I’ve been daydreaming recently, you know, like you do over a Bank Holiday when you are lazing around in the garden. If I had known what I know now 20 years ago would I have followed a different path? I confess, my career path has always been a bit fluid.
In my late teens – early twenties, I believed in having a 9-5 job (didn’t matter what industry), being married and having 2.4 children. That changed when I hit 23. I saw an advert about being a teacher and decided there and then to look into how to achieve ‘being a teacher’. I had no clue about higher education at the point. In fact, when I went into Plymouth University’s reception area (I went to Marjons in the end) I didn’t know which prospectus I needed to pick up! Undergraduate or post-graduate…who knew?! My good grade GCSEs and A-levels were out of date by then so I started the long, and often arduous, path to being a graduate. I changed my mind about being a teacher during some temp work in a school during my 2nd year summer break. No way would I subject myself to that much stress! Typing up hundreds of letters to parents about their little angel’s bad behaviour were enough to put me off that particular career path! So, plan c needed to be found.
I spoke to my tutor about my concerns about what the heck I could do post graduation and he said that I am fantastic at research. That put a nugget of an idea into my head – I’m going to be a researcher! A post-graduate degree in Social Research Methods followed, only to find that this would mean inconsistent casual contracts and no stability. For goodness sake! Plan D!
I then became a massively over-qualified library assistant within a university environment. Not meeting my potential in the slightest but I was just happy to have found some stability and regular income. Something I hadn’t had for the previous 4+ years due to being a student. I got stuck in a rut. With hindsight, I was frustrated and kept coming up with innovative ideas just to keep me sane. I designed and registered a design for orthotic shoes, I even had meetings with various University lecturers to pick their brains about how to turn my design into a real material thing. I’ve shelved my plans for world domination in the world of orthotic shoes….for now. I’m just biding my time. I don’t know enough about manufacturing….yet. Maybe it will be a plan O in later life?!
I started ME Foggy Dog in 2014 and have learned so many invaluable skills through this ‘hobby’ that has lead me to appear on TV, radio and in various press publications. All of my previous work experience has helped me to create this global brand. My work experience has given me skills in communication, networking and serious business stuff like data protection and legislation. I had been playing with the idea of turning Foggy into a training organisation (Teaching! I have come full circle!). But, even if I manage to set up the organisation my target market would be incredibly difficult to sign up for training (In general, healthcare people do not believe M.E is a real illness. Why would they pay for training?!). I have decided that is one particular mountain range I am reluctant to climb.
Plan D started in 2015 when I became self-employed in 2015. I started Words Angel. I offer social media marketing and proofreading support to businesses. Again, all of my work experience has helped me to build this business. Thanks to ME Foggy Dog, I now have an extensive working knowledge of social media marketing, PR, building brands and blogging.
Plan E is playing on my mind at the moment. I may have decided against turning Foggy into a training organisation but I want to capitalise on the successful charity brand (charity brand…what does that actually mean?!) that has been steadily building over the past 4 years. The current World Tour finishes in 38 days, I’ll be giving myself a complete break from it for a couple of months but then I need to start thinking about where Team Foggy’s path is heading and how we can continue to make an impact. If I can find a way to make an income from my advocacy that would be even better! One thing is for sure, I need to give it some sort of legal structure, that’s going to take a lot of research… see?! I’m good at research!
My advice to any school leaver or recent University graduate is to not sweat about where your career path is heading. Be fluid. You have no idea what obstacles you will face in the future (health, family commitments, redundancy) or what action you will have to take to overcome them. Unless you are 100% resolute in becoming a lawyer/doctor/vet etc, see what comes your way, seize every opportunity.