The main thing is how much happier I am. I feel job satisfaction in the real sense of the word. It can be tiring, it can be hard work, sometimes it can even be upsetting.
"I genuinely do go home thinking 'I’ve done something meaningful and worthwhile today.' And I didn’t feel that in any other career."
This will probably surprise people, but my work-life balance has changed for the better!
When I worked in Egyptology, I would get swept up in research and be working until 11 at night. When I worked in marketing, there was always more that could be done, and because you’re working to profit margins, it can feel as though the work never stops. Emailing clients on weekends, on the way to the shops, or even when you’re ill.
That just doesn’t happen now. I feel much more autonomous in that I manage my own workload. It’s my choice whether I spend some time chatting to colleagues in the staffroom and then have to work a bit of the evening, or whether I really crack on in the day and then spend time with my daughter in the evening.
I do think about work in terms of, how will I get that point across or what should I do in that lesson? But I don’t take it home in the same way I used to.
Of course, I think about my students outside of school and I hope they’re okay, but it’s just not the same as when you’re in an industry worrying about whether you’re going to get promoted or if a client’s happy or not. I can leave some of my work at work, which is really nice.
Before I started, I worried that I would find it hard to relate to 13 and 14 year olds. And that’s something that’s surprised me a huge amount.
I was in the park the other day, and a group of boys were being a bit boisterous, nothing terrible, just being silly, but I could see they were making another child a bit uncomfortable. So, I went over and had a little chat, and asked them to tone it down. My friend couldn’t believe it! And a year ago, I wouldn’t have done that, I would have wanted to, but I wouldn’t have had the guts.
"Now I know that teenagers aren’t scary at all, they’re just people, like you and me, trying to find their way in the world."
And it's not only Jo and her students that benefit from her career change. Here's what Jo's family, friends, and colleagues think...
“You are happier now and you work hard but you smile about it. And you tell me about school which makes me look forward to secondary school.”
- Alex, Jo’s daughter
“You have found your niche, and you sound more content than you ever have.”
- Larayne, Jo’s mum
“Teaching hasn’t changed Jo; she’s brought who she is to teach. Which is a great thing!"
- Vickie, Jo’s mentor and Head of Department
"Changing careers has allowed Jo to find a happier balance between work and family life. She isn’t less stressed (secondary kids are no picnic!) but the rhythm of teaching suits her better and she finds a job well done more satisfying personally than she did in corporate life.”
- Angus, Jo's husband
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