"Apply to everything that falls into the right category and always remember that you are in charge of your future. I believe experience is the key, so be a ‘yes man’ and see how far you can take yourself!"
My first job following my undergraduate degree was a senior role in a private day nursery. My intention was always to start in a role which I knew I would be able to succeed in, and build my way up to more superior roles through gaining experience. I applied to many local day nurseries, and this particular one was very intrigued by my qualifications and experience through my placements from university. At this time, I had also embarked on my Masters degree, and I feel knowing this helped them in understanding how seriously I take my job!
I am currently a room manager for two to three year olds at a private day nursery, and also Deputy Manager for the whole setting. For the majority of the time I am room based and therefore manage both children and staff, whilst completing relevant paperwork and attending to basic requirements (changing displays, etc). For the remainder of the time I am office based, either tending to the manager’s duties in her absence or working alongside her to maintain the functioning of day to day. I am also required to deliver training, work as a mentor for the staff team and conduct meetings with both staff and parents. I am also expected to answer the phones in the absence of management and deliver ‘show arounds’ to prospective parents and visitors.
My leadership and management skills were practically non-existent before university, and I would simply not be able to meet the expectations of my current role without the experience gained during my Early Years Professional (EYP) Status training (run as a fifth pathway alongside my undergraduate degree). I learned how to become a leader and use my academic and professional knowledge to make changes and adaptations with the intention of providing more effective provision for young children. I feel this has been very valuable to my practice and has helped me in broadening my own horizons.
I enjoyed areas of my course where I was able to choose my own focus. This was particularly prevalent during my Masters, but also occurred regularly throughout my undergraduate degree. I feel this was effective for my own learning because I was able to build knowledge that reflected my ambitions and plans for the future.
My biggest piece of advice would be to take every opportunity that comes your way!
Get involved in job fairs and sign up to the university job opportunities newsletter. Apply to everything that falls into the right category and always remember that you are in charge of your future. Be confident during interviews, and if this is something you struggle with there are support sessions in this area to help you! I believe experience is the key, so be a ‘yes man’ and see how far you can take yourself!
In one of the units for my undergrad degree, I was required to do a ‘mini-teach’ for a group of adults. The subject could be anything of my choosing, and therefore I chose something very close to my heart (shyness in childhood). The mini teach went very well, but the reception was far beyond what I expected. Both audience and lecturers approached me following my mini-teach to tell me it was so nice to hear something so prevalent, and yet never mentioned, talked about so openly. From this moment on, I knew I wanted to do more and give more on this subject. I made it my aim to write a book on childhood shyness, and in order to do this it was recommended that I do a Masters Degree to help me focus on the subject and build up my reputation in this area. Since completing my MA, I am now in the processes of publishing the data collected for my dissertation, which I regard as the first steps of publicly sharing my knowledge on the subject. So, I thank those involved in the mini-teach for seeing worth in what I had to offer, and to all those that have supported me in getting to where I am now (to name a few – Karen Browne, Bea Downing, Martin Needham, Claire Goodley). These individuals saw my vision and never gave up on me, and for that I am very grateful!
To put it simply, I loved to learn. I felt that I was part of something worthwhile, and that when I graduated I would be able to do so much for others with the knowledge gained.