lot of project and people management, so if the orgs with secretarial/admin assistant openings do promote from those positions, I think that could be a really fruitful path--the trick is to find out how they value and treat people in those positions. I worked in places where they treated their admins like they were dumb (and they were not) and I've worked in places where they treated admins very well and did provide an upward path for those who wanted it. If project coordination is something you're interested in, retool your resume (if you've not already) to highlight these skills in your education jobs.

I also agree that you should absolutely not pursue teaching if you no longer feel like you can deal with kids. (As a former teacher myself who left due to burnout, no judgement here!) You deserve better, as do the kids. I've done all kinds of work, but absolutely nothing compares to the very high levels of non-stop emotional and intellectual labor that classroom teachers deal with.

Be honest with your family about your reasons. At the end of the day, if they're at all supportive, they'll accept that you're doing what you need to do to be happy.
posted by smirkette at 9:28 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've just finished my NQT as a science teacher. I love it!
"Low pay, a lot of targets and paperwork, long hours, under appreciated..."
I hear things like this a lot, but I don't really feel them. My pay isn't great, but it's not bad, and it gets better for the next few years. My targets are all pretty sensible really, and I don't focus on the targets, I focus on teaching the kids in front of me as well as I can. I worked less this year than I did as an ITT, and most of the more qualified staff around me work less than I do. There are good and bad weeks, but overall I have a nice work-life balance, and the holidays are fantastic.

That's not to say you should teach if you don't want to, but if you've got a degree in a Sciency subject then the bursary to train to teach is like £20k, tax-free, for working (quite hard and long) from September to June. Even if you do it and decide it's not for you at least you'll know for sure, rather than always wondering about teaching?
posted by chrispy108 at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you love older children (and are good at working with them!), but aren't crazy about teaching, is there anything else with kids you might want to do? Child psychology, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. are all in-demand jobs that would allow meaningful work with kids while avoiding the pitfalls of teaching in a school.
posted by EtTuHealy at 12:07 PM on July 31, 2016 [4 favorites]

Is there a nonprofit or school / educational institution/company that would allow you to work with middle class or underprivileged kids while still drawing a decent salary? You sound like you enjoy working with kids and helping them learn, and are good at it. That's very rare, and it's a shame that you currently aren't in a system that sufficiently supports and rewards your talents.
I'm not familiar with institutions/companies in the UK, but perhaps you could look for a school, tutoring centre or nonprofit that would allow you to work with the type of kids you'd prefer while still compensating you well.
posted by aielen at 1:53 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tl;dr but this teacher of adults is compelled to point out, you don't have to teach kids.
posted by Rash at 8:23 PM on July 31, 2016

Ditto what rash said! To tie in the concept of charity-style work and education, how about teaching ESL (English as a second language) to new immigrant adults? In doing so you also teach them life skills / how to adapt to the customs and practices of their new homeland, etc. Best of luck!
posted by leslievictoria at 5:48 PM on August 1, 2016

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