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To wonder what on earth to do with my life?

(29 Posts)
abigwideworld Tue 31-May-16 17:35:28

Name changed because this is quite identifiable.

For background, im 22. I am in a very long term relationship and we are due to marry very soon. Our first child will be born later in the year. We have been living independently for several years, very happily.

Unfortunately, my career is a mess. I trained as a teacher, and my degree is in Education. I spent my whole life working towards that point. However, I was awful at teaching. During my PGCE, I struggled and my mental health declined to the point where my tutor told me to drop out in the final week. I was not allowed to resit my final teaching practice as they said my health wouldn't take it. I've since been encouraged to complain but I can't face it.

Since then, I've been working as a TA which I love, but my contract was temporary and hasn't been renewed for funding reasons. I now have no idea what else to do. I know I want to do something with my life but I just don't know how I'm supposed to figure out what to do!

AlbertHerbertHawkins Tue 31-May-16 18:29:36

Go and get some careers advice. I found it invaluable. The do things like psychometric testing to see what might suit you. Give it a try.

Wetbankhols Tue 31-May-16 18:32:22

Poor you.

If you are pregnant then I would get that bit up and out of the way before embarking on anything else, to be honest.

myownprivateidaho Tue 31-May-16 18:34:07

What qualifications do you have? What do you like? What are you good at? Willing to retrain? Willing to move? Do you want something high paying, something stress free, something creative? Think about what your priorities are, that will already narrow it down.

FrancisdeSales Tue 31-May-16 18:36:18

Don't worry at 22 you have not ruined "your whole life" and you helpfully found out teaching is not for you before you wasted more time on it. Your experience studying and qualifications won't be wasted however. I would second getting some serious careers advice. Did the University you attended have a careers service for alumni? You can often work with them online.

Kariana Tue 31-May-16 19:27:43

I don't understand, if you love being a TA why aren't you searching for other TA jobs if this one is coming to an end? Why do you need to change careers entirely?

opheliaamongthelillies Tue 31-May-16 19:56:21

Stick with being a TA, you get to teach and make a difference in children's lives without any of the bullshit paperwork and ridiculous hours of extra work after school. If you go for SEN or Behaviour children you'll never be out of work for long.

missymayhemsmum Tue 31-May-16 22:03:48

You are 22 and have only worked in education so far, and you are also pregnant, which makes you a less than ideal candidate for a years TA contract starting september.
Sign up with a couple of temping agencies and try a few things that aren't education, even if its only for a few weeks at a time, as it will give you a different perspective on the world.
Get some careers advice, look at jobs pages and see what thrills you even if you aren't qualified for it. Or if you love being a TA why not do supply for a few months? With a few years TA experience you could revisit qualifying as a teacher if you wanted to, it may be that you weren't ready, not that you were rubbish at it.
Clearly one of the things you have decided to do with your life is be a mum so commit to enjoying it. You are young enough to start a second career when your kids are in school, after all.

CakeNinja Tue 31-May-16 22:36:47

Yes, why didn't you look for a new TA job?
I don't agree your career is a mess.
You're 22 with a baby on the way, hardly 56 with no career prospects. Bit melodramatic.
Have your baby, look for any courses you can do, keep your skills updated and reevaluate at a later date.

wobblywonderwoman Tue 31-May-16 22:44:09

I would just keep trying for TA jobs at the moment. You have your degree so plenty of opportunities for a postgrad or whatever. Enjoy your pregnancy

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 31-May-16 23:03:23

Your career can't be a mess at 22. That's catastrophic thinking. Have you had any counselling since your break down?

Loads and loads of people discover that what they chose as a career at 18, was not actually the right choice for them.

It happened to both DH and me and my sister and one of my brothers and my two best friends (and lots of our other mates). Huge numbers of people are doing something totally different at 30 than they planned/trained for at 22. In fact, I can only think of a few people that stayed in exactly what they originally trained for at 18. One is a chemical engineer. One is a mechanical engineer. One is a writer. One is a doctor. Yep, struggling to think of any more.

A life coach might offer the right kind of help for you.

abigwideworld Tue 31-May-16 23:09:25

Sorry I should clarify. I love being a TA right now, but I can tell that I'm going to get bored with it soon, iyswim. I'm one of these people that need to be learning/challenged all the time and right now being a TA isn't great for that. If I'm not going into teaching there's no progression to work towards, and I need a goal!

I've met with careers advisors, who find my situation pretty perplexing and usually just say I will find something! Not very helpful! I can't retrain as I've used all my university loans, so I'd have to pay fees up front. I asked about courses at my local colleges just to keep my mind busy but they said I was overqualified.

I can't just get another TA job as I would be on maternity for most of the academic year. There is no demand for supply work for TAs here. I'll probably end up working in a customer service job until the baby is born (long history of part time retail jobs) but I need something to work towards long term or my brain will shrivel up!

abigwideworld Tue 31-May-16 23:15:37

Runrabbit no, I haven't had any counselling. I've never thought of it as a breakdown before but that's essentially what it was. In my last few days I was staring at walls blankly when I was meant to be teaching, refused to take lessons because I just couldn't, and cried all the way through my final observation. I had a pretty horrible experience.

