My name is Alexandra. I am originally from Russia, and until 5 years ago, did not speak a word of English. I came to England on a student visa to learn English. While over here, I met my future husband to be, but due to the course coming to an end, and my visa expiring, I had to return to Russia.
My life and relationship were difficult with him having to travel to Russia every two weeks to see me, which was emotionally, as well as financially draining, but there was little we could do at the time.
After a year, my boyfriend persuaded me to try again to apply for a visa for the UK, and this was thankfully granted.
During the time back in the UK, I was prohibited from working, due to visa restrictions, so I had a rather lowly time during the days while my partner was working. I did manage to complete an English courses, which improved my English greatly, but it was expensive, and to be honest, were just a means to and end and I could not really see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Evenings of course we’re great, but I was missing being able to work, and get out and make friends, through the usual working channels.
After 2 months my boyfriend surprised me by proposing. I was ecstatic.
We were married shortly after this. From this moment on, I started looking for work. Unfortunately though there was nothing about. I spent about a year looking and was unable to find anything. I decided to do a further English qualifications and try and improve my chances but this was again expensive and I had no real understanding of what I wanted to do.
My husband was fantastic, but funds were low and I was becoming very disheartened about the chances of finding work in the UK.
A few month later I discovered I was pregnant, and the employment hunt was put on hold as no one would want to hire someone about to give birth!
Eventually we had a beautiful baby girl called Victoria. She was everything to us and all my time was taken looking after her, but after a year, she started to become easier to handle my thoughts returned to looking for employment.
I spent a long time trying to figure out the best thing to do and he suggested that it would be a good idea to try and train specifically for a profession. As I was fairly good with numbers we thought that something to do with accounting could be a good idea, but I was a little nervous. We finally realised that we needed to invest in our future as a family, and the best way to do this would be for me to look at a course or a set of courses that would hopefully set me on a career path that I could really get my teeth into and pursue as a long term goal.
We spent a long time looking online for various courses and colleges. We finally stumbled across Pitman Training, Holborn. I had a chat with a course adviser and accountancy was agreed. The courses also looked extremely flexible, so I could work around looking after Victoria, nursery and looking after my husband.
I decided to pursue the AAT qualification. This looked to be something that would give me the foundation that I would require, as well as supporting me through further development if and when I managed to secure a job.
I started in the training centre in Holborn and found that the centre and staff were very good indeed. All the coursework and equipment was first rate. Staff were there to help and answer questions and the computers were all equipped to run whatever software I needed.
I was directed through the fist parts of the course and encouraged to take the examinations early. With obvious trepidation, I prepared and took each of the examination in turn, and was ecstatic to find that every exam I was taking I was passing. The course was for 1 year, but after 6 months I realised that I had passed every exam I had taken. I had achieved my AAT level 2 Certificate in accounting in six months. I then decided to take further courses and examinations around pc skills, advanced excel and computer skills and passed those.
I was feeling very confident and started applying again for jobs. In the mean time, I decided to look at commencing the next level of the AAT course. Within a month of looking for employment, I was offered an accounting role in the City of London for a litigation company. It was part time so game me the flexibility to look after Victoria, get well paid for working in a successful London based City firm, and continue to study for my accountancy qualifications through Pitman Training.
Considering my journey started in the UK 5 years ago, the last year has brought me so much. The confidence I now have, and the optimism I now hold, I believe, is directly related to the choice to retrain in a clear career path. Pitman Training have been instrumental to my educational growth, and I will continue to pursue their courses to fulfill my ambition to achieve the highest qualifications I can in the accounting profession.