I specialised in teaching science, but being a primary school teacher allowed me the freedom to explore every subject and bring them all to life. As a supply teacher, work was sporadic but interesting. I covered the full range of age groups and subjects, and also took part in a number of school trips where it was known I would be involved in teaching follow-up lessons.
Trainee Legal Secretary
I needed greater financial security than supply teaching could afford. A local firm advertised for a trainee legal secretary and I was lucky enough to secure the position. I worked for a personal injury defence solicitor and gained a love of the law and legal processes in my time in this role.
Legal Secretary/PA to Senior Partner
As secretary/personal assistant to the senior partner in a law firm I learned about conveyancing and probate, his specialities, and broadened my love of the law. Although I enjoyed the work, there was no career progression available at the firm and back then (2004/2005), there was still very much a culture of disparity between men and women in the older law firms which drove me to look for a different role elsewhere. I enjoyed the social justice aspect of the law so sought out a role where I could work for a company that provided help to others.
Facilities and Governance Administrator (Housing Association)
This was an incredibly varied and diverse role, covering maternity leave. As well as providing building and facilities support to the head office of a local housing association, I also provided administrative support to the board and executives. I prepared board papers and minuted the meetings, and assisted officers throughout the organisation to write board reports. I also managed various contracts such as lift maintenance and had budgetary responsibility for office refurbishment and maintenance. As a non-profit organisation, it scratched my itch to help others.
Information Systems Administrator (Housing Association)
When my maternity leave role of facilities and governance administrator ended, I wanted to continue to work for a housing association. A national housing association was advertising for an administrator for their IT department and, although this was different from my previous direction, I thought it would be interesting. I worked closely with the Head of IT and each area of the department to streamline the processes, monitor budgets and assist where required. I was involved in managing application permissions, and gradually my role gained more technical involvement as I helped out with application testing and project administration.
Application Support - HR (Housing Association)
After talking to the manager of the application support team, and expressing an interest to learn more about application support, I was given the opportunity to train up on the HR application and start to assist with support for this. My knowledge quickly grew and I became a valuable member of the team. I led on upgrades, took charge of support for payroll year end, supervised a more junior member of the team and became proficient in database scripting and VBA programming. My team leader invested heavily in me and I gained my .NET Enterprise Developer certification.
Senior Application Support Specialist
Over the years, the structure of the IT department changed radically and the teams within it became more specialised. I was seconded to the role of Senior Application Support Specialist, heading up a team of four specialists who provided second line support to the organisation. our database and server support work was now handled by other specialist teams within the department and we worked closely with them to achieve excellent support for a large number of business-critical applications.
After nearly three years as the Senior Application Support Specialist, I took a full 12 months' maternity leave to have my first child. During this time, a further restructure took place and my secondment ended. When my maternity leave ended, I returned to my previous substantive role of Application Support Specialist.
Application Support Specialist
Sanctuary Housing Association
I provide second line support to over 12,000 staff across England and Scotland for a number of applications critical to their business. I work on application upgrades, collaborate with suppliers and other teams within the IT department, and troubleshoot issues that arise within the applications from time to time.
My favourite job was Application Support (HR). In this role, I managed staff, made decisions about the software, and worked on the servers and databases as well as providing second line support for the software itself. I was free to develop and code enhancements to make life easier for the business, and to diversify outside of the application into other spreadsheet and database solutions. No two days were the same and I had a high degree of autonomy in the role. I felt supported, challenged and valued.
I work full-time in second line IT support, and have been with my current company for 13 years. I originally qualified as a primary school teacher, and my journey from that to IT support was varied, interesting and mostly unplanned.
Doing a variety of roles has helped to build my knowledge and understanding of business, and to gain a rounder view of the world.
Outside of work, I have undertaken committee roles for my allotment association and my local WI. I can't recommend the WI highly enough - all women over the age of 18 can join, and there are some wonderfully modern groups doing amazing things and bringing about change in the world. As well as the more traditional aspect, there is a huge movement for modernisation. Not all WIs are the same, so shop around for one that fits you best. You will find so much support, knowledge and friendship and can gain a variety of skills that will help your work life.
Information technology IT / ICT
Never be afraid to ask questions, you never know where they might lead you! Try new things, and don't rule anything out because you don't think you can do it.
Bachelor of Education (Primary)
Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education
.NET Enterprise Developer
Introduction to Leadership and Management
Learning Tree International, supported by Stafford University
Institute of Leadership and Management
English Speaking Board
Biology, Chemistry, Physical science
Tasker Milward Secondary School
Technology didn't exist as a subject when I was in school in the early 1990's, though I did join the lunchtime computer club, where we would write basic programs which we would then save to a 5.25 inch floppy disk, which was actually floppy and you couldn't write on it as it would damage the data it contained!
Being able to communicate with both technical teams and non-technical customers; quick analysis of an issue to identify the root cause and how to fix it; the ability to work on several tasks at once and juggle priorities; documentation of knowledge and processes.
I found the StayAhead and Learning Tree courses very useful and set at a good level. They enabled me to get up to speed on databases, servers and programming very quickly. All of this knowledge, however is also freely available through various fora and sites and there is an awful lot of support and guidance available on the internet for learners of all levels.
At school I knew I wanted to do something involving science, possibly as a forensic scientist or a pathologist, so I took the three sciences for A-Level. In a last minute twist, I decided to apply for teacher training after enjoying the work experience I undertook as part of my Youth Award Scheme. This enabled me to specialise in science, but also as a primary school teacher I would still have the variety of teaching all of the other subjects as well.
Rather than going straight onto a teacher training course, I think I would do a pure science degree to keep my avenues open in this field. I could still do a PGCE to get my teaching qualification afterwards but I had been conscious at the time of the cost of extended education so was guided by the primary teacher training course only being three years long.
Alternatively, knowing how my love of law grew, I believe I would have enjoyed doing a law degree and going into law as a solicitor, though the sexism that was still rife in the field would have continued to frustrate me.
That said, I have covered a lot of really enjoyable areas in my working life and I can't say that I regret any of them.