by Emily Bailey, SBY Business Manager


I often reflect on the winding career pathway that has led me to my current role. My first job at age 14 was at a haberdasher, and I loved the creativity that it entailed, creating window displays, and rearranging the wools, threads and fabrics into colour swatches. It also equipped me early on with great communication skills as I had to talk to colleagues, customers and delivery drivers at a time when I was going through my most awkward teenage phase!

Since then I have had roles in bars, bakeries, record shops, cafes, and I even had my own business selling greetings cards. Each of these roles have helped me develop my transferable skills and equipped me well for my role as Business Manager of SBY. But I would never have imagined at the age of 14 what I would be doing now! This just shows how diverse your career journey can be, and that no job is a bad job, as they all help you develop different skills.

I asked some of my colleagues what jobs they have done that have led them to where they are today.


Christine, Head of Education

First job: Saturday job in a café/bakery

Transferable skills:

    • communication
    • time management
    • relating to members of the public

Other roles I’ve done: office/admin/data entry work at a range of businesses including lawyers/solicitors, car showrooms and Ashton Gate Stadium, and Primary School Teacher!

What information would have been useful earlier in my career journey?

    • that I have far more resilience than I could have ever imagined at 18!
    • that primary teaching would be the most rewarding job I have ever done but also on some days the most challenging
    • that teaching gives you skills that apply to almost any other job!


Claire, Finance Manager

First job: working in the bar at the Bristol Hippodrome

Main duties: serving drinks, taking and cashing up money, putting out pre-orders, and clearing up

Transferable skills:

    • dealing with a very wide variety of people from different backgrounds
    • Helping / training new staff and seeing where they needed more support
    • Adapting between very quiet and suddenly very busy times when we had to work quickly

Other roles I’ve done: working as a home care assistant, a tutor for autistic children, a trainee in an accountancy firm and a tax manager.

What information would have been useful earlier in my career journey?

  • A better understanding of my own skills and what I find hardest. My jobs as a home care assistant and working with children I found unusually exhausting!
  • You can change careers and reassess what works for you, as sometimes you only realise this by trial and error.

I wouldn’t change anything as every job I’ve had has added to my experience and I’ve learned something through all of them.


Gemma,  Head of Marketing and Comms

First job after uni: working in an HR department in a London rail company

Transferable skills:

    • organisation and project management
    • communication skills
    • creativity

Other roles I’ve done: working in a Disney Store, bar work, and working in a bank.

What information would have been useful earlier in my career journey?

I wish I had really taken my time to look at careers options when I was at 6th Form and university, and understood the career path and qualifications involved.


Sabina, Data Administrator

First job:  a Saturday job as Photographer’s Receptionist, age 15

Transferable skills:

    • Working as part of a Team as well as under own initiative
    • Customer Service
    • Flexibility to work shifts and extra hours

Other roles I’ve done: Manager of Ladbrokes betting office on the Gloucester Road,

Solicitor’s Clerk, Teaching Assistant in a Primary school

What information would have been useful earlier in my career journey?

    • Exams help with your first steps but experience is more valuable as you grow as a person
    • Nothing is beyond you, it just might take you longer to get there or a different route to others
    • Facing your fears may help build your confidence but doesn’t mean you have to keep going if it turns out to not be your thing
    • You are a part of a something important and rewarding, you just have to get out there and let it find you!


Steph, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

First job: waitress on a steam train

Transferable skills:

    • Attention to detail
    • Conflict management
    • Interpersonal skills…

…and good balance!

Other roles I’ve done: Platinum Bar Staff at Glorious Goodwood, Assistant Manager of a shop in Vancouver, Business to Business Sales and Account Manager.

What information would have been useful earlier in my career journey?

That a career journey doesn’t have to be a straight line and it’s alright if your interests and priorities change over time (and, therefore, you change direction with them).


Brett, Project Coordinator

First ‘unofficial’ job!: creating a construction company’s manual by copying and pasting different documents and logos etc into one place.

First ‘official’ job: Activity Leader on an international summer school (with 7-11 yr olds)

Transferable skills:

    • Communicating clearly (as for all the students English was their second language)
    • adaptability (working with such a young age you have to react quickly to things)
    • balancing multiple responsibilities (planning sessions, writing reports, looking after sports equipment etc)

Other roles I’ve done: Academic Mentor in a secondary school, Administrative Assistant in a transport company

What information would have been useful earlier in my career journey?

That the COVID pandemic was going to hit when and last as long as it did!

the importance of resilience in searching for a job. Sometimes somebody else gets the job you really wanted and to not take that personally but bounce back positively is really important. This can be hard to do the first couple of times!