Studying whilst Working

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A Mini Biography

THE UNIVERSITY OF LIFE – When I was studying A-Levels at college I had intended to carry on to get a degree.  I was predicted good results, visited Oxford and Cambridge universities and interviewed for a place at Durham.  Unfortunately, as with most things in life, it didn’t go quite according to plan.  My results were not as good as expected so I didn’t get an offer from my first choice university.  My friends and tutors encouraged me to take a place through clearing, but by that point I had given up – my pride was hurt, so I decided to buck the trend amongst my peers and get a job.

A CAREER IN RETAIL – I started as a Christmas temp at a record shop, stayed on permanently, and over a number of years, was promoted to supervisor, assistant manager and eventually manager.  I loved my time working in retail, I was passionate about music and film and loved meeting new people every day.  It gave me great experience in marketing, organisation, responsibility and managing staff.  The best part was that I was independent!  I earned enough money to buy my own flat whilst my friends left university with debts and no clearer ideas about careers.  I had no regrets at all about my choice to enter the workplace instead of studying.

A CHANGE OF HEART – Eventually the novelty of retail work wore off so I moved into office admin work.  After fourteen years working at a small, family run company I started to get itchy feet and a wandering mind –  where was I going with my career? I needed a change.  I started to realise that more and more employers were looking for graduate level applicants, and began to regret that I hadn’t gone to university.  So at the grand old age of ‘thirty-something’, I decided to prove something to myself and get a degree.

BACK TO SCHOOL – I couldn’t afford to quit work and study full time, so I decided that part time distance learning was the best fit for me.  I enrolled with the Open University in October 2014, doing a BA Honours Degree in English Language and Literature.  I’ve never looked back.  Although it is sometimes difficult to motivate myself after a full day at work, I stick to a strict timetable, working a couple of hours on weeknights and longer study sessions on a weekend.  The blended tuition means I can work at my own pace at home, but also attend monthly face to face tutorials and workshops – a great opportunity to meet new people and exchange ideas.

Returning to education as a mature student has been a real game changer for me, it has boosted my confidence, given me new skills, broadened my horizons and I’ve made some great new friends over the last couple of years.  Although I will be over forty by the time I graduate, I’m so pleased that I challenged myself and this is my new mantra – It’s never too late!

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford

Kate – Business Support Co-ordinator

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