Career change pays off

22nd September 1995 at 01:00
Celia Popovic remembers her early days in FE teaching as chaotic and insecure.

An arts graduate with six years experience of training in the computer industry she took a step into the unknown four years ago when she left a management job, where she had a company car and earned Pounds 20,000 a year, to go into part-time teaching.

"I just handed in my notice and left. It seemed the only way to get into FE teaching was to look for part-time work, so I started phoning around colleges in a 50 mile radius."

Today she works full time for the Open University's arts and education faculties developing distance learning materials using IT and other relevant computer-based techniques. She's making a successful career in education and is the envy of many former colleagues in FE for the speed with which she moved into higher education.

But Celia, 35, a mother of two from Birmingham, says without luck, persistence and a supportive partner, changing careers would have been impossible. "I took a huge risk. I had a degree, but no teaching qualifications and really had to feel my way at first."

She soon found part-time lecturing work at Solihull College, teaching GCSE and A-level English, and picked up hours at other colleges in the area, teaching assertiveness courses and, later, degree-level classes in Black American Literature.

Training and career development was largely left to her own initiative. She soon established a support group with other part-timers new to FE.

She studied part-time for the City and Guilds "730" FE teaching qualification and later funded her own MEd at Birmingham University.

"Because I felt so insecure I wanted to do whatever I could to make my life more secure - so I pushed for full-time jobs constantly and took on the Masters degree to improve my employability."

Eventually she was offered a half-time contract post at Solihull running the open language learning centre on a job-share scheme.

This term she started her a job at the Open University in Milton Keynes on a five year contract. Four years after leaving her job she has a secure post and is earning a compatible salary.

"Going into FE was a big risk. But it's worth it if you're self-motivated and persistent enough to go for what you want"

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