When you choose a career out of school, college or University, it can feel like that is you, for life. You have marked your card and the longer you stay, the less employable you are. What else could you possibly do?

It is easy for me, as an experience Career Coach, to highlight all the opportunities your transferable skills will give you, but sometimes you need to hear about the journeys of others.

This month’s Inspiring Parent is Lisa, who is currently a Volunteering Officer for a national not for profit organisation. However, this isn’t the path she started her career with.

Over to you Lisa!
My name is Lisa Thompson and I am a Volunteering Officer for Dimensions UK. We are a national organisation who work with people with have learning disabilities and autism. My role involves volunteer management for a wide geographical area – basically 1/2 of the country! I’ve have been in this role for just over a year. It’s a role that feeds my need for professional challenge and still allows me to be a parent.

Teacher Career Change

As a single parent I am also blessed that I can work from home, working my core hours from 9 to 3pm and flexing the rest of my hours to work full time.

Prior to this I had contract roles in the NHS and local council after I changed my career from being a further education teacher. My first role after leaving teaching was an entry level role in the council and I quickly worked my way into a project manager secondment, before moving over the NHS to project manage the setup of a Recovery College.



What was the trigger to make this change?
After having my son I knew I couldn’t continue to be a teacher and be a fully present parent. I did not want the long hours of marking and prepping at the weekends. So I took a gamble and left, then a year later I became a single parent. To date I haven’t looked back and I’m happy with the balance between career and parenthood I have, which I know I wouldn’t have achieved if I was still teaching.

What skills / experience / training have you had?

I’ve studied up to postgraduate level. But since leaving teaching the best experience I have had is being mentored. The first time by a very senior female in the NHS, she helped me take ownership of my new career after teaching and own the skills I had rather than focusing on what I couldn’t do.

The second I’m currently going through as part of my companies programme to support leadership development.

Which existing skills have you used from you old career to now?

Being a teacher taught me how to organise myself and others. Very important skills as a parent and in the project based roles I have worked in.

teacher career change




What has been a challenge? How have you overcome it?

My career moved quickly after I left teaching. The biggest challenge I had was my confidence in my ability to manage the path I was on. I had been a teacher for so long I knew myself in that profession inside out. In my new career the pace at which it progressed didn’t allow me the time to take stock of my new professional identity. The mentoring I had in the NHS helped me to really own myself and my skills. That space allowed me to see the reason why I had progressed so quickly and my confidence grew as a result.

What has surprised you?

That you can reinvent yourself professionally to suit your personal life. It isn’t easy but take whatever help you can to get there.

What advice would you give to a parent in the same position?

Take calculated risks and go with what you know is best for you and your children.

Thank you Lisa for sharing your career journey. I am sure that there are many people at a similar career change crossroad that will be inspired by the leaps of faith you have taken. I particularly love to see the impact of having a good mentor; someone to support and champion you.

Over to you, who could you ask to support you in your career change?

Come and join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to find your working parent support group.

Know an Inspiring Parent? Ask them to share their story to inspire others.

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