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Desperately Seeking Career help...

(9 Posts)
LackaDAISYcal Wed 12-Jun-13 11:50:40

I am a qualified structural engineer, but haven't worked in the Engineering industry since before my daughter was born 6 years ago. Prior to that I had around 20 years experience, working my way up throught the ranks of office junior, technician, graduate, becoming chartered and at senior engineer level.

The shine went off it a bit after I had my first DS, but I went back to work when he was 2 for a further four years till having DD. I got pregnant again in quick succession, so never made it back to that job. A period of nasty PND meant going back after DS2 wasn't an option, but I started some part time care work 2.5 years ago when he was 2 which I am still doing.

He will be starting school in September, and I need to do something other than wiping old people's bottoms and making endless cups of tea for the rest of my working life. I've considered teaching, but not sure it's for me; have done a Teaching Assistant level 2 course, but the money is shite and would be left with less than I get at the moment after paying for before and after school club for DS2 and DD. DS1 is going to high school so can look after himself for a few hours so no care needed for him.

I've looked into furthering my career in care as I do enjoy it, but again, money isn't great, hours are unsociable and I haven't got any formal care qualifications and current employer are reluctant to put me through the courses as my previous level of education means they won't get funding for me.

My options are increasingly narrowing into getting back into Engineering, but I feel I will be selling my soul to the devil if I did this sad, but, as a graduate with 20 years in a respected profession, surely I am worth more than a bottom wiper for the rest of my working life? But I have no idea how to get this accross to prospective employers.

The few interviews I have had, I have failed at as they were simple "we ask, you answer types" with no interaction from the interviewers at all and apparently I didn't give enough detail in my answers. Other jobs that I feel I could do, I never get a chance as I don't hit one crucial point on the person spec. In engineering, it's your CV that does the talking...or at least gets you in the door so you can talk!

Thanks for wading through this, and sorry it's so long blush; I would be greatful for any advice as I'm slowly sinking, both emotionally and financially!

higgle Wed 12-Jun-13 18:52:16

I'm the registered manager of a home care service. Like you,op, I had another career ( I was a solicitor) which was getting more and more fraught due to my out of hours police station work and funding cuts. After a period lecturing ( my course was lopped, more cuts) I did some voluntary work with my present employers, a charity, and we got on so well I never left. I now have the RMA award and an an accredited IHM healthcare manager ( that is a masters level qualiifcation). So, have you considered being a care manager? If you run a reasonable sized service you could get about £35k for this role and it is very rewarding work.

Gingerandcocoa Wed 12-Jun-13 19:03:35

Could you elaborate further into why going back into engineering would be selling your soul? It sounds like a great career, one you were reasonably good at, and it's just helping people out in a different way. Granted, your impact on people's lives might not be as directly felt, but you're still helping out others by making buildings safer etc (sorry, not entirely clear on what a structural engineer does :P)!

LackaDAISYcal Thu 13-Jun-13 00:41:40

Thanks for the replies smile

higgle, the only option for me with my present organisation would be a team leader or care co-ordinator role and I would be expected to be on call and to do the 9-5 in the office as well as ooh care calls. It just doesn't appeal given the silly hours my managers currently work. Not sure how I can get my foot in the door of anywhere at a more senior level though as most require a level 3 as a minimum qualification, and unless I fund that myself (which, on what amounts to less the minimum wage, is impossible) then I am stuck as an unqualified carer, on the lowest possible wage sad. The bloody annoying thing is that I am an excellent carer (have many clients request me personally) and love the job, and try to go the extra mile for my clients.

Gingerandcocoa, structural engineering is basically building engineering. Architects design buildings; structural engineers ensure that they don't fall down or take off and that walls and floors stay where they are meant to be! It's a very male dominated industry and the assumption is that the menfolk work long hours whilst the wife does the bulk of the childcare/school run etc. I was always met with disapproving looks when I had to leave to pick up a poorly DS. The nature of the job means a lot of travel as well, leaving home ridiculously early/getting home very late. I used to find it very difficult, and had to pay my CM double time for an early drop off so I could get to the other side of the country for a site meeting at 8.30am. With two needing that, the financial side becomes a real issue. Obviously DH would do his share, but his job involves a lot of travel as well and we just don't have family back-up should we both be held up somewhere.
I also found the job itself quite stressful; the seriousness of something going badly wrong and given that fees being cut constantly meant less time for proper checking of work leading to a greater potential for things to go wrong, as well as trying to juggle too many projects at one time...not to mention the fact that I don't think I was very good at it anyway and seemed to spend a lot of (unpaid) time in the office after hours and weekends trying to catch up with myself, or working from home until silly o'clock. Buuuut, I obviously was doing something right as I narrowly missed a 1st at university, was a Senior engineer before having DD and passed my (extremely difficult) professional exam first time (the pass rate is only about 30% and first time pass rate even less), and had oodles of experience, so it would make sense to stick to what I know. But, I would be slowly dying inside, would never see my children and would be on the verge of a nervous breakdown from the stress...the money is quite good though hmm

I'm not getting any younger either, am mid 40s now and wonder if its too late for me to forge a new career?

Sorry for the self-indulgent ramblings blush. with DS1 starting high school and DS2 starting in reception, I'm at a bit of a cross roads.

Buddy80 Thu 13-Jun-13 18:53:06

Have you thought of becoming a building Contracts Manager or a buyer? It seems like your existing knowledge could be well applied

higgle Fri 14-Jun-13 10:12:27

I work for a charity so maybe I got better opportunities than the care service you work for provides - they are however obliged to fund level 2 for you if you have been there 6 months and you can sometimes get a level 3 at a discount from internet based providers. Anyway the reason I came back was not to persuade you to stay in care but to say that no way are you too old to retrain, I was 50 when I got my RMA.

whatnext13 Mon 17-Jun-13 16:24:02

It seems to me that it might be useful to have a look at a government initiative for women looking to return to work in SET ( science, engineering, technology). There were a lot of workshops, networking events etc being run a few years ago. Maybe find out more about the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET?

KristinaFranziska Thu 20-Jun-13 17:57:58

LackaDAISYcal, I know that dilemma: I used to be a Quantity Surveyor!!!

In terms of careers, choosing "what next" is something I can help people with. There are opportunities to find something that you find fulfilling!

If you PM me I can suggest some ideas if you want to explore some possibilities?

LackaDAISYcal Tue 25-Jun-13 15:56:11

Just seen the additional responses.

thanks higgle; krisztina, I'll PM you and whatnext, thanks for that info; I'll have a dig round and see what I can find. I have looked at contracts manager etc Buddy, but I always have missing bits detailed as essential on the person spec, like experience of some procurement of PM software.

In the meantime, I've signed up with an agency that provides support workers to assist disabled students at one of the local colleges and start trainging for that next week. It will combine the care work and the teaching assistant stuff and though it's not that well paid, it may open a few more doors for me. And it's term time only, which is a big bonus smile

I'm still on the lookout for my dream job though...

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