Happy Jobmas!

This time last year I indulged in the memories of public sector Christmas past- the celebratory meal at the local Italian that did a lunchtime special for less than a fiver; the Michelin star quality of the canteen Christmas dinner (‘she wants vegetarian gravy!’) and the jolly office Christmas card.

Another jolly public sector party

I was also panicking about my future post 31st March and not sure what I’d be doing with the twenty three hours a day that Homes under the Hammer wasn’t on telly. Post redundancy like the infinity of space was hard to imagine without collapsing another synapse.

It’s not, however, been as doom-laded as I imagined. Since April I’ve set up a business with a colleague and recruited lots of schools. Phrases like ‘tax deductible,’ ‘e marketing’ and ‘business networking’ are part of my working vocabulary and I’ve retired public sector favourites like ‘stakeholder engagement,’ ‘best practice’ and ‘benchmarking.’

I’ve had some work as an independent trainer, have worked for a consultancy and have written for a well-known supermarket chain. I’ve continued my blog and been interviewed for a Guardian article without having to be anonymous.  I’ve also networkedlike a fiend and met some amazing business people.

Worth being made redundant for.

I had been told by a lot of people that being self-employed is a lonely option but I’ve not been lonely at all. I’ve met up with colleagues for coffee on a regular basis and in setting up our business my business partner and I have had to meet a lot, our favourite office being a branch of a well-known coffee chain. We make phone calls, send emails, sign cheques, check out eBay, plan training and design learning resources in our ‘office.’ NB: one of those items is not strictly work related.

It was after one of our meetings that I checked my phone for email and found and interesting message from a local head teacher. It said something along the lines of (and I may be paraphrasing here):

You know how you said you’d rather chew your own leg off rather than go back into school? You’d better sharpen your teeth and break out the salt and pepper because I’d like to offer you a job.

She went on to offer me the acting deputy headship at her school while her deputy is on maternity leave. Perhaps I’d like to meet her for a coffee in the ‘office’ and talk about it.

I discussed the proposition with Mr R who was very supportive. I then phoned my mother who said, ‘excuse while I faint,’ and then fell about laughing. Thanks mum.

I met with the head teacher and we worked out a deal: I’d take the job for three days a week so I can continue with my other projects and will remain self-employed to make the tax/national insurance/pensions thing my responsibility and so as not to confused HMRC. A few days after I accepted the post, the head teacher found someone to fill the post the remaining two days.  I’ll be very busy but it’s not class based and I’m very much looking forward to it. I like to think that maybe the universe has come good after a crappy start to 2011.

So my 2012 is set to be busy, challenging and exciting. Just don’t ask me what I do for a living if I bump into you at a party.

Happy festive season and a happy new year to my readers. Thank you for your support over the last fifteen months and I’ll see you next year.

I was a public sector reject

Happy monthiversary to me! It’s almost five weeks since I was in gainful employment.

My final day at work was strange indeed. It began with me struggling to put a large pot plant in my car which was parked outside the training rooms of the professional development centre. As the wind slammed my car door shut for the third time I let out a loud expletive (rhymes with luck) only to realise that the window was open and an entire room of people was staring at me, mouths open. Bad enough but then I realised the room was full of the most senior leaders in the council receiving their CRaPP training. Oops.

I left at noon, arms full of pen pots, folders and spare jackets (the office was always icy in winter). A colleague and I left together for moral support and said goodbye cheerfully to everyone. I had a box of chocs for the dinner ladies so popped down to the canteen to say goodbye and….burst into tears in the middle of the canteen. I was folded into the not insubstantial bosom of the head dinner lady much to the bewilderment of the diners.

The dinner ladies: the ones who think liver pâté is vegetarian, who incinerate toasted sandwiches and whose baked potatoes taste like old army boots. I have no idea why I ended up clutched to a lady in a tabard, a box of crushed Quality Street melting between us.

