Karren Brady gives career advice from being out of education to IT struggles
APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she helps out a mum whose daughter is out of education and is unsure what to do. She also gives advice on who to turn to when struggling with new software at work.
Q. My daughter has deferred her place at university to study teaching after the fiasco of A level grading. But now she isn’t sure what she should do for the next 12 months.
As she isn’t in education, she can’t easily get a placement in a school and is struggling to know what jobs to apply for when she can’t commit beyond next August. Should she be clear in applications about her situation or wait until asked in an interview?
Emma, via email
A. Taking a year off is no bad thing, but it’s what you do with that time that’s important. During her gap year your daughter should consider an internship, volunteering, travelling or a foreign au-pair job (if these are possible in the current climate), starting her own online business or applying for a variety of jobs to work out what she doesn’t want to do as well as what she does want to do long-term.
The biggest transition we all make in our lives is leaving education and entering the working world. So getting any kind of job at this early age will teach her responsibility, ambition and to value her own money. There is no harm in putting the fact that she is on a gap year on her application.
It may help her long-term to get a job at a school now if she can (she may have to do a short online course to become a teaching assistant), as when she finishes uni a combination of a degree and a year’s work in the field will really help her get a full-time position. She could also request her first year reading material for when she starts uni, so she can hit the ground running (though that may be overly optimistic!).
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Q. I’m in my late-50s and have worked for the same company for over 20 years. Recently, our IT department has introduced lots of new systems and I have to use spreadsheets and other programs to do the processes I used to do on my calculator or in my head.
I am finding it really stressful because I don’t understand the systems, but I’m worried about telling my younger boss that I’m struggling in case he thinks I’m a technophobe. What should I do?
Sarah, via email
A. First of all, be positive. If you have been at the company for 20 years, you are clearly valued, respected, trusted and good at your job. There is no shame in not understanding a new system and this has nothing to do with your age.
So the first thing to do is to ask your boss if you can attend a course to ensure you and your department are making the most of the system, and offer to share any new findings about what the system is capable of with everyone in your department.
Your boss will not want to put barriers in the way of you being able to do your role and on-the-job training is pretty standard, so I can see no reason why he would say no. Or there may also be someone in your IT department who could take you through the new processes.
You may even find an online course that will explain how to use the software without having to tell your boss, if you feel more comfortable doing that. But in my experience, asking for a course through your employer is the best way forward.
- Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email [email protected]
Compiled by: Claire Frost
Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.
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