My working life started when I was a child of 16 years old; 40-years ago you could leave school at 16. In those years I have slaved for wages in at least 25 different roles [see below]. I started work in the mid-70s with no computers and when the best technology could offer was a calculator. I managed to move haphazardly through different jobs [my working life could never be called a career] keeping pace with changes through continuous learning and finishing in a role where I work remotely.
Some of these jobs have been wonderful and rewarding and I have felt I was making a difference, whereas others have been demeaning, boring or really just pointless. The shortest period any of these jobs tied me to the nine-to-five was one month and my longest time in any single role was five years and six months. There were times when I was working three jobs at a time to maximise income and savings for our travelling plans.
In all of these roles I have grown; I have benefited from gaining skills and knowledge and each new role has helped me to understand something more about who I am. The period from being a Community Development and Health Worker until I left my role as a Community Centre Manager was what you might consider the apex of my working life. As a Community Development Worker I was an independent lone worker and my ‘team’ were the inspiring residents of the area I worked in. These were people who were outside the focus of many public services and they taught me about resilience and the importance of never making snap judgements. My next job in a small charity put me in a supportive team of two other skilled and knowledgeable co-workers and an inspirational and caring manager who fostered a learning environment where it was safe to be creative and make mistakes; consequently we achieved great things. I attempted to take everything I had learnt to my next role as a Public Health Manager, where I was lucky enough to be able to recruit my own team of 20 staff and worked tirelessly to support, nurture and invest in those people so that we became a close-knit team that produced fantastic public health work and gained national recognition.
My paid work in chronological order:
- Receptionist at an opticians – first full-time job.
- Waiting staff in a hotel
- Payroll clerk [at 5.5 years this is the longest I have held any job] – this was the late 70s, I was working in the private sector and encountered my first computer.
- Payroll clerk – I twiddled my thumbs for two days a week, tough in the days before the internet.
- Administrator sorting and filing microfiche and plans relating to a submarine.
- Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths [the best job] – no computers here just ink and fountain pens, I used to come home with blue-black ink splattered up my shirts.
- Customer Service clerk [after being a mum for a few years].
- Community Development Worker – [after a break to complete some qualifications] my first experience of working in the charity sector.
- Cleaner [while at university and I graduated at the age of 35].
- Chef in a Mexican restaurant – while studying food preparation.
- Youth Hostel assistant warden [in the Lake District and the Peak District).
- Community Development contractor (carrying out training and development sessions with community groups].
- Community Development and Health Worker in the NHS – my first NHS role, supporting community action across two areas.
- Community Development Worker in voluntary sector development – back with a charity and an inspiring and supportive team who I learnt so much from.
- Public Health Manager [I also achieved a post-graduate diploma].
- Community Centre Manager
- Public Health Co-ordinator
- GP Receptionist
- Hospital administrator
- Public Health contractor [carrying out consultations with the public].
- Public Health administrator [after our gap year].
- Hospital medical secretary – a very small cog in a big wheel.
- Travel writer
- Public Health administrator