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Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?

#1 Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
13/05/2007 05:53


Hi there all,

I have a real tricky situation that I would really appreciate some unbiased opinions on!

My situation is this: I have absolutely no relevant industry experience, 2 degrees a BEng & MSc and for a variety of reasons which I won't go into here I will be 26 soon...

Now, I have been made an offer for the Teach First programme - which is a 2 year programme, meaning that by the time I finish I will be 28... after which I sincerely *hope* to finally begin starting my long-term professional career.

But to me being 28 and only just starting to go into industry/the business world feels a bit late... I imagine that I will be 28 starting on a graduate programme at, say a Big 4 firm, whilst all around me are fresh grads at 22-24?

In all honesty, were it not for this slight concern of age/time I would most definitely accept the Teach First programme.

While I will be upfront and say that teaching is not in my long-term career plans, it is something I would like to have a go at, plus if it really is as highly regarded as I have heard (please correct me here if I am wrong) then it sounds that employers will value the skills I would learn over the 2 years.

Just to clarify, my goal is to pursue a consultancy career and aspire to be in management positions (much later on of course) - ideally I would really love to join Deloitte, but I was unsuccessful this year - my own fault as I have come to accept - I reeked of over eagerness & desperation. And inexperienced with dealing with assessment centres...

But do you think that those 2 years spent on Teach First is a worthy investment? Or would I be better off spending those 2 years gaining industry/business experience in a Big 4 firm?

My deadline to reply to Teach First is looming in a few weeks - so I have some very tough decisions to make!

I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who has an opinion on this!

Thank you all for your time!

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#2 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
13/05/2007 06:04

ian28 to ian28 (#1)

Oh, I forgot to add:

I also intend to study for an MBA after a few years experience!

So at the moment it looks like I will be a 29/30 MBA student if I don't do Teach First... 31/32 if I do...

So I don't know if that might make any difference to anyone's advice...

Is there such a thing as an "ideal age" to do an MBA? Aside from the correlation with age to disposable income and experience...

Hahaha, all these 'age' issues - I am so thankful for recent age discrimination laws!

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#3 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
13/05/2007 09:29

anon to ian28 (#2)

I am in a similar situation. Let me tell you that you are not too old and get that stupid thought out of your head. Of course, there is people there who start work by 20 and by 26 are managers, but...this is life. In the long term it will not matter that much. Here is what I would do if I were you. Accept the offer...I am assuming you start in September with them, right? So meanwhile, keep applying to other places. If you find nothing better to do till September then you go on working for them. If you do, it will not be the end of the world if you do not join them. After all, we all are numbers to companies at this stage. They should be numbers for us too. One has to keep searching till finding something appropriate. It is life.

And by the way, despite the crap companies sell to us in recruitment event, Teach First is really not that highly regarded. Some pathetic measure of the government to deal with lack of teachers. Given how underpaid they are here in UK, I am not surprised.

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#4 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
13/05/2007 14:06

Harsh reality to anon (#3)

You will be too old. You probably already are to be considered for a grad position. Ultimately, though it depends on market conditions. I am a bit older than you and graduated in a fairly weak job market for graduates. Several of the grad schemes actually got cancelled - even by the companies we now see as major employers in the graduate market. I went to work abroad for a couple of years and returned to find that while things were a little better, I was by now applying for grad schemes with 2 years of management experience gained in an international environment. I thought this would be a good thing but found that it was anything but. If you want to be considered as graduate intake, it is quite important to have only a minimum of experience combined with good academics. A lot of people in my year group had the same problem. Due to the lack of grad opportunities at the time we went off and got jobs. When we attempted to re-enter the grad recruitment market, we were losing out to those who were either 2 years younger than us or were the same age but had spent the previous 2 years travelling, on a university committee, teaching, unemployed, continuing their education etc. This is not to be bitter, far from it, as I have a great job now. The mere fact is that graduate schemes are on the job training programmes. Companies are a lot more comfortable if you are a relatively blank canvass when you join. In my case (and that of many of my friends at the time), I had the sense I got was that companies felt they would have to knock out of me what I had learned before starting again.

Also, on grad schemes, you often have to work all over the place and be completely mobile. In my case, I was getting engaged, looking to buy our first house etc by the time I presented myself 2nd time in my mid '20s. They say it is not a problem but in reality it is. Those running a grad scheme want to be able to send you to the other end of the country on a 6 month placement, often at very short notice, and for you to be quite comfortable with this. Inevitably when you are a bit older, you become slightly less flexible as your personal circumstance change. This inevitably comes across (albeit subliminally) in an interview.

I would acho the advice of the previous poster. If you are not getting offers, you probably never will. You become less attractive to these guys the older you get and you will live to regret it if you waste the whole of your twenties chasing something you may never achieve. Things happen (or don't happen) for a reason, roll with the changes and late fate play a hand...

