The sad thing is I can’t remember and I regularly ask people that question. I am sure it involved being a princess and doing very little.
The dream would be to have the business I run now, replicated and running in many other areas. I would love to encourage people to be the best that they can be and realise that life is not a dress rehearsal. I would love to put the profits into providing access to education for those who cannot afford it.
I set up my own training company but I also opened a small school as a rural enterprise to allow unemployed facilitators to share their skills with people who need them at a fraction of the cost of getting private education. There was a recruitment embargo here within the public sector and many really good people have lost their jobs and are feeling despondent. At the same time people need their skills but can’t afford to get private tuition.
I taught as a TEFL teacher for years, I also taught a lot of adult education courses. In 2008 I worked with refugees and asylum seekers as their English teacher. I discovered huge issues involved in helping people to get back on their feet. I volunteered with a local support group for immigrants and while volunteering there I heard an ad on the radio for the 'Vodafone World of Difference' programme.
The programme offered to pay people to do a job they believed needed doing and while I thought it was a real daydream to even apply, I wrote up an application saying that I knew of a job I could do well. I went through a really nerve wracking process but faced my fears and was given the opportunity to become Education Training and Employment facilitator with the charity. I loved the job but at the end of the year the Government cut all the funding for both the charity and the budget for English teachers and if found myself out of a job. My husband also lost his job and we were both really scared about what the future would hold. I was asked to train to deliver a programme called “Winning New Opportunities” to adults to help them stay positive while unemployed and to help them focus on the skills they still had to offer. After training on the course I realised I still had a lot to offer and to stop feeling sorry for myself.
I then decided to start my own business.
I started the business in 2010.
This is a great question. I used to have a gnawing feeling in my stomach on a Sunday afternoon/Evening and knew that I had to change that. I now have arranged it that I have no clients before 12 on a Monday and I ease myself in gently to the week. I start by playing music I like and drinking coffee and waking up properly. I do work Saturdays so I deserve a nice Monday!
Every day is different. I get up early and get kids ready for school, do housework and open up the training centre. I deal with students, teachers, kids, companies, but every day is different. Some days I am teaching away from home. The most important thing for me is to work around my kids and I try in as much as possible to pick them up from school and fit it around my day. My husband is great and we try to fit it in that both of us look after the childcare.
Truthfully the best part is that when my kids are sick I can be there for them. Also it’s when people get a job they like or start back at college and they send you a nice message a few months after saying they are happy - it’s very rewarding.
I worry a lot about money and security. I have to keep thinking on my feet all the time and try to come up with new ideas. As someone who is self employed there is no holiday pay and I can’t blame anyone else for the bad ideas, they are usually mine...
You need to be a good listener, optimistic and resilient.
I would love to working about 3 days a week, have my business running itself and devote time to writing for pleasure.
The economy here in Ireland has changed dramatically. There is no job security and we need to be more creative and rely on thinking outside the box to survive. The government has stopped employing new teachers and graduates are all emigrating and sharing their skills abroad. I would love to change the way people think about that.
People need to get a third level qualification. I went a long way round my training but believe you are never too old to retrain. I taught someone who was 83 last year. I am always reading and educating myself on new ways to look at things. I never stop learning.
I am very fortunate to be part of a network called Social Entrepreneurs in Ireland. They provide mentoring, advice and support for people who come up with new ideas for solving social or environmental issues. I also had a wonderful boss who encouraged me to return to education.
I think we can never have enough words of encouragement from people. You need someone to believe in you and you need to learn to believe in yourself. You need to learn to be resilient on the bad days and you need to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. I mean that learning to cope with setbacks is not something we learn in school and yet we all need it.
I think sometimes a fresh eye on something you are struggling with is welcome. It’s also great if it’s not someone you know well as then they are not just being 'nice', they are looking objectively at a situation.
I think I have been very fortunate to have been given opportunities and encouragement by people and I often wonder if I didn’t get that, where I would be? So, yes I would be happy to pass that on to anyone in need.
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