Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Day Job

Well I keep promising to tell you more about my job and tonight is somewhat the calm before the storm so to speak, so it would seem an ideal time. Tomorrow I return to work 'properly' (I've just been playing at it since mid-July to be honest), and will put in an average of 70-80 hours per week until the end of September - not ideal but luckily I love it, and needs must.

So what do I do? Technically my job title is 'CIS and Qualifications Manager', you are so much wiser now aren't you?! In plain English I oversee all of the data relating to students, their enrolments and their course outcomes at quite a large further education college in North Wales (3000 full timers...I never really know how many part timers there are...but its lots). I'm also responsible for ensuring they sit the right exams, under the right conditions. Finally...and this is the scary bit...I have to make sure that I claim the correct funding for each enrolment from the Welsh Government, and that our published performance statistics are accurate. Of course, all of this is audited, and that's a bit scary too sometimes because, as with everything government related, the rules are over complicated. It equates to millions of pounds and if I screw up...people lose their jobs (I would be top of that list of course)...that's the reality.

I also sit on the Senior Management Team at the College, which means that I play a part (with 15 others) in running the college as a whole, and any problems...whatever they are...I have to help solve. Sometimes I do sit in SMT meetings and wonder how the hell I got there. I'm 34 and I started there at 30. I'm the youngest on the management team and to say that I felt slightly out of my depth at the start would be an understatement. I thought they were crazy to give me such a huge responsibility...what were they thinking???...its just little me!

I submitted the application 15 minutes before the closing time at 11:45pm (I only became aware of it at 9:30pm), accidentally ticking the 'criminal convictions' box on the form (its not like the job requires a high degree of accuracy now is it??!), that was an interesting conversation at the interview! They required 3 years management experience to oversee what they described as a 'colourful' team of 15. I had a big fat ZERO! Oh...they are colourful alright! They are great...I wouldn't want to manage any other teams. With this in mind you can appreciate that I was a little shocked to be offered the post 25 minutes after the interview, whilst browsing HMV before my train arrived. If you have ever seen the film "Pursuit of Happyness" (deliberately spelt wrong by the way...my spell checker is going nuts right now), the scene at the end of the film was pretty much the same for me. As a single parent of three I set out to do the best I could for my kids, just as Will Smith did in the film, and that scene makes me cry every time I see it solely because I remember that same day in my life.

So, in year one, I sank...nearly drowned...and then learnt to swim...a little. Every day was a huge challenge. I felt like everyone was waiting for me to fail. However, I then began to realise that actually, I could do this, and people believed in me...in fact most people believed in me. Its only now, after nearly four years that I actually believe this too. Well the College is still solvent anyway! Its still a challenge, though, nearly every day, and that's a good thing.

So tomorrow the chaos begins when we get the a-level results in, then we get the GCSE results, then we go through main enrolment, then we get all 3000 students, plus the thousands of part timers, in the right place at the right time on day one, then we finalise the funding for last academic year, then we are audited (externally) and then we play catch up with everything else, before we start recruiting for 13/14. It genuinely is a crazy time of the year! So I will update this blog during this time, but please forgive me if it isn't as often or as detailed...keep following!

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