Soo Mi Do
I arrived in the UK aged 13 not speaking English and, while I wasn’t at an educational disadvantage myself, it certainly gave me an insight into how important education is for social mobility, and how out of reach it is for some people.
As a teacher you impact the lives of your students in so many ways. I was delighted to have my Year 8 top class attempting GCSE questions and passing at C or above but I was equally delighted when everyone in a less able class was there on time, with all the right equipment. And some of the impact is beyond any normal measure: I was contacted by some of my former students three years after I taught them and invited to attend their prom night. They felt I had influenced their school careers and wanted me to be there. That’s a special feeling that you won’t get anywhere else.
Since joining PwC I’ve helped to launch an initiative called PwC Classrooms, which is helping 60 students across 10 schools, selected by their socio-economic profile, to enhance their work readiness and gain access to professional opportunities. We have about 200 volunteers – some of whom are Teach First ambassadors – and we provide mentoring and coaching over two years, including eight full days at our offices, where students learn some of the softer business skills, such as team-working and professional behaviour.
Teach First gave me a lot of the skills and experiences that I draw on during my daily work, particularly around being level-headed and calm under pressure. If you can manage a class of tired teenagers then there’s not much in the business world that will faze you. I think as a teacher you learn to be in tune with your audience, to listen properly and build trust, and to handle pressure and be reflective. All of these qualities are part of what I do now.
I came across PwC during my first summer on the Leadership Development Programme and applied to do my Summer Project there. I liked it and was fortunate enough to be offered a full-time place off the back of the internship. I had decided that after two years I would be ready for something new again. That’s one of the great reasons for joining Teach First – it leads to so many other opportunities, and you can always return to teaching in the future.