“Having sold the family business my husband and I had run for over 15 years, and also having just turned 40, I was at a loss where to look next. It has always felt odd to me to have time on my hands and I was determined that it wasn’t time to kick back and retire just yet!
Fortunately for me I knew about Pitman Training through an old friend and had in my mind that I would simply refresh the secretarial skills I’d learnt at college, regain a full time ‘super secretary’ job in the City (as I had done in my distant past) and have a new and wonderful career ahead of me. In reality I was nervous as hell and it took almost 6 months before I finally took the plunge and pressed the buzzer to see what Pitman Bishop’s Stortford could do to help me.
Thank goodness I did. From the first “hello, Pitman Training…’ I was hooked. Vernon sat me down, made me tea, opened the biscuits and spent an inordinate amount of time talking to me, being both flattering and realistic in equal measure, just what I’d needed. No hard sell, no dramatics, just plain, simple, sound advice. As I already knew the basics and had lots of office experience, opting for the Microsoft Office Diploma was as much about boosting my confidence as it was about updating my skills. I thought then, and still do, that having a Diploma sounded very impressive, akin to Maureen Lipman telling everyone I had an ‘ology!!
I started straight away and threw myself into it wholeheartedly. You do need to be motivated as it’s independent learning but I never felt alone with support from Lauren, Gemma and Vernon always on hand. The quiet room was a blessing in the early days to retreat for yet another biscuit and to chat with whoever was in that day and I began to fill my spare time with a renewed energy for learning. The position of the centre was also perfect for me as I felt like I was back in the workplace and could easily nip out for lunch/coffee/retail therapy as required.
The Diploma initially covered Word, Excel and PowerPoint which I had used before and so I was able to gain distinctions – phew! without too much trouble. I was still excited though when a subject came along that offered me a new and yet undiscovered skill and would occasionally be heard to give a little whoop of joy at what I’d learnt.
The next section covered the Microsoft Database system Access and this posed more of a problem for me as I’d never even heard of it. I shouldn’t have worried. You have all the time in the world to keep going over the parts you need to work on and the supporting workbooks were always by your side. I quite early on got myself into a very pleasant routine involving a sofa at Caffè Nero, a large Latte and a notebook and pen. I found that after I had completed each course these things, combined with an hour or two of note taking and revision, worked wonders at getting it all to sink in.
A few months in my husband took on a new contract at a local company and kindly secured me a position there too. My new role not only made use of my previous experience but I quickly discovered that my new found skills also made me very popular. It’s wonderful when someone looks back at you and says “wow, how did you do that?”. My usual response now is a quick “oh it’s easy” before turning heel and returning smugly to my desk.
Our contract will end soon but my Diploma course is complete and I feel happier and so much more confident with it than I was without it. The reality is that although my kids are no longer babies at 14 and 12, they do still need me around so I’m going to put my ‘Super Secretary’ career plans on hold for now. Some freelance work though and maybe a new study programme, we’ll see.
Thank you to all at Pitman Bishop’s Stortford.Louise”