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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Career Contemplation and Historical Ignorance.

This week an ex colleague and friend whose job is Careers Lead at Truro & Penwith College, contacted me asking the following questions;

· What were your interests when you were a student and what was your career aim?

· What do you currently do and what is the main focus?

· What advice would you give students about their future career?

Why? Because he's “especially interested in a theme for National Careers Week on why/how people arrived in their career. National Careers Week runs from 1st – 6th March.”

Why ask me? Because when we worked for the same company I was a big cheese, Head of HR. Tim worked hard providing advice and guidance to our clients. He asked to see if I can assist in a project he's developing.

He’s always giving guidance on developing networks so thought he would look at his own! So if I'm happy to provide answers to the above, he would want to save these to act as career profiles. These will be a really valuable resource for students, showing people already established in their careers, sharing their insights and giving some level of advice. It also creates curiosity about the world of work and the journey people take.

I thought, I’m happy to pontificate on all sorts of topics, so why not help?

I’ve not really thought about these particular questions because lots of questions have been churning about in my noggin in recent months;

· What were your interests when you were a student and what was your career aim?

I went to a teacher training college. A fantastic Victorian pile in Surrey. Within a short walk was the Kennedy Memorial, the Magna Carta Memorial and the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial. A very historic part of the country. Check out the history. I knew nothing about it at the time. But I did know how to get to the Students Union bar. I was a young Cornish boozer. More interested in beer and girls than study. I scraped through my course. And my teaching career was all the worse for it. For me I admire my daughter Abbi’s approach. Live a little first, make a decision with some experiences under your belt. But even as recently as the 70s, life was different. Both my elder brothers were training to teach so I seemed to have little choice. Education isn’t just the preserve of the young.

My interests were fundamentally simple. Don’t rock the boat. Follow the path even if it’s not really what you want. But what was good I actually did learn something useful. I learnt to teach. Those skills have served me well in knowledge, confidence and the ability to talk about it (always useful in interviews).

So the first question I would answer like this. Find something you really want to do. Do the research, be interested, be interesting. Then do whatever is needed and do it to the best of your ability. Focus on your aim but if/when you come to a fork in the road the easy path may not be the best one. Choose with care.

The second question is a bit more challenging to answer;

· What do you currently do and what is the main focus?

In my Facebook profile I describe myself as the Writer and Ideas bloke at I’ve been forced into premature retirement by circumstances beyond my control. I’ve become an unreliable, unhealthy, short term prospect. Who would employ me? So I keep busy fiddling with words, carpentry tools and wandering around the garden and countryside when the weather and my diseased body allows.

So my health and my blog is my job. Usually I sit and focus on my blog first thing in the morning. I usually have an idea, but not always. But I sit with my blank page and just start. Inspiration comes. It’s become my job to write my blog. To start with it was simply a way for me to leave a legacy from me to my family. A record of my journey. Stories I’ll not get to tell them. They would never know that when the Second World War broke out in 1939, the statue of Eros was removed for safety and kept at Shoreditch College in Egham. It did not return to Piccadilly Circus again until 1948. There was a room known as the Eros room. It was in the music department but I occasionally attended lectures there. That's how I found out all about it.

When l write my blog, if I wander around the house waiting for inspiration, it may never come. All I need is a fresh brew, a little bit of breakfast, a comfy seat and some tech to write with. If I get my paraphernalia around me I can settle down and start. The ideas formulate and I write. Think of me as Kevin Costner in The Field of Dreams. “If you build it they will come”. And they do.

If writing my blog is now my job, albeit self imposed, I still have to do it as well as I can. One issue I now have is that lots and lots of people read my words. On average I get about 125 reader of each post some may drift up to close to 250 but the blog called “The Embargo has been Lifted" has by this morning had 880 readers. I get a lot of positive, encouraging comments via my website, via Farcebook, by messenger, by email, and sometimes by messenger chat. I have now accumulated enough positive comments to add a little pressure to continue.

It's ok I will.

And of the final question;

· What advice would you give students about their future career?

Work hard and follow your dreams, if this year is anything to go by, be prepared to change. It doesn’t need to be about money. It helps but there’s a bit more to life than loot. Take risks if you can and if you're that way inclined. I was!

What I looked for in my career was and to some extent I still do, is to have a feeling of pride, satisfaction, and being able to stand back and say “A good job well done”. It's all about staying healthy, mentally as well as physically. Get that work/life balance right and I reckon you’ve cracked it. But rest assured there's no crystal ball. The future is always an absolute mystery as we all are only too aware.

I’ll be sending this to my friend. He’s hasn’t asked me to broadcast his request for help but any help we can give to education in general has to be a good thing, especially now.

You might want to join his project and help him out. He can be contacted at

Say Neil sent you.

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