October 9, 2013 9.52 am This story is over 98 months old

How do you find your vocation in life?

Opportunity knocking: Lincoln UTC Principal Rona Mackenzie reflects on the journey of life and what leads people to be the person they are today.

Have you ever stopped to consider how you got to where you are today? I don’t mean whether you hopped on a bus or commuted in the car to your place of work, nor do I mean how you came to be reading this Lincolnite column. I wonder if you take the time to reflect back on the journey of your life and what led you to be the person you are today.

Life has so many twists and turns, junctions and crossroads, opportunities and impediments. Many decisions are made, doors opened, avenues followed and opportunities forsaken; do we ever have time to reflect and consider what has contributed to our achievements?

In my new job I meet a huge range of inspiring people but I am often asked what led me to take on my new and exciting role. Whilst I am as inquisitive as them, I allow myself this moment of indulgence as I reflect back on the professional roles I have held over my sixteen-year career, spanning seven schools and academies.

These conversations remind me of the numerous students I have both taught and learnt from, the talented staff I have worked alongside and the communities within which I have lived and worked. As I think about what led me to each new post, new school community and new challenges I am always reminded of the doors that opened, the opportunities created, those that supported me in my decisions and the excitement and challenges that have emerged along the way.

Last night I met with a young man and his mother as he discussed his application for a place in our Sixth Form. As we talked, we explored the subjects he is studying, his interests, hobbies and the career pathway he is considering to pursue. Our discussion took me back to a time when I too had the same conversation but under very different circumstances.

The daughter of an RAF Engineer and a Specialist Nurse, I believed that nursing was to be my vocation in life. Careers advice led me to study science A Levels but during this time a doubt grew in my mind and in my heart: this future did not feel right. A chance conversation with a family friend, a secondary school teacher, offered me a very different career opportunity. It ignited my interests, fuelled my passion and in truth I never looked back.

Over the years I have been fortunate to receive diverse career choices when opportunities for promotion have arisen. I, like many others, have worked hard to develop my skills, broaden my experiences, and prepare myself for the next step.

I hold the belief that when doors of opportunity come into view we must stop to open them up fully, taking a long, hard look at what lies behind the door and judge the choice before us.

By talking with people we respect and trust, considering our options and discussing the opportunity we can make a decision. We know in our hearts when an opportunity feels right and we know in our minds when the opportunity makes sense for us at that moment in time. Then can we choose our destination and enjoy the new opportunities and challenges ahead.

The young man I met last night is not certain as to his career pathway. He is, however, confident that the subjects he loves, that capture his interest and spark his enthusiasm, are the subjects we are offering. I am sure that his journey over the next few years will be filled with challenges; exciting moments of stress and exhilaration.

It won’t be a straight road, or an easy one. There will be difficult choices, new opportunities, tempting distractions around every bend and at every fork and junction. However, at some point in the future, I trust he will take the time to look back on what I hope will be a successful career, and reflect on his journey with pleasure, satisfaction and a desire to carry on learning.

— Lincoln University Technical College will be hosting an open day at the Engineering Hub, University of Lincoln, on Thursday, October 10, between 5.30pm and 8pm. Rona Mackenzie will give a presentation and an update regarding new steps in the UTC development (transport funding, curriculum, application deadlines). As the UTC will work closely with national and international businesses, a number of companies will attend the open day to talk about future collaboration and careers prospects for students. Rapidelec, Siemens, Micrometric, Filemaker, Eminox, Bifrangi UK and other businesses will participate in the event.

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Dr. Rona Mackenzie is Principal of Lincoln University Technical College (UTC). She has a strong background in education, having worked in six local authorities during her career, and is passionate about providing an education that meet the needs of young people and their community industries. She is a keen sportswoman and mountaineer, recently trekking to Everest Base Camp, and has an interest in photography.