My Pathway to Success

Since taking up a new role at St Margaret’s School for Girls as Admissions Officer, I feel very much my life has come full circle. My former teachers are now my colleagues and I am now the person responsible for the intake of new pupils at all levels of the school.    

I was first introduced to St Margaret’s in 1997, when I joined the nursery aged three, and went on to spend 10 very happy years here before moving to Edinburgh with my family. My secondary years were completed at St George’s School for Girls and, when I left school in 2011, I went on to study accountancy and finance at The Robert Gordon University.

I can honestly say that I loved school. From a young age, my favourite subjects were Maths, French and Geography, as well as anything sport-related. I studied PE at both Higher and Advanced Higher levels, which was a huge bonus for me.

I have very fond memories of Scottish country dancing lessons and rehearsing for the carol concert, even though I wasn’t very good at singing. I really enjoyed going to school as a child and my sister, who had a summer birthday, always found it strange that I was so keen to go to school on my birthday. To me, the rapport that existed between myself, teachers and my friends made the classroom feel like a family. I always felt very supported, which gave me the confidence to ask and answer questions in class. 

The education I received at both schools more than equipped me for the outside world and, after leaving University, I travelled for nine months around Asia, Malaysia and Australia and then to China and Japan last Easter.

Although I studied accountancy and finance, my passion has always been sport and, on returning home, I spent two years working in the sport and leisure industry, before deciding that I would look for a change in career. When I saw the admissions job at the school advertised, I jumped at the chance and I took up my new post last September. Since then, I have taken on additional hours working with the finance team, and I am really enjoying the variety of both roles. While admissions is very interactive, and I get to meet prospective families and help them through the application process, which I find very rewarding, the accounts work, allows me to close my door and work with numbers. It is always satisfying when the bottom line matches my own!

I was keen to find a job which would offer me variety, responsibility and satisfaction, while at the same time allow me to become a self-employed fitness instructor. Working at the school on a part-time basis has given me the opportunity to set up my own business running early morning HIIT classes at the Beach Leisure Centre. I have had to juggle my timings a little, but the school know how much I enjoy my fitness and they have supported me in trying to fit it into my timetable. 

Being back at the school, I feel that the opportunities which were on offer and which I made the most of while at St Margaret’s and St George’s have had a significant impact on my mentality, especially when applying for this, and other jobs. Even though my initial role was not related to my degree or previous experience, it didn’t stop me from applying and giving it a go.

Admissions is like nothing else I have experienced and I feel very lucky to be working in this area. It is surreal to think, and I am sure my parents would agree, that 20 years after my first day at nursery I am back. The atmosphere and ethos of the school are the same; I even got a cake for my birthday, just like when I was five! 

Naomi Shepherd

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