"I love working for a small business, where you feel like you can really make an impact on the way things work and there’s a real sense of collaboration and a united vision for the company.... I love knowing that we are placing young people into work in a very challenging career market."
What a joy to read! Sarah's story shows that you can have more than one career passion in your life, and sometimes you don't even know you'll be passion about something until you try "even though I didn’t know it would be, it’s an industry I’m even more passionate about!"
From the beauty industry to apprecticeships, there is so much good enery in this story, it will motivate and inspire you. Check out how Sarah unravelled what she wanted to do next; it's a mixture of good groundwork and some intuition too! (If you're stuck, basically do what she did!)
Tell us a little about yourself – who are you besides the job you do?
Hi! I’m a 28 year old feminist, foodie and wine lover, trying to navigate this very strange existence in which we are living in with two hairless cats, a dachshund, and my fiancé! I love literature, Shania Twain, and anything that sparkles.
What do you do now?
I am the business development manager for SCCU Ltd, an apprenticeship training provider in Coventry.
What do you love about it?
Pretty much everything! I love working for a small business, where you feel like you can really make an impact on the way things work and there’s a real sense of collaboration and a united vision for the company. I truly believe that apprenticeships can improve any business, so it’s great selling something I’m really passionate about- and I love knowing that we are placing young people into work in a very challenging career market.
What did you do before and how did you end up there? Why did you decide to change?
I never envisaged myself here- it was a real fluke! Prior to this I worked in the beauty industry, and that’s where I saw myself staying- however, I found the long hours and lack of work life balance quite challenging, and working for a very large company that was getting smaller was disheartening in terms of career progression, which is really important to me. When people in the next step up the ladder from me began being made redundant, and my next steps became uncertain, I made a list of what I loved about my current job and what I didn’t like. I knew I wanted a job with more regular hours, and that I loved managing people- I wrote down what I knew I was good at and what interested me, and I decided to look into sales and managing people in different industries, so that my transferable skills were relevant, but so that I could leave an industry that was ever changing. I applied for loads of roles but nothing sparked that much excitement in me… and then I came into the offices at SCCU and had a great chat with James and Scott, and instantly I could picture myself working here.
How did you decide what to do instead?
It was really tough! I applied for all sorts of things; I knew I was passionate about managing and developing a team, and that I love the sales process, but other than that, I was a bit stumped! I didn’t know much about apprenticeships, but once I’d seen the vacancy at SCCU, I began researching them and realised I’d love to do something that made a difference to peoples’ lives. What I loved about the beauty industry was the fact you could make an impact on how someone felt about themselves, you could give them confidence, and make them feel good even if only for the half hour they spent with you. Although this industry is completely different- it has that same perk. I manage the recruitment team, through which we get the opportunity to get someone into a career path and to allow them to thrive throughout the duration of their course and then from a sales perspective, I get the chance to help a business to grow and develop!
Where did you start when it came to actually making the change?
I was petrified to accept the job offer and hand in my notice- especially because I’d dreamt of working in the beauty industry for years, but I knew that it was the right thing for me.
How did you actually make the change? (training, finances, learning etc)
I’m a huge proponent of learning at any stage of life- not that I’m old by any means but I felt like I really knew what I was doing in the beauty industry, I could call myself an ‘expert’ in certain areas and feel confident in that- however when it came to apprenticeships, it was all new! Prior to starting I read pretty much everything I could find in order to become as knowledgeable as possible- I subscribed to FE week, I researched the company and its competitors- this allowed me to come in and manage a team even though I didn’t have years of sector experience- having knowledge, passion, and transferable skills thankfully turned out to be enough!
What were /are the biggest challenges? (internal and external!)
Probably impostor syndrome! Being new to the sector was tough so I ensured I did everything I could do to make myself as knowledgeable as possible!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I probably should have left my old role a year earlier, I wasn’t happy with the lack of progression opportunities and I hated working every weekend and every Christmas- I missed my family and I knew I wanted more in terms of career progression. Though my old role was so much fun and it was an amazing industry, my time was up! I was just scared. I’d definitely encourage myself to make the change, take the risk, and know that I was capable of it!
How has life changed?
I have a much better work/life balance- though my fiancé still jokes that I’m a work nerd- I find that if I’m working out of hours it’s by choice rather than obligation. Plus I get Christmas off! The hours suit my life better, and even though I didn’t know it would be, it’s an industry I’m even more passionate about!
What do you miss about your previous line of work?
I miss the people, I had a fantastic team of girls and I loved all of our time together- I was just ready for a change. I also miss the discount!
What hopes do you have for your future?
I hope to grow with the company- I work alongside some amazing people and it’s just fantastic to see the strides we can make and the way we can all grow together.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to find and pursue a career/job they love?
You deserve a job that you love.
What does success mean to you now?
Being happy in my role, achieving my targets, and giving companies and people the tools they need in order to thrive.
I love sharing resources! Are there any resources such as books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc that you'd recommend for people figuring out what they want to do for work and/or getting started?
I’m all about mindset and personal development, so I’d always recommend ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck.
Where can people find / follow you? (if appropriate)
SCCU LinkedIn, my own linkedin, or email me! [email protected]