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From Top 40 to Topsoil

Sarah Stewart from Edinburgh, worked for 10 years in Virgin Our Price Record shops; starting as a Christmas temp in 1994 and swiftly working her way up to the appointment of Store Manager. Sarah enjoyed the fast-paced environment of music retail but it became increasingly difficult to juggle family life with the long working hours, and so she made the decision to leave permanent employment to concentrate on being a Mum.

“After leaving Virgin in 2004, I was self-employed for 8 years painting glow-in-the-dark, night sky ceiling murals. I loved this job not only for the creativity aspect but also the flexibility it allowed, enabling me to arrange my work around childcare and ensuring that I was able to be actively involved in all their school events and activities whilst earning.”

Lured by a regular, guaranteed salary, Sarah returned to permanent employment in a Medical Practice, digitalising and coding patient’s medical records. After 3 years in the post, she was offered a position within the Project Management Team of a firm in the city centre. Accepting this position proved to be an unwise decision and left her feeling very low and disillusioned, but ultimately it led Sarah to reconsider her career path.

Sarah Steward

My last job taught me a lot of things about myself, but more importantly made me realise that sitting at a desk all day is not for me. I needed a career that could offer variety, allow me to use my creativity and give me a sense of fulfilment.”

“Whilst on a visit to the Royal Highland Show, I popped into the SRUC tent and picked up a prospectus. Flicking through it a number of weeks later I came across the Garden Design course and further investigations revealed that there was a college open day the following week. I attended this open day with the intention of signing up to a part-time HND…and left having signed up to the full-time BSc in Garden and Greenspace Design. Five weeks later I started the course!”

I was concerned that I would feel like an old lady in a class of teenagers, but was delighted to find that the class was very varied and had students of many ages and nationalities. I have loved that we have become such a close class and have enjoyed forming bonds and relationships with all of my classmates as well as making some life-long friends.”

The course itself has been hard work and very full-on but it has also been very enjoyable. Good time management, gained from years of experience, has ensured that I have been able to meet all deadlines and offer a good standard of work.”

“Working towards a career that I am really excited about has given me an energy and enthusiasm that I have not experienced for many years. Whilst there have been moments of total exhaustion, overall I feel that I have a bounce back in my step and am excited about where my future path will take me”.


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