A most excellent day.
Today was a good day, and that is, in itself, a reason to celebrate.
Specifically, today was a good day because I spent a few hours in a school, talking about what the company I work for does, and why I enjoy it.
The careers fair, at Alcester Academy was something I have been looking forward too for a while. Back in the day, when I were a lad, I never got the opportunity to go to an event about my future. I was always told to aim for uni. The thing is, for someone who has always worked in education – I bloody hate the thought of going back to a classroom. I wanted to do something, and learn by doing.
So today, when I was asked some questions by the students, I thought it might be worth sharing them, and my answers.
What do you (Concero) do?
Instead of just focusing on the fact we work with ‘computers’ I chose to talk about the impact of what we do. We connect learners and educators to the world, we enable students to go anywhere and learn anything from their classroom. We minimise the impact of disabilities on learners by providing accessible solutions. We help parents work from home, so they can be parents at 4pm. We enable students to access resources, support and opportunity from their home, which they might otherwise not have access too.
Do I need any qualifications?
I loved answering this one. No. You don’t need qualifications. You need the right attitude, you need confidence and you need to want to learn. You don’t need to go to uni, and honestly – you are better learning on the job then you are doing an apprenticeship or college course. But – you have to want to learn, and achieve. It’s not a role where it comes to you. You have to go get the experience and the talent.
Is it just fixing things? What’s a normal day like?
It’s not just fixing things. If you fixed something, it doesn’t happen the same again, or you haven’t fixed it. So it’s something new everyday. Doing a repetitive task? Automate it.
There is no normal day, and that’s what I love about the role. A constant challenge, and always learning new skills.
How did you get into it?
This was a hard one to answer for it to be useful. I literally got handed a job on sixth form results day, and the world isn’t like that anymore. But, over the 16 years I have been doing it the entry points are easier, and more support and professionalism is there. But it is very much about taking the right job, with the right people. They have to want you to succeed. Constant challenges mean you need to be constantly learning and developing. That’s not easy on your own.
What are the downsides?
Well, let’s be honest, you are never going to be a millionaire working to support education. Infact, for many, you will struggle on the wages. But that’s true in a lot of places these days, and progression is there if you want it. The demand is there now for talented individuals who are more then just geeks, and the pay is rising. Slowly.
Also, it’s always stressful. If it’s not, it’s probably boring or you are doing it wrong. Nobody ever stops by and says “just to let you know, it’s all working okay” – but that challenge drives the right person, in moderation, of course.
What’s the best bit?
Everyday, something new. You can’t beat that, and every new thing you solve makes it easier to solve the next thing.
But the best bit for me remains walking into a classroom – and things just work. The power of the tech in schools these days is nowhere near used to it’s potential, so sometimes when you see glimmers of that, it’s spine tingling.
For all the grief I get from support staff, teachers and heads, actually, many are some of the wisest, kindest people – and the vast majority are there and driven to make a difference in a students life. And you can’t knock that.
What are you most proud of?
This was a tough one. I’m pretty proud of a lot of things I’ve done overall. But actually, I’m proudest of what it’s helped others to achieve, creating jobs, supporting promotions. Starting careers.
Do I need to be a geek?
God no. That’s the worst kind of person, we need people skills in our industry combined with a knowledge of technology. We don’t need geeks hiding behind a screen. Can’t talk to people on a phone? Can’t take the tough conversations? Can’t reassure? No good.
Don’t get me wrong, we all need geeks in our lives. But we don’t need, in our spheres of edu IT people who are just geeks.
We need people who know where and how to create partnerships and relationships that build trust. We don’t need empires and we don’t need hoarders and controllers. We need problem solvers. We need leaders.
We need the next generation to see, this is so much more then making computers work. This is making IT empower.