How did you start your working life? I spent over 10 years working in insurance from age 18
What training / jobs have you done in the past? I didn’t particularly like working for someone else and so at the age of 28 I set up a business with a partner making bespoke wrought iron products. This business is still going strong, although I parted company with it about 3 years after it began. I then went back to college to train in beauty and holistic therapy on a part-time basis.
Part of the way through the course I found myself pregnant. I didn’t go on to use these qualifications, but carried on studying while my children were small enough and did yoga teacher and nutrition qualifications. As a family we moved to Portugal when my children were still very small and I taught yoga there and ran a slimming group.
We came back to the UK a few years later and I went on to work for Weightwatchers for a while. I was then offered a franchise at a good price – a cleaning agency – which I am currently running. However, I have continued to study as this is not really what I see as a long-term business for me. I think if you’re going to be self-employed or study something career-wise, it needs to be an area that you are interested in and be happy in. I am just finishing two Level 4 NCFE qualifications in counselling and am in the process of setting up a business in counselling and providing counselling workshops to others, hopefully with a partner.
Why did you think about taking a new course/retraining? What made you chose this course? I have taken many courses over the years, some just because I am interested in the subject, not necessarily to use workwise.
How was it making the transition back to study? I have always studied. However, I think its important to choose a way of study that you are happy with.
What were the biggest challenges? I think the biggest challenges to studying are time and money. Not all courses are financially viable and if you have to work around study, finding a course to fit in with that can be difficult.
What’s your favourite thing about your course? My current courses in counselling are very interesting and its exciting to be doing something and possibly working in an area that is so interesting. I am looking forward to studying more in this area too.
What’s the thing you least enjoyed about it? I have just had to go on practical training that was 350 miles away from home and included staying several days. Financially it was expensive. It is also difficult to do that when trying to run a business single handedly and look after school aged children. Fortunately my business way quiet over those few days.
How did you fit in retraining with other commitments – family, work etc.? You have to study when you can. Sometimes, as above, it is difficult. You do need to rely on others sometimes, especially when you have children.
What has happened since you qualified: how have you taken your new knowledge forward? This time I am in the process of qualifying but I am preparing everything so I can start straight away. Starting a business can be very slow, so you need to do everything you can to get up and running and get advertising going. When we started the wrought iron business I think we were quite lucky. We got enough business from the beginning to make a living. But it’s about being in the right place at the right time. Advertising in the right places. Back then we didn’t have social media.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time? I think times are tougher now so I don’t expect to be successful overnight. I have my current business to keep me going but hope that within the next two years I can say goodbye to that and be running a successful counselling business.