Minutes after leaving the office, my pass card was deactivated. By 9am the day after, my e-mail account was deactivated so that out of office message disappeared and my P45 had arrived. Efficiency that I had never experienced in all my time with the council. I had been well and truly deleted like one of those Egyptian Pharaohs whose face is chipped off their statues when they die.

Fast forward a few weeks and schools are back and most of the bank holidays have passed. I’ve been meeting with colleagues and planning and drumming up business. Schools are quite rightly cautious at the moment because of their budget concerns but there is small, fine trickle of interest there.

It’s a brave new world out there and it’s time I stopped yearning after my job and started looking forward.

It’s all me, me me

I’ve decided that 2011 will be the year of me.

 I was brought up to always put others first and I’ve dutifully followed this credo all my life. As a teacher you’re always at the beck and call of others- the students, the parents, the local authority, the head teacher- and I’ve managed to carry this attitude over into my consultancy work. Of course I can come to your school/ meeting at ridiculous o’clock! And of course I’ll cancel my social life to run a last minute training session for cabinet members who don’t bother turning up! I think this is a particular problem for us gals, we want to please people and make them happy.

 I was once on leave out shopping in the summer when a school phoned me in a panic. They were printing their stationery for the year ahead and needed me to send them a logo that was only at my work computer and could I do it before 3 o’clock please? Did I put back the things I was going to buy at the shop, drive all the way to the office (which was luckily open), fire up my computer, find the logo, send it to the school, shut down my computer and drive home again having ruined my shopping trip? Hell, yeah.

 But no more, I cry. I’m putting myself first and my friends and family are up there too. I started today by not volunteering to train governors tomorrow evening. I shall be slumped in front of the telly in my slanket catching up rubbish programmes from Sky+ instead.

 So here are my new goals.

1)     Network, network, network.

In the public sector we’re a bit lazy at this but I’m learning how to do it. I’m actually pretty shy so this is way out of my comfort zone but I’m doing well so far. I’m not afraid to ask for help or contacts and people so far have been delighted to help.

2)     Just say no, kids.

No to extra work, no to evening work, no to too many meetings, no, non, nein. Unless you’re a school. In which case it’s yes.

3)     Take time to learn new stuff.

The other day I found myself buying lots of helpful tomes on the interwebulator. Not self-help books you understand, just books that can help with my new portfolio career. They arrived yesterday and I’ve already found out lots of useful information.

4)     Make more effort to widen my friendship circle.

That stupid shyness really restricts me but I’m making more of an effort. I’ve already contacted some friends I haven’t seen for a while to make dates to meet. I’m not going to be too tired from work to go out and have fun. Or to network.

5)     Take time to plan.

I need to spend time planning my new career and planning properly. It won’t happen unless I do.

6)     Stop whingeing.

Whingeing has been my default setting since the redundancy notice. I will try hard not to whinge about things I can’t change. But I reserve the right to still whinge about the government.

 So wish me luck on my journey and thank you supporting me via this blog, it’s very much appreciated.

What are your work resolutions for 2011?

What now?

I’ve been weighing up my post-redundancy work options and considering new career options by analysing my skills:

Skill: good at organising stuff.

Solution: become wedding planner.

But: apt to be found gibbering in corner if shouted at by Bridezilla.

Skill: gardening

Solution: whip off bra and become the new Charlie Dimmock.

But: on second thoughts…

 

Skill: mildly amusing.

Solution: become stand up comedian.

But: never quite sure if people are laughing with me or just at me.

 

Skill: singing.                                                                         

Solution: sign up for next year’s x factor.

But: I’m not doing it for my Nan, my kids or my three legged dog.

Skill: huge and age-inappropriate knowledge of pop music and trivia.

Solution: become the person who makes those rather literal song choices on Homes Under The Hammer.

But: that position is already taken.

 

Skill: education adviser

Solution: become private education adviser.

But: hmmmmm.

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