My experience of being a career changer

Jacqui RhodesMy name is Jacqui and I switched a six-year career in London for teaching maths in a new city. Here's how it's going!

I had always thought about being a teacher. When I was at university, I chose to learn about maths teaching pedagogy and spent some time in local schools. I loved it. But, at the time, I couldn't shake the feeling that there were so many different careers out there - how could I know what I wanted to do, at the age of 21?

I went on to spend two years as a management consultant, advising on private equity transactions, before spending four years in strategic and analytical roles for one of the UK's biggest supermarkets. Although I loved the intellectual challenge, and the people that I worked with, a part of me still wanted to experience teaching. I wanted to see what it was like to make a difference to a young person's life, every day. Of course, the thought of taking a pay cut and being a student again was daunting. However, the maths scholarship meant that I could pay for the course upfront and not worry about money during my PGCE year. I applied through UCAS in April, moved cities in September, and have just finished my first school placement.

In truth, I wasn't quite prepared for how new everything would feel! That said, I really love the university element of my course, which reminds me of the maths teaching module I enjoyed at university. After completing the first few weeks of my course at university, I was excited to get into a classroom!

My favourite part of my first placement was getting to know the pupils. At the start, they were unsure of me - how would I react if they misbehaved or answered a question? I was unsure of them, too - how would they react to the task I set and how could I motivate them? The pupils’ shyness didn't last long and soon I had two excitable classes on my hands! I learned their individual habits, what made them tick, and a little about managing a classroom. Their cheeky smiles and minor misdemeanours became the highlight of my day. I am sad to leave my classes behind, to move onto the next placement, as I already feel so invested in their progress. But I am looking forward to experiencing a new school, seeing how they do things differently, and developing my newly learned skill set.

My advice to anyone thinking about teaching maths would be to give it a go. I'm certainly not the only career-changer – you’ll find many likeminded people. Plus, you will never know until you try!

By Jacqui Rhodes