Pam O’Connell began working with PJ Care in the finance department five years ago, and is now Executive Assistant to CEO Neil Russell.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school and really wasn’t interested in education,” she says. “I just wanted to be out working and earning money. I went back to college in my early 20s and again in my early 30s to gain further qualifications.
“Recently I volunteered for a Career WorkOut session at Lord Grey School and spoke to older children coming up to their exams. They asked me a variety of questions about my education and my working life and how I got to where I am now. For me, it was important that they knew they had choices and that any decisions they made weren’t final; they could change their minds and their choices at any point in the future. Also, that at their age many of them won’t know what they want to do and that’s OK.
“It was easier talking with the girls but most of the young people were interested in what I had to say and asked intelligent, relevant questions. Quite often the boys wanted to know how much money they could earn doing a particular job. Upon returning to work I did reflect on my working life, how I got to where I am and how much I enjoy my current role in this company. Before I came here I did go through a very unpleasant experience which, at the time, made me extremely angry and bitter but now I’m glad that it happened because I’m happy where I am today. Sometimes things happen for a reason…
“I think it’s important that young people understand there are lots of ways to achieve an end goal, it’s not always about qualifications now and that they have choices. The more people they speak to in different roles, in different companies and organisations, the more they will understand that their future isn’t set in stone and that they can change their career path in the future if they want to.”
If you would like to join a one-hour Career WorkOut session, click here. No qualifications, no pretences, no preparation required.