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In our final #NoWrongPath Campaign post to mark Exam Results day this week, we hear from Lesley Don, our Director of Corporate Services. Lesley’s experience shows us that many of us may have a set career in mind when we first leave school, but circumstances can change over time, and if we work hard we can succeed at whatever we put our minds to!
A bit about me: Who are you, what’s your current job role, what are your interests?
I’m Lesley Don, I’m the Director of Corporate Services with Hillcrest and I’ve worked here for over 20 years. I started in admin role, moved into the Human Resources Team and worked my way through different HR roles.
From school to my first job: What was your first job after finishing school? Can you describe your career journey from this first job role to where you are now?
I left school when I was 16, as at the time I only wanted to be a hairdresser. I did my training with a large hairdresser in the city for several years, which taught me lots of valuable lessons, not just how to cut and colour hair. Hairdressing wasn’t glamorous at first, it involved working long hours and usually 6 days each week. I would do cleaning and sweep the floors, pick up the boss’s lunches, dry cleaning, and grab 10 minutes for lunch if I was lucky. As my first experience of a “proper full time job” it was a bit of a shock, but it provided me with a good work ethic and taught me the importance of team work, customer service and how not to hold a grudge (which wasn’t easy when you are 16).
I had to give up hairdressing several years later due to an injury and find a new career for myself. I returned to college which helped me learn new skills and understand more about the business world which has stood me in good stead ever since. I then worked in a GP surgery before moving to Hillcrest.
My experience at Hillcrest: When did you start at Hillcrest and what do you enjoy most about working for this organisation?
The main reason I’ve stayed with Hillcrest so long is because it’s such a great place to work. The organisation has grown significantly over the years and it’s kept my job both interesting and challenging. I’ve benefitted from lots of training, support and encouragement that I’m grateful for.
The work we do and the impact we make on our communities is quite something for us all to feel proud of.
What advice do you have for young people finishing school and who are looking for employment?
I think it’s great if a young person knows what career they want and go for it, however I also think it’s ok if they don’t. There are lots of opportunities available for young people and it may be a case of trying different things until you find something you specifically enjoy. We spend the majority of our time at work, therefore it’s so important to be in a job that makes you happy.
I was certain I knew what my career would be and for many years this was what I did. It never once occurred to me to think about a different job. However, I’ve ended up doing something completely different and I still feel lucky that I enjoy coming to my work every day. If you are willing to work hard, be flexible and open to learning, take on board feedback and guidance that people give you, then you can be a success in anything you put your mind to.
If you know any young person or school leaver who might interested in developing a career with Hillcrest, please signpost them to our careers page or send them our newly created Young Workers Recruitment Brochure, which provides lots of handy hints and tips for finding employment at Hillcrest. This can be found in the Resources section of our website: Young Workers Recruitment Brochure.