Callum’s journey to becoming an Education Support Officer

As part of our #MyLearnerJourney series, Callum Pethick who volunteered with our members Project Trust, has blogged for us about his journey after school and how volunteering overseas and gaining a Diploma in International Volunteering helped him on his career journey.

Picture of a man standing with a hillside rising up behind him.

Throughout school, I was always interested in more practical subjects such as Art, Drama and Technology. I was told from a young age that because I was also good at maths, I should go to university and study Architecture. I remember thinking that was the normal thing to do and that there weren’t any other options out there. In my final year of school this all changed when I was introduced to Project Trust. Project Trust is an Educational Charity based on the Hebridean Isle of Coll. It specialises in sending school-leavers on long-term international volunteering placements. Project Trust delivered a presentation at my school and I was immediately hooked. The idea of volunteering overseas for 12 months was something that I had never considered before the presentation, but on reflection has defined my journey and career path so far.

I was lucky enough to volunteer in Nepal with Project Trust, teaching English and ICT at a primary school. Being in such a rural setting and not being able to communicate at the start of my year really did test my resilience and raise my awareness of different cultures and the wider world. Volunteering as a teacher was also a prime opportunity for me to develop my teaching, leadership and confidence as well as gain experience working with young people that I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise. Project Trust enabled me to develop an array of skills in a truly unique context and allowed me to gain my Level 3 Diploma in International Volunteering. This qualification is equivalent to a higher grade and is a great representation of everything I achieved during my placement overseas. Project Trust’s qualification is unlike any qualification I did at school, it is far more practical and has a massive focus on the transferrable skills you gain and the practical work you do within your overseas community.

After my year abroad, I realised that I had a passion for education and wanted to find a way to turn my passion into a career. My overseas placement with Project Trust showed me alternative possibilities and the Diploma in International Volunteering helped me gain my current job role as an Education Support Officer. My job enables me to broaden the horizons of other young people and support schools in delivering a broad and balanced curriculum through free workshops and assemblies on Global Citizenship values. Within my role, I also work with young people during residential development courses. Without my experience volunteering overseas and teaching for 12 months in a primary school, I would not be able to do what I do now.

The main advice I would give a school leaver who is unsure about what they want to do is to not push yourself into a degree if you’re not 100% about it. Maybe take a structured year out to see the different options available!