I know people change careers all the time. I just don't know how a) I'd decide what I want to do and b) how on earth I'd retrain

abigwideworld Wed 01-Jun-16 17:51:55

Been looking at working from home jobs this afternoon but there's nothing! Feel like banging my head against a brick wall!

HighDataUsage Wed 01-Jun-16 18:09:17

VeryBitchyRestingFace Wed 01-Jun-16 18:13:25

I've known a few disability advisers at colleges/universities where I work who have under/post graduate qualifications in education/teaching.

The role is pretty well paid - certainly more so than an entry level teacher - and involves student contact, although obviously no teaching.

abigwideworld Wed 01-Jun-16 18:26:20

Ooo, that's right up my street, VeryBitchy! I currently work 1:1 with a child with a specific disability and get very excited about access to education, so that would be perfect. I wrote a couple of assignments about barriers to higher education while I was at uni, so I could probably talk about it in an interview.

I'm going to look into that, thank you!

VeryBitchyRestingFace Wed 01-Jun-16 18:45:54

You generally need to have some sort of experience in the field of disability, preferably in an advisory capacity, to get into this kind of role.

Once in post, you would certainly be expected to undertake some sort of additional qualification in fields such as a Professional Development Award (PDA) in Inclusiveness.

A good knowledge of relevant legislation such as the Equality Act is needed. Also awareness of the Disabled Students Allowance, Needs Assessments, and alternative sources of student funding would also be useful.

I would keep an eye on this website for potential roles (search under "disability advisor/adviser"):§or=&show=25&x=0&y=0

One way to get more experience in a tertiary education setting might be to work as a student notetaker in college/uni lectures. This role isn't particularly well paid unless you have a specific qualification notetaking for deaf/disabled people (in that case the pay might as much as £20-30 p/h). Unqualified student notetakers usually get between £8-12 per hour.
This kind of work tends to be more sporadic but might fit in well with family commitments as you can usually state your hours of availability.

Another possibility is looking for admin jobs in disability units at colleges/universities. That would be one way to gain experience within the field and you would be in a good place to hear about vacancies/get a feel for whether you'd like the role.

abigwideworld Wed 01-Jun-16 19:01:54

Thanks for the link. It doesn't look like there are any opportunities related to that in my area, but I'll certainly keep an eye out.

I'm starting to think I might have to tackle the complaint eventually, but I don't know where I'm going to get the courage to do that! I was told to contact the Department for Education but that was a little vague to be honest and I have no idea where to start.

Itriedtodohandstandsforyou Wed 01-Jun-16 19:21:36

I really hope you do tackle the complaint, I can't believe they persuaded you to drop out rather than support you in your final week. I'm a TA and I do love it but I get what your're saying re wanting more of a challenge in your career. You could enrole with recruitment agency for the time being or consider HLTA which I would love to do but it sounds a bit too much like hard work for my liking Good Luck.

abigwideworld Wed 01-Jun-16 19:25:32

I've thought about being a HLTA but that seems to involve a lot of cover work. Being in front of a class makes me a nervous wreck, even one year after I finished my PGCE!

Yeah trust me, that's the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complaint. I attended a 'get into teaching' event earlier this year where I told me story to a DfE representative. He was horrified and told me to make sure I speak to someone about it! Its hard to deal with something like that when it brings back horrible memories though.

Itriedtodohandstandsforyou Wed 01-Jun-16 19:35:07

These days, they are crying out for decent teachers, you should have been encouraged not frightened off. What bastards. In time you will feel stronger and you'll confront it when the time is right. You've had a horrible experience but that's in the past. wine

abigwideworld Wed 01-Jun-16 20:20:35

Thank you. I really wish I could have some wine right now! I hate thinking about jobs/careers because it really gets me down but it has to be done sometimes.

There's a job in the NHS that I'm really interested in and I'm trying to pluck up the courage to email them about some work experience! It would be a real career change but it's an area I feel fascinated by and there's lots of room for progression. Just not many actual jobs but that's a bridge I'll cross if/when I get to it!

opheliaamongthelillies Thu 02-Jun-16 09:17:50

I have to admit I'm a bit confused about what you think you have to complain about. By your own admission you have said you are not able to stand in front of a class, and you were awful at teaching. So you were told you shouldn't take the final exam for the good of your mental health and the good of children that would have to have you as a teacher, so what exactly have you got to complain about?
Also you keep talking about progression. Teaching and the NHS are vocations, they are jobs people do in order to help others. Remuneration in these careers is not the main priority for most people who choose this work, it's an added bonus to doing a job that has purpose.

chalky3 Thu 02-Jun-16 09:26:07

Read the other posters' advice, it's all useful. You're still young, you have plenty of time to find your ideal career. You also have a busy life changing event ahead of you, focus on that and try not to worry about the future too much.
I worked with someone who was previously a teacher. He hated it and completely changed careers to a job related to his hobby that he loves and will do for the rest of his working days. Think about what you enjoy and pursue related careers. It is possible, so don't give up hope.

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