A Class Act

With careers fairs just around the corner and milkround deadlines looming, it is easy to feel bewildered by the mass of corporate literature strewn around campus. Impact’s Hong Thi Nguyen follows a recent Nottingham graduate into their life in the big, wide world to give insight into the ins and outs of the job hunt and leaving studenthood.

It’s 8.30am on Monday morning and Jack Clark’s year nine group bustles into class ready for their citizenship lesson. It’s strange to think that this time last year, Jack was living up student life, not being a teacher.

Many Nottingham finalists are plagued with the thought of what to do next after graduation and it can often be really difficult to decide on a career route. Jack started off his quest on the job hunt by looking at the activities he enjoyed at university; “I got involved in Tag Rugby with Nottingham’s Student Community Action, coaching kids; working with kids was fantastic and so that was that”.

Jack has just joined Teach First’s two year graduate program, where he has been placed in an underachieving secondary school. He will have the opportunity to complete a summer internship (Jack is anticipating it will be with the Foreign Office, where he is also planning to work after Teach First), and will gain his qualified teacher status as well as training in finance and business with the Imperial College’s Tanaka Business School. For now, he’s teaching Citizenship at Archbishop Lanfranc School in Croydon, London, where he’ll be based for the next two years.

A typical day for this coco-pops eating graduate is an 8am start, with classes beginning at 8.30am, “For someone who wasn’t fond of 9am lectures, I am actually getting used to the early start”. Jack teaches four classes a day and his working day finishes at 2.15pm.

Often there is a stigma surrounding the teaching sector. Teaching in a ‘challenging’ school Jack admits can be “very tough at times. Sometimes fights break out in class, but they happen and you soon learn how to deal with them. Teaching is a very steep learning curve, but its one which I enjoy”.

Adjusting to working life from the student lifestyle can be tough, especially for those who decide to move to a different city. “You need to establish a work-life balance if you want to keep sane, whatever job you’re doing. Give yourself time to settle in and explore the surroundings”.

Most of us probably have experienced the torture that is rocking up to a 9am lecture with a hangover. How do teachers deal with it? “Cut and stick Fridays”, Jack replies. Silence. “Yeah…err…they really learn from pictures and colours, and yeah…they love it. It also gives me a little bit of peace and the chance to recover from last night’s escapades”. Teachers also have to deal with fashion advice from their pupils, “Kids are the most critical people of your clothing”.

Pupil: ‘Sir, I don’t like your suit’
Mr Clark: ‘Err, okay’
Pupil: ‘Sir, it doesn’t go with your tie’
Mr Clark: ‘Okay…’
Pupil: ‘And it makes your bum look big’

“Yes, as you can see, I have a lot of authority in the classroom. I’ve learnt a lot from the kids. Mainly that I need to invest in a more flattering suit”.

In terms of the job hunt, now is perfect timing for finalists to start thinking about what they want to do, be it travelling, a master’s course, or a graduate job. Deadlines for many graduate jobs start as early as mid-November. “I found that at Nottingham, the milkround careers fairs were often full of banking or consultancy stalls. I would advise students to look at The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers to really get a grasp of the variety of good companies and jobs that are out there. I found out about Teach First through their presentation on campus, and I know a lot of other companies do similar events. Teach First works for me, as I don’t have to make any decisions about my final career for two more years, and I’m having a blast”.

By Hong Thi Nguyen

For more information visit:



One Comment
  • Ed
    26 October 2008 at 15:08
    Leave a Reply

    Teach First is a great concept. I have a few friends that have done this, they all enjoyed it (although at times it was pretty tough!) plus they made a good wage and got great experience for their CV. Employers love the fact they’ve taught, and they have loads of great things to talk about in their interviews too. I’d definitely do TeachFirst if I had my time again, but sadly, I don’t!

  • Leave a Reply