Make an event of it
Q. My son is at the University of Bristol doing a maths degree. He's interested in events management as a career. What is the best way for him to get experience?
A. Events management now covers a very wide area. Your son should have a look around key websites to work out what most interests him. Does he want to organise exhibitions, conferences, cultural events, book fairs, local authority events or weddings? A trawl around www.aeo.org.uk, the site of the trade body representing companies working in the field, will find him a list of names. More can be found on www.abpco.org, the website of professional conference organisers. He should also check out the British Hospitality Association ( www.bha-online.org. uk), which has a careers advice fact sheet.
Once he finds a name and location to suit, he should ring to say that he is interested in managing events and ask if he can go along to see how an event is run. He could also try approaching local branches of big charities - charity fundraising events are on the increase and might offer an opportunity to someone looking to break into the industry. Personality counts here - it's said that being helpful, kind and funny will get you a long way.
Q. I'm a 42-year-old nurse. I do not want to stay in the job - it is increasingly stressful and the unsociable hours are making it difficult to develop any meaningful social life. I would appreciate advice on courses that would enable me to change career without too much loss of earnings. IT interests me, particularly network design and maintenance.
A. It's sometimes tempting when under stress to try and opt for a solution as far away as possible from the job that's putting you under strain. But you might want to hold fire. To catch up with others in an unrelated IT field is not impossible, and no doubt you could find a suitable course. But you would have no experience and would therefore find it difficult to get part- or full-time work given the degree of competition. Network maintenance will probably also involve working shifts.
But you have a clinical background that you could use to branch out, in or out of the NHS. Not only could you opt to use it in another sphere that you might find less stressful (in education, industry or a GP's practice, perhaps, or more widely in nursing recruitment, health research or clinical trials), but you could seek to combine it with your interest in IT. Health service informatics - using IT to manage and share information - is one of the fastest growing areas in the NHS. Talk to your manager, or if that is difficult a union representative, about how to get an appraisal (and possibly seek funding) for a shift in career.
Your obvious interest in IT might take you further than you think even without having to take another qualification. It should certainly be easier and more productive in the long run for you to build on the skills you already have than to start afresh. The NHS Careers website ( www.nhs careers.nhs.uk/careers/healthinformatics) gives you information about the options open to you and entry requirements, as well as some useful case studies.
Careers adviser: Lola James; managing director, Career Analysts; Nick Jordan, senior lecturer, Leeds Metropolitan University Events Department.
Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to chaydon @blueyonder.co.ukReuse content