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Future after furlough

Joy Thomas, of Wellingborough bedford college HNC graphic design

With furlough ending in the autumn many people are wanting to make career changes to secure their futures. There is a demand for engineering employees across a range of industries from manufacturing to construction.

In education, those who have worked in the “real world” and can bring that expertise to a teaching role, are greatly valued. Both career paths require degree-level qualifications.

“The good news is these can be accessed via courses which can fit around the ‘day job’,” said Charlie Whewell Head of Higher Education and Partnerships, of The Bedford College Group,

“Many learners find that our Part-time courses (from one day a week) and even Full-time (from two days a week) can be flexible enough, to fit around life and work. This means the can complete degree-level courses whilst holding down the job that pays the bills, or while managing family commitments.


From surgery to classroom

Kara Soan studied Veterinary Nursing and Bioveterinary Science at Bristol University after finishing her A-Levels. She then spent four years working as a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) in various clinical settings.

“I noticed that a few of the student nurses seemed to gravitate towards me for help and advice,” says Kara, “So I started to mentor some of them on an informal basis. I didn’t necessarily see myself having a career in teaching, but it seemed like a very natural progression, so I decided to investigate it as an option.” 

Kara decided to leave her full-time job and work as a locum to get some more experience in different areas. After that she enrolled on to a Level 3 course in Education & Training (previously known as PTLLS) at a local college and got a job lecturing at the College of Animal Welfare in Huntingdon, which offers courses from Level 3/A-Level standard up to Level 6/Degree level. 

“To improve my teaching practice I wanted to do a PGCE,” explains Kara. “I wanted to find an attended programme within a commutable distance of work. When I met Mark Tinney at Tresham College I knew that this was the course that would suit me. He is the best teacher I have ever had. The PGCE programme was challenging at times and he really helped me get through.”

Having experienced both higher education settings, Kara noticed a difference between the traditional lecture and seminar style of teaching at university, compared to the more personalised approach provided at college. Kara tells us “I really enjoyed learning from peers and having a conversational learning environment, it was a brilliant place to ask questions and meet others in FE/HE teaching”. 

So what advice would she give to others thinking of making a career change:  “To anyone thinking of doing it but worrying that it will be too difficult, I would say go for it! Everyone can bring something to the table, so embrace it and enjoy the experience.” 


Creative joy revisited

Joy Thomas, of Wellingborough, worked in a variety of different settings before getting back into education at Tresham College. She had studied a degree in Surface Decoration, of textiles and fabrics, at De Montfort University in 2001 but, having found it difficult to secure work in the sector, she put her art and design career to one side. 

Fast forward to Summer 2021, and Joy has completed her HNC and HND in Graphic Design and is setting up her own creative business

Although Joy thought coming back into education could be quite daunting as a mature student, she thoroughly enjoyed it.  

“There felt like a lot of work on the HNC, but I managed it. I was then able to bring that experience on to the HND. I gained Distinctions in both, which was great. It was useful updating my software skills so I could step back into design.

“I really enjoyed my time at Tresham College, it was so reviving and inspiring. I would recommend it to others who are looking for a change of direction.”

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