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I became an IT consultant after a career change

Toni-Marie McCarrick is an IT Consultant working for Drift IT Services based in Havant and working with schools around Hampshire.

At the age of 30, I decided to change my career path entirely and train as an IT technician apprentice.

I had spent many years working in education as a teaching assistant, cover supervisor and computing leader. It was during the latter role that I realised there was potential for me to be an IT technician. I’d already accumulated knowledge in IT over the years working in schools, gaming and helping friends and family with general computing issues.

I loved the STEM and curriculum side of computing and had already shifted the curriculum in my school to include lessons involving MakeyMakey and Minecraft.

Being an apprentice

I passed my apprenticeship around June 2019 and then worked as an IT technician in a few schools in Portsmouth. I absolutely loved this role! I loved that I was able to provide such an important service that truly made a difference to teaching and learning within the schools I was supporting.

My background knowledge of teaching also helped me to give advice and guidance to STEM/computing leaders within the schools.

After some time, I recognised my own strengths in working with people and providing valuable advice about IT in schools. This is where my new role was born.

I now work alongside more than 100 schools and assist them in their five-year plans for IT replacements, licensing and subscriptions as well as STEM/computing-related guidance. Schools in general have an ever-decreasing budget to use on IT.

How I help schools with IT

It’s my job to help governors, heads and computing leaders to strategically plan their futures to help provide the best possible learning and teaching environment within their school, to allow students and teachers to be successful. For me, there is no job more important than that.

I get to speak to inspiring leaders on a regular basis and see their plans unfold within their schools, knowing I supported them in that process. That gives me 100 per cent job satisfaction!

When it comes to challenges for women in STEM fields, personally, I believe the main challenge is your own self-belief. If you have a passion and want to pursue it, in any field of work, you should.

Turning a hobby into a career

I have always enjoyed IT related activities. At college, as part of my course in studying childcare, we had to complete a Level 3 IT course.

It consisted of a lot of spreadsheets, graphs and formulas and I really enjoyed and excelled at it. I enjoy gaming and have been fixing PCs, laptops, games consoles, phones for as long as I can remember. I just never thought in a million years about turning my hobbies into a career.

Advice I would give my younger self

Don’t regret the career moves you make in this life. Every step you take is a step towards true happiness.

But don’t waste precious time thinking that you are not good enough to do more. You are never trapped on one career ladder. If the next step up is not what you want, then jump onto another ladder.

If you want to get into IT…

I would say that if you enjoy talking to people, watching developments, and caring about outcomes, spending far too much time working out formulas in spreadsheets, working for an amazing company who respect and want to assist you in your career journey, then go for it!

Ultimately, the world really is your oyster and if my story can inspire anyone to take a leap, no matter what age, then great.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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