Swimming teacher Marion Bryant found herself desperately looking for work after the job she had been offered in New Zealand fell through following the Covid-19 outbreak.
But after switching from one temporary job to another – from a care home to a curtain factory – the 25-year-old from Norwich was offered a two-year contract as a swim tutor in Dubai.
She talked about her experience of the job market during Covid-19 and her surprise new role abroad after New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership launched an interactive support finder aimed at helping people access jobs and training.
The online programme directs job seekers to the advice, help and training that is available to them from organisations across Norfolk and Suffolk, and builds on the promotion of live vacancies on the LEP’s website, particularly in key sectors hit by the virus.
Said Marion: “I worked at Town Close School in Norwich for five years and handed in my notice in November when I got the job offer for New Zealand, and it just so happened that my resignation coincided with the end of March, by which time New Zealand wasn’t happening and I was unemployed.
“To start with I thought, ‘This isn’t ideal’. But I am quite positive anyway and I thought, ‘If it’s going to happen it will happen’ and I was open to doing anything in the meantime.
For three weeks, Marion managed a holiday club for Town Close over the Easter holidays, after which she began applying for jobs. When no opportunities came up, she looked at more temporary roles simply to earn some money.
“I did a couple of shifts with a care agency and found that work just wasn’t for me and one shift with Amazon, scanning boxes for seven hours. Then I found a job doing customer service at a curtain factory, but that was a one-month temporary contract.
“But I was quite lucky because I got part-time work in a pub and did a month there before re-starting my own business. I’ve been running my own business for the past 18 months offering private swimming lessons for all ages, so I started doing that again in July and was just hoping that something would come up.
“When this all kicked off six months ago, I thought, ‘Well, there’s a reason I’m not going to New Zealand. I don’t know what it is now, but in six months’ time it will become clear’.”
Her positiveness paid off. She received a notification that the Swim England careers page was live again and when she logged on, she spotted an advert for a job as a teacher and assistant venue lead with Speedo Swim Squads in Dubai. Without hesitation she sent off her CV and a cover letter.
“I got his phone call from the UAE and I thought, ‘Why is someone from Dubai calling me?’ said Marion. “Then I remembered that I’d applied for this job. It was one of those things where I applied on a bit of a whim.”
Marion’s own swimming career began in Southwold when she determined to swim faster than her brother. By the time she reached her teens, she was competing at regional and national level and at the time of her GCSEs she moved to a smaller swimming club which put her through all her teaching qualifications.
At 25, Marion is still competing, taking part in Masters’ competitions. She used the hiatus period of lockdown to work towards her long-term ambition of coaching swimming teachers on behalf of Swim England, signing up for and completing her Level 3 in Education & Training in just three weeks. And she also managed to build up her own business, Splash into Swimming, to the point where she was able to hand over the running of it before she flew off to Dubai.
Natasha Waller, Skills Manager for New Anglia LEP, praised Marion’s response to finding herself without a job. “Lots of people are having to reappraise their lives at the moment,” she said. “Although sometimes difficult, taking the positives out of a negative situation will make you more determined to find your way forward.
“Marion wasn’t afraid to take different roles utilising her transferable skills, even at a young age. I hope others are inspired when they read her story!”
To access the Job Support Programme, go to https://newanglia.co.uk/job-support-programme/