Sean shares his journey from Engineer to Teaching Assistant. He has a few tips for people eager to make a career change!

I always thought I’d be an engineer after studying Civil Engineering and enjoying internships in the field. However, after the Peace Corps enlisted me as a Maths and Science Teacher in Uganda, I loved it so much that I stayed on for two years! I discovered that teaching could combine my two passions, supporting young people and my interest in the sciences.

I was drawn to the positive impact you can make through teaching. As an engineer, my work did benefit the public; but as a Teaching Assistant, my work benefits people more personally. I can directly support students and help them develop a positive relationship with education — it’s incredibly rewarding.

On my career journey, I registered with Zen Educate to find Teaching Assistant roles in London. These tips might help if you’re also thinking about switching careers!

1. Gain experience

It’s important to appreciate what working with young people entails — especially if you’re leaving another career behind! Rather than diving straight into a full time role, finding supply roles or short term placements will help you test the waters. Volunteer with a youth organisation or work part time as a Teaching Assistant in a school to help you make up your mind.

2. Do your background research

You might have skills from your previous profession which will transfer well into working with young people. It’s worth mentioning these talents when talking with companies like Zen Educate (who can support and guide you) and speaking with teachers to get a true idea of the responsibilities.

Remember career changes don’t happen overnight; It can take 2 years of training to qualify as a teacher and land a permanent role. Until you discover it’s your passion, my advice is to ease yourself into teaching.

3. Consider the Teaching Assistant to Teacher route

I highly recommend looking at every pathway into education. With my background in engineering, I wanted the practical experience as a Teaching Assistant before completing teacher training to ensure it was the right move.

Becoming a Teaching Assistant first is helpful because it exposes you to the challenges of the classroom before you commit to a career switch!


Why supply with Zen

I like the approach that Zen Educate takes to matching Teachers and Teaching Assistants with schools. You are never randomly sent to different schools, it’s a process where your Zen profile is considered first to ensure you’re a good match.

Through Zen, I’ve discovered a passion for supporting students with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) in special schools. Plus, the team is very supportive and the platform is easy to use!

If you’d like to find supply roles as a Teaching Assistant, sign up to match our partner schools in London, Birmingham or Manchester. Our blog on building an effective professional profile is a great read for setting up your Zen profile for success!