Sunday, 19 April 2009

A much-needed afternoon tea break

As you can imagine, the reason I called myself "Afternoon Tea Break" to start with is because I started this blog during an afternoon tea break - well, one of many, being your typical tea-gulping Brit. After some of the news I've had this week I reckon I'll need a nice soothing cuppa or two!

Sometimes changing career can really feel like you're taking one step forward and two steps back. Or, in my case, one giant leap forward... and an equally giant leap back.

No sooner had my delight subsided over winning a two-week work experience placement in the office of a national daily broadsheet, I got dealt several setbacks on the job front this week. Not only did I get rejected for the accountancy jobs I'd applied for, I found out I won't qualify for the full entitlement of Job-seekers Allowance from the government, on the grounds that I have savings, no children and my own home. I had to laugh a little. Yeah, I've spent the last four years paying a fair amount of taxes and National Insurance (social security) out of my wages, so you'd have thought I'd qualify for the full entitlement on losing my job, but apparently not. Ah well.

I could sit here and moan about it some more, but it would serve no purpose so I won't. It did make me realise that my little career-changing plan may have to undergo some tweaking.

Some people are able to jump straight from one career to another, but I am not in that fortunate position. As you know, the original plan was to use the accountancy jobs to build up some savings to cope with a fall in income, especially as I was sure I would have to either re-train or take some courses to get into either of my chosen fields. However, with accountancy jobs very thin on the ground at the moment - most of the chartered accountants that have been made redundant are newly-qualified, like me - the career change may have to happen a lot sooner than I'd planned. I'd had a chat with a recruitment consultant this week who told me that some of the newly-qualified chartered accountants on his books had been looking for jobs for the past seven months, so my situation (i.e. having been out of work for two months) wasn't so unusual.

"Seven months?!?" I screeched, "but I can't be out of a job for seven months!!! How on earth do these people survive for that long???"

I didn't get a definite answer, but it really didn't matter. I realised I had to kick-start something, and soon. While I was glad that I had already embarked on my distance-learning A-Level courses - English Literature is hopefully helping my writing ability and Sociology is giving me a fascinating insight into that field - the original idea was to study them alongside a full-time job. Despite hating accountancy, it was still in the original plan to use them to fund my next move, but obviously if there are no jobs (as well as the fact that I want to quit anyway) then there's no point hanging on, is there? The courses are certainly enjoyable, but not bringing in an income, and career-change or not, we all need something to live on!

So it's back to the drawing board for me; I shall need to re-think the original plan. But not before I take another afternoon tea break.
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  1. Wow, seven months sounds really harsh. I find it hard to imagine that they would have been putting in much effort to find somewhere new. Keep at it though, something is bound to come along eventually.

  2. Thanks, G. Hopefully I won't be out of work for as long as that! :-)

  3. I think it's great that you're doing the distance learning courses during this time. Who are you doing them through? I'd definitely be interested in checking that out. :)

  4. Hi Laura,

    I've got details in one of the 3 posts I did in March, but I don't mind sharing again. I'm doing the A-Levels (a UK pre-university qualification normally taken at age 17 or 18) with the National Extension College, website For 17 and 18 year olds, these are normally done full-time at school or college, so I was very fortunate to find a place that let me do them as a distance-learning student and if I like them and get decent grades, I suppose I could even enrol in university as a mature student!

    If I wanted to do a degree by distance-learning, then I'd probably look at the Open University at I'm not sure what the US equivalent of these institutions are, but if you're thinking of coming to London these are the two I know of. Hope it helps :-)

    P.S. Thanks for linking to my site!

  5. Thanks so much and sorry I had to make you dig through those. I'll take a look at both and thank you for passing these on! All the best!

  6. Glad it helped!

    Forgot to mention in my previous comment: the website is a good website for looking up all sorts of courses generally, whether it's cooking or knitting or creative writing, and not necessarily qualifications-based courses. Good luck!

  7. ATB, found you! Your name ATB didn't gel with you blog name on the follow widget.

    Thanks for following my Peru Blog.

    Afternoon tea break, I have those all day, but I am a dedicated coffee drinker (not addicted, mind you).

    I am not a career person, far too old for that, but I found your blog to be insightful. I am an English language consultant in Brazil, never (well, hardly ever) out of work, fortunately.


  8. Thanks for the comment AV! Yeah, I know the ATB name has nothing to do with the title of the blog, but I think this post explains why I chose it :-) I couldn't use my real name as obviously my recruitment consultants and potential accountancy employers don't know I'm trying to change career... yet. Loved the Peru pictures and am glad to be following your blog!