There’s a whole lot you can do with a 2.2
October 23, 2017
Meet Alastair. Alastair has worked for Explore Learning for 13 years and proves that a 2:2 degree, teamed with the right skills and experiences can be the starting point for a wonderful career.
“I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a 2.2 in Mathematical Physics. Having already started the job hunting process at the beginning of my final year, I was starting to get a feel for job applications, and although I was very proud of having completed my degree, I was starting to understand that a degree wasn’t all that employers were interested in when it came to assessing my ability to do a job.
Whilst studying at university I had spent three years working as part of the Edinburgh University student union council, and involved myself briefly in student politics. I’d spent my summers working in the U.S. through the ‘Camp America’ program at a summer camp for disadvantaged children, and all of these experiences had helped me to get a better understanding of both what I was good at and what I enjoyed.
When I found Explore Learning in the autumn of 2004, I knew I’d stumbled upon something perfect for me. My summer work had taught me I was great with kids, and my experience with the Student Union Council had exposed me to a lot of team work, and a collaborative environment. It was immediately apparent to me how I would use all of these skills at Explore, plus get lots of opportunity to use the maths background I had developed through my degree course; I didn’t hesitate to submit an application.
It was clear from the first few months that Explore Learning was a perfect fit for me. My team at the Camberley centre was quick to encourage me to try new things, and give me ownership of tasks. I found huge affinity for the families we supported, and fell about the task of serving them with a sense of responsibility. I loved the entrepreneurial spirit of Explore and quickly realised that this was not confined to my team, but exuded from each and every one of my peers that I met at trainings throughout my time as an Assistant Director. I quickly formed strong bonds with my colleagues and honestly, just months into the job I felt like I’d found home away from home.
I’ve always considered myself to be a flexible person; I enjoy a new challenge and am happy to take on new responsibilities depending on the needs I encounter around me. I still remember, 9 months into my tenure in Camberley, Robert Hicks asking me to move to the Reading centre. I don’t think I hesitated for all that long before accepting. I still credit a lot of my success at Explore to my flexible attitude; I don’t think you can underestimate its importance in a company like this.
Three years after I first started at Explore I had four centres on my C.V., a centre launch to my name and many many fabulous anecdotes of hilarious encounters with children to entertain my unwitting dinner time companions. It was at this point that I joined the team of Regional managers and took another huge step forward in my Explore career. Joining the Regional Manager team was a huge moment for me. The learning curve was steep, and there was even more responsibility to wrap my head around. Throughout my time as a Regional Manager I developed a much greater understanding and appreciation of the various intricacies involved in operating a business like Explore Learning. My maths background really came into play here and all of those statistics classes and time spent on Excell started to pay off. Whilst the insight I was afforded by a love of maths was invaluable, it was the time I spent with my centre managers that continued to be the most rewarding for me.
Despite moving away from directly managing a learning centre, the focus at Explore is always on the service we deliver, so even though my title had changed I still found myself spending nearly all of my time in the centres I was supporting. I became a conduit for ideas, helping them pass from one team to the next, ensuring that all the best ideas were shared and replicated. Travelling between centres meant a lot of long days. I’d now start before the centre teams got in, and sometimes end up staying until they closed. But long hours have never been something that has phased me, and the grit I’d demonstrated in getting my degree, I think still shapes a lot of my work ethic to this day, but certainly helped me in this instance; and is something which I have found has come in handy more than once whilst working for Explore.
I spent a total of 6 years as a Regional manager. I supported centres up and down the country, from Edinburgh to Bournemouth. I loved the job, but when, in 2013 noises started to be made about an expansion to the U.S. there was little doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a part of this exciting opportunity.
I’ve been in the U.S. now for 4 years, and have loved every minute of it. I don’t think I could have anticipated the level of challenge we would face when opening Explore in Texas. There has been a lot of learning along the way, but I’m proud to say that many of the reasons I originally joined Explore 13 years ago still hold true now. I still get to spend plenty of time with the children and their families; I keep myself hands on with the service, partly through necessity, partly through want. We’ve worked hard to create a collaborative environment, capturing much of the entrepreneurial spirit that I fell in love with at Explore Learning when I first joined, and I definitely still get to use the maths skills I developed through university only now there seems to be a lot more spreadsheets than when I started. I believe I owe a lot of where I’ve gotten to with Explore to the grit and determination I developed whilst working through my degree course, along with the skills I developed alongside my studies through those extra curricula activities. Perhaps had I found those academics easier, I might not be where I am today?”
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