Having been self-employed for the most part of 20 years, in my late 50s and self-financing, I needed to secure employment in order to survive! I had worked nationally and internationally as a work study analyst and software reseller, both computer based and very industry specific. Previous to this phase I had worked in the fitness industry.
The Celtic Tiger had been reduced to a time in history with poor employment prospects a reality. Despite my doubts, I could not afford to give up hope of entering new employment.
What am I going to do? With my overall experiences, I decided a job in administration would be my main goal. I had looked at a number of job specifications and felt I needed a specific qualification in order to stand out amongst the sea of applicants, and yes, probably considerably younger. Sitting myself down with a blank page, I drew a line down the middle. On one side I listed my existing skills and assets as I perceived them, on the other side gaps that I also perceived agencies would require satisfying the market.
I had computer experience using DOS and several versions of MS Windows, all self-taught. It was time to upskill and fill in some of the gaps.
In September 2012 I took a very deep breath and convinced myself to spend the last of my savings to invest in my potential future employment by signing up for a Pitman Training Medical Secretarial course in Swords.
Choosing the Medical Secretarial course came about from a desire to work in the medical arena as I had a Health Fitness qualification and work experience (1988-95) as well as quite a lot of familiarity or empathy in relation to medical matters due to the recent passing of my father-in-law (Mar 09), my Dad (Mar 10) and my dear sister in March 11. All had been ill in the preceding years and many visits to hospitals, discussions on care and treatments were all part of my every day.
I met with the course director, Maria Lalor to discuss the course structure and options. Maria was professional and compassionate and guided me through the modules I would complete. I later added the Legal Secretarial modules.
In early October the same year, I began the course with the Microsoft 2010 modules completing the exams at the end of each module. Success here helped build my confidence, enjoying the challenges of learning and hearing myself saying many times - “that was interesting and a great help… pity I didn’t know how to do that sooner”. It was very exciting learning new functions in all MS modules.
Challenges outside the course continued when I returned home end of Oct 12 to find the house had been burgled. There was mayhem everywhere and many valuable and sentimental items taken.
Again, the course facilitators were extremely supportive, making time to chat and ask how I was doing and not to worry if I missed time off if I needed to rest.
Refreshed after the Christmas and New Year, I resumed the course in January. I received great assistance from Pitman Training in structuring a ‘relevant’ Curriculum Vitae, vital to get myself noticed by agencies and employers. Many revisions later, I was happy it made good sense considering my varied work background and fitting the type of jobs I was now pursuing.
With finances at a critical level, and for the first time in my life signed on Job Seekers allowance. The course ran at night and weekends.
However, a few days later I got a temporary job which lasted 7 months. Out in the marketplace again, I received short term temporary assignments which carried me through the year while at the same time continuing with my studies.
I received an offer of 2 week’s work in a company where I had ‘temped in’ in late 2013 and was delighted they had called me back. With my confidence raised, I started work and submitted my CV for consideration for a full time position in the same role. I was successful and started full time employment in March. Only days before this was confirmed I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) following a standard bi-annual mammogram. I took 2 days annual leave for the surgery and 5.5 weeks of radiotherapy later, I was back on track and very happy all had gone well. Both my employer and course director showed immense kindness and support throughout.
For some time over the next few months, I was feeling very tired working full time and managing only one or two sessions at the course centre each week and sometimes not attending at all for days at a time. Nevertheless, I was moving forward with each module starting the Legal Secretarial modules towards the end of the year.
Then in October, I got shocking news that my husband had died. We had been separated a short time after 32 years together.
Resuming the course in January, I was determined to complete it and see it through. A second burglary took place at the house in April and I was devastated. In spite of all that had happened, I received both Medical and Legal Secretarial Diplomas in May and continue to work full time.
Words cannot adequately express my sincere gratitude to Maria and all the staff in the Pitman Training Centre, Swords in helping me realise my ambition to upskill and complete the course. To my employer, I am truly grateful for your professionalism and understanding.
I hope my story inspires other women who may be re-entering the workplace after a career break or raising a family never to doubt their value and believe they can contribute wholly to any organisation who respects their skills and positivity arising from life’s experiences.
Finally, without reservation, an enormous thank you to my family for their support during this time.