Psychological wellbeing practitioner and careers consultant Louise shares the cycles of Discover, Focus, and Action that have shaped her career path.
With 4 degrees and over ten years of work experience spanning the public, private and voluntary sectors, I have not had the most streamlined of careers. But my ‘non-traditional’ journey through the world of work has satisfied some of my key career values; variety, intellectual curiosity and being able to make a difference to those I work with.
I hope by sharing my career story it inspires you to think creatively about what a career can look like and how reflecting and learning from each role can really help to guide you forward.
Decisions, decisions, decisions!
Decision making has never been my strong point. So, trying to figure out what I wanted to do was never going to elicit a straightforward answer!
My first (in)decision came when a few months into my undergraduate degree I realised I wanted to change subjects. After starting with a BA Tourism Management, I actually graduated with a BSc Criminology and Psychology!
I had never really had a ‘career path’ in mind and in my final year somehow found myself at a Teaching Careers Fair (looking back I think teaching felt safe, I knew what it meant, after all, I had just spent 17 years in education!). After engaging with some of the employers I applied and was successful in gaining a place as an Assistant Director at Explore Learning. This role was fantastic, I worked in a small but supportive and super friendly team and the work was challenging, varied and gave responsibility from day one.
After around 6 months I reassessed the situation and concluded that whilst I loved the more commercial aspects of the role, working with young children was not for me.
I began searching for marketing positions, as I had enjoyed that aspect of the job. I looked for roles still related to education as thought that would give me the best chance. I was lucky enough to find an international marketing position with a private college in London. I began the role and it was fast-paced, exciting and I loved the travel; South Korea, Vietnam, Morocco.
After a couple of years, I was losing my passion for the target-driven world and realised what I valued most from the role was supporting the students.
I began researching student support roles in higher education and (eventually…it took nearly 6 months of searching and making applications!) landed a role as a trainee careers consultant. I was surrounded by colleagues who genuinely loved what they were doing, and it was such a refreshing and inspiring environment. As part of my training, I completed a part-time Masters, and then decided to embark on further study in psychology as my love for learning was reignited!
As my role progressed, I began to take more of an interest in mental health, disability, and diversity and wanted to be in a job where this was my primary focus.
Whilst searching for job opportunities I became aware of Student Minds, a mental health charity supporting students in higher education. It seemed like such a perfect fit! I began a project management role with the charity and was instantly struck by the team’s passion and drive to make a difference to the state of student mental health. I loved the role and was able to learn from other professionals, working collaboratively to disseminate work.
I missed the client facing aspects of my previous roles and started to consider whether a position with more of a clinical capacity would suit me better.
I had heard of the role of psychological wellbeing practitioner and found a trainee role advertised through NHS jobs. After a gruelling interview process, I was delighted to be selected. I have recently completed the training and am now a qualified psychological wellbeing practitioner working in a service jointly run by the NHS and Mind, a mental health charity. It has also given me the flexibility to continue working as a careers consultant in a freelance capacity. The role is challenging and varied, and I am looking forward to seeing where it takes me next. I have my eye on developing some specialist skills around maternal mental health and no doubt further training in the future!
I have learnt a little bit more about my strengths, interests, and values with each experience. Giving myself time to reflect on these has really helped guide my next steps.
The King’s Careers take:
Having a varied career path can be hugely rewarding and exciting – and the Discover, Focus, and Action stages of career planning are part of a continuing cycle that you will return to throughout your working life. Knowing yourself and allowing yourself to change and to grow will keep you following your passions and crafting your own career.
For guidance on how to identify your passions and how to choose a career, check out our interactive courses on discovering yourself, what you can do, what you can offer, and decision making. The self-reflective skills you will learn in these courses will give you the tools to make empowered career choices, wherever your career path may take you in the future.