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Careers Week - Meet Gillian!

It's Careers Week 2021! To celebrate, we're gonna be chatting to four wonderful women working different jobs in the animal sector and doing short interviews with them. There are so many exciting and diverse animal careers to discover! First up, we have Gillian -- over to her.

AnimalEd: Hi Gillian! So nice to talk to you again. So, first of all -- what do you do? What's your job?

Gillian: I am currently a Lecturer in Animal Science at Myerscough college, but have been teaching both practical and theory animal related subjects in several different vocational colleges for the last 12 years, including Moulton College (in Northampton), Sparsholt College (in Winchester) and Wigan and Leigh college. I have taught everything from employment skills in the animal industry to learners with special educational needs to Higher Education Genetics, and Chemistry for Biological Technicians and Biochemistry.


AnimalEd: Awesome! So what's the most important part of lecturing, in your opinion?

Gillian: Working mainly with teenagers, I find that one of the most important aspects of my job is to try to help learners find the motivation that can get them to pursue a career that would be satisfying to them and beneficial to the world.

Some learners start college with a clear idea of their goals and dreams. I see it as my role to push them to be as ambitious as possible and to help them find ways to make their dreams a reality (tricky in today's economy!). Many learners join college with no clear goals, or they change their minds whilst there. Since this is such an important time in their lives, I feel that the most important part of my role is to try to help encourage and guide these learners into following a definite path that will keep them motivated and engaged, even through the tough times!

It's all about finding their spark (anyone who has seen Soul, the new Disney movie, will know what I mean by that!).


AnimalEd: Very true! What do you like most about the job?

Gillian: I really enjoy trying to pass on my love of learning and curiosity about how the world (and particularly animals) works. I feel that you can only fully understand a concept if you can explain it successfully to someone else, so I am always learning new things every year. That moment when you can see someone understand a concept for the first time makes the hard work worthwhile!

I also enjoy the fact that the job is never boring (apart from some of the paperwork!). Every day is different! You never know what I will be carrying around in my bag: from jars of slime, to stuffed toys to bags of bones! You don't get that unpredictability at a desk job! Even if you teach the same lesson to different groups of students you never get bored as the responses you get are so varied!

I also love to see the students progress and learn new things and become deeper, more mature and more interesting people over the years I spend with them!


AnimalEd: That must be so rewarding! Lastly, what would you say to somebody looking to get into lecturing or animal education roles?

Gillian: I'm not going to lie, it is HARD and emotionally draining work! If you are not careful, teaching can take over your life! You need a good mentor who will show you the ropes and what to do in difficult situations so that you don't feel overwhelmed.

Less than 50% of teachers make it through their first year because giving entertaining and educational performances all day every day, sometimes to a tough crowd, can be incredibly difficult and exhausting until you get the hang of it! Don't panic, it does get easier as you learn some of the tricks of the trade and build up a bank of resources (these usually come from watching other teachers more than through teacher training, in my experience. Being in a good team that supports you is CRUCIAL!).

My biggest tip? Make some time for yourself to unwind at the end of the day. Try not to bring the job home with you. Most people get into teaching because they like people (and animals!) and so it is hard to stop worrying about students who are struggling or problems that you know you have to solve the next day, but if you never take a break, you will burn out! Don't be afraid to share your worries and problems with other teachers, they will have gone through the same issues and may well be able to help (or at least listen!).

The busy times are worth it for the joy of end of year seeing all your hard work pay off with happy successful students, and then a nice long holiday before it all starts again (although don't think that most holidays won't be spent preparing new lessons and activities; it is not something you can switch off easily!).

Best of luck - we need more keen educators in order to inspire more learners!


Well, you heard it here first! A big thanks to Gillian Marshall at Myerscough College for taking the time to talk to us for Careers Week. Check back again tomorrow when we'll be looking at another exciting animal-based career path.

Thanks for reading, and remember to always keep learning!

-- Charlie and Tiana

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