Michelle has an HND in computer studies and is an IT trainer.
I first became interested in IT during college when I ended up helping my friends with their computing coursework, as they understood my explanations better than the tutor’s. I don’t remember where I heard about ‘training’ as a career but somewhere between college and university my career plan was fixed.
Perseverance was key to securing work. I kept on applying for training roles until I was accepted. Looking for trainee training roles (where they don’t expect the experience) or companies willing to accept less (or no) experience is vital when starting out.
There are two types of typical working day. If you are working for a training company or part of a large training team, your regular day will involve setting up the training room for the current course, training, clearing up the room (if there’s a different course the following day), paperwork associated with the course (feedback forms, etc.) and getting a start on tomorrow’s room. For one day a week, you’ll find yourself developing a new skill/course or handouts.
For sole-trainers and smaller teams, the day is a mixed bag: writing handouts, dealing with support calls, organising training (rooms and attendees) and finally training. You’re more likely to be in charge of your calendar and it will depend on business requirements. During major rollouts your day will be more like the large training team - spending all day training.
The main change to my training role is the amount of responsibility I now have. As a trainee you tend to do what you’ve been told, but as a more experienced trainer you know what needs to be done and just get on with it.
The best part of the job is helping others. I believe that the role of the trainer is to help people to work out for themselves the answer. It’s the ‘wow’ moment - ‘wow I didn’t know I could do that’ - that makes me continue to be a trainer. You’ve done a good job if they don’t need you any more!
For me the biggest challenge is that people don’t always take training as seriously as they should. Training will normally come bottom of most people’s list of things to do, so be prepared for cancellations and postponements. Unfortunately this is something that you will come up against time and time again - so you do need to get used to it and accept it.
IT trainers don’t tend to move up a career ladder - more out, expanding their knowledge, experience and training portfolio (of what they can train). There are a lot of choices that you can make and you don’t have to be 100% trainer - it can be part of the role, along side support or project management. You can also leave on-the-floor training and go into management, coaching or consultancy.
My advice to others is to find the type of training that you enjoy, be it applications, technical, soft skills or something else. Learn it, where possible use it, and never stop learning. Ask questions and talk to other people - networking is easier with the internet. Get the basics right (your training skills) and find your own style that works for both you and the learners.
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