Self-employed, teaching English as a foreign language online, and absolutely loves it.
Retraining to work
For years I had thought about teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) because I felt it would enable me to travel. But I had never really got around to doing the training, getting the TEFL certificate that you need to work in this space. So when Covid happened, and I found myself out of work at 55, I thought this was the time to do it. “It did feel like a bit of a leap of faith though, I didn’t know how hard it was going to be or how long it would take, but I’m am so pleased I did it.”
After I completed the relevant qualifications, I applied online for tutoring work. There are a couple of places that advertise for this. I had to produce a video online which was totally nerve-wracking. I had never done this before and was worried about how I would sound, how it would come across. It was a whole new experience. I got a job and started with a Japanese Korean company. It was really only very basic pay, but as my confidence grew I felt ready to register for another organisation where they advertise you. It was another video and a new pitch but it has meant I have gradually built up my experience, my business and with it my prices. I am really busy now, in fact I have to turn students away sometimes. I am so thankful, I work the hours that I need to, currently 4 days a week, I am off on a Thursday and at weekends, which I’ve never really had all my life, and I don’t have a lot of outgoings.
Helping people achieve their potential
Despite doing lots of different jobs, there’s mainly been an element of teaching and helping people achieve what they want to do. Before covid I was setting up a community technology training business, tutoring mature adults. I had noticed that lots of people in the local community weren’t confident using their personal tech, like their smart phones or tablets. I reached out to the local community centres and sheltered living centres and found a lot of interest, and started to build the business from there, but covid put a stop to that.
Before that I had combined being a foster carer with a part-time role as a student mentor with the further education college, helping students that were struggling with their studies. It worked well, particularly giving me the summers off to be with the kids. After about 10 years of fostering, I felt I needed more stability and time to be able to support my son through his GCSEs. So I gave up the fostering, in fact I gave up both roles, as I went straight into start up mode.
It’s easy to lose confidence
I have always worked. I was a single Mum since my son was 2, and he’s at University now. But I think when an employer looks at a CV like mine, lots of different work, times, places, well I think people might be put off by how much I have done and how different it all is.
Finding a job at 55 + is extremely difficult. Maybe it was the jobs I was applying for, or maybe the wording of the job descriptions. They were looking for a lot of qualifications and specific experience, which I didn’t feel I had. The important thing is, until I did the Brave Starts programme, “I didn’t recognize all the experience I had accumulated. Learning about other people’s experiences and that I wasn’t on my own or this wasn’t just happening to me was amazing.” At this time in life, people can have a wobble in their confidence and abilities. It helped me realise ‘I can do this’.
Never give up
Life is good. I’ve got a great work/ life balance. I can work from anywhere with my laptop and a wifi connection. But if you had asked me 2 or 3 years ago you would have got a different answer. So “my advice is never give up. If you have something that you wanted to do when you are younger, but ended up in a mundane job for most of your life because of other responsibilities. Well never give up. Just go and do it. It’s so fulfilling.”