Posted by: katherinejackman | March 8, 2011

Best Laid Plans

I have a very eclectic wealth of experience, something which I’ve only come to realise recently. I’m 22 years old and in my third year, meaning that I entered University two years late. The reason for this? Well, I didn’t take my A-Levels until I was 18. I spent my first two post-school years earning a BTEC diploma in Child Care.

So yeah, I’m qualified to look after children. Up to 18 by myself, to be precise. Yet here I am now, studying English Language and Literature. How exactly did that happen, I hear you ask? I agree that it’s a bit of a severe gear shift, and I often wonder about it myself.

Basically, I was convinced that I wanted to work with children for years. My mother suggested it to me as a career option when I was a teenager and the idea stuck. I did my two weeks work experience in a Nursery, then went on to study it at College.
Trouble is, certain jobs can be very polarising. As part of my course, I spent two days out of the week in various placements, working with children from infancy to the age of seven years. Some experiences were good, others not so much. I had a particularly bad time at one nursery where I was mistreated by my ’employers’, to the point that they reduced me to tears. Luckily, I was removed, but it stuck with me for a long time

I had one truly fantastic placement in an all boys school. I loved it; the staff were lovely and the children were a joy to work with. The problem, though, was that by this point I realised that I didn’t want to work with children anymore. Certainly not for the rest of my life.

Children - Cute when quiet

It was a very sobering experience, I guess. I had a lot of fun on that course, and I picked up some invaluable experience. I did well in it too, walking away with a Distinction Merit Merit grade. But it just wasn’t for me.

In the end, I just didn’t find it as fulfilling as I thought I would. This is the problem with picking a career when you’re young, I think. It can lead to a lot of disillusion and confusion. There’s a lot of pressure to plan your future when you still don’t know how to cook your own dinner, and I genuinely think that it’s best that you take a step back and really think about what you’re doing. Think about whether you’re happy in what you’re doing, and whether you can see yourself doing it for the years to come.

If I’d been a bit wiser, I would have done that too. I don’t regret those two years at all, but I could’ve been investing that time into something I really wanted to do in my heart of hearts. After all, I’m now where I want to be, but it feels like I’m behind sometimes. Being surrounded by younger, more confident people can be a little disheartening.

I guess finding your career just doesn’t come naturally. I’m a living, breathing example.


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