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#5 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
13/05/2007 19:36

p to Harsh reality (#4)

Let me start by stating I know exactly what you're going through. I'm 26 at the mo and working in a non-finance industry (health professional). However, I was always allured to the finance world and esp consulting. I applied last year and received an offer from the consulting branch of a Big Four firm (the accountancy big four, not the MBBB group).

My point is this: Yes you are going to have to go back a few years. I'll be colleagues with fresh-faced grads who'll want to go out on the lash at any occasion (not sterotyping honest!) whilst I'd rather go home and be with my wife. I also realise there'll be many late nights and travelling but its a sacrifice worth doing for myself and my family as in the future, I'll be in a better place.

Give the application a shot - then decide. You arent too old at all and as long as you havent whiled away your twenties smoking we*d in your garden shed and you've done something with yourself, you'll offer something else to firms that younger guys may not have- experience.

But there are other people in your boat - at the end of the day, its your life. If you're a grad position at 30, so bloody what. Its a means to an end - sacrifice a little now, it'll hopefully be worth it in the end.

Good luck

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#6 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
19/05/2007 22:13

ian28 to p (#5)

Firstly, thank you very much for the open and honest comments!

I'm really grateful for the encouragement from anon & p - assuring me that 28 is not too old... I may even start to actually believe that if I hear it a few mores times!

Equally, I'm grateful for Harsh Reality for, well telling me the harsh reality! I think you raised a very good point, one I had not considered at all, in the 2nd paragraph about the demand of travel with the change of personal circumstances in the mid-20's. Admittedly settling down is not on my mind yet - but certainly things could change for me over the next 3-5 years.

Similarly, you mentioned that much depends on the state of the graduate job market - again I hadn't thought too far ahead in this regard... so again thanks for the heads up!

Regarding that blank canvas comment - do you not think that I would be a blank canvas if I spent the next 2 years on this Teach First (TF) programme? After all, all I will have is 2 years of experience in managing and teaching - not really *directly* relevant industry experience to a Big 4 or any other consultancy...

From your overall comments, dare I ask whether you believe the age disciminations laws have any sort of benefit to people in similar situations?

In response to anon & p:

It is an honest relief that there are others who are in my position... However, I am still not 100% convinced whether it is the right move for me - ok, so if I do not get an offer before Sept then perhaps the choice is clear - but having said that would I *really* be better off doing TF instead of waiting a couple of months and reapplying to the grad programs again? Essentially I can reapply in November, and then there were some firms who I never applied to in the first place, so I could do so anytime from now...

I am very surprised about anon's comment about TF's 'reputation' - although I did ask for the honest truth!

I can sympathise with p's comment about fresh grads wanting to get lashed at the end of the working week - but I've had that feeling throughout my time at uni, and as I don't drink myself, I've developed and perfected a reasonable excuse to avoid this... hahaha.

Can I ask for some further comments and opinions? In light of what anon said about TF's reputation, I'd be very interested to hear from any recruiters on these forums - and indeed anyone who is either a current/former TF participant OR someone who has worked with one.

Do you feel that the TF particiapnts have an improved sense of leadership and people management?

Muchos gracias!

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#7 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
19/05/2007 22:45

anon to ian28 (#6)

teaching is as much a voaction as a career, i can't see the point in training for 2 years if you are going to pack it in later

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#8 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
20/05/2007 00:24

Cyn to anon (#7)

Teach First is a dilemma. You really should only go into teaching if you want to be a teacher. Even with the promise of job afterwards, Teach First has a shockingly high turnover rate of grads who can't stand two years of working in some of the worst schools. Can hardly blame them.

Credit to the marketing guys at Teach First, but at the end of the day, if you want to become a teacher, become a teacher. If you want to become an accountant, join a grad scheme and within a week you'll have got as much professional development as you'll get through the whole TF programme.

It's unfortunate, but if you need to join TF to get a decent job then you're probably not cut out for a career in professional services. Equally, you probably don't have the commitment to make it as a good teacher. So, why bother with this half-arsed programme?

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#9 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
20/05/2007 10:00

Matt to Cyn (#8)

I'd just like to comment on the whole having to be a colleague to a load of fresh grads. As one myself I would like to point out that to the majority of us age is not an issue, although it may be to you. Sure when most of us started uni we were used to having our whole year group being the same age, yet at uni you're surrounded by people who have taken numerous years out, are on a 2nd degree etc and it just doesn't matter, and it matters even less now I have started my grad scheme where some people are older than yourself. And if you're worried about your age, you may appreciate a bit of youth in your life!

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#10 Teach First (TF)
20/05/2007 19:03

ian28 to Cyn (#8)

Hi there all,

I've noticed a bit of confusion/misunderstanding about the Teach First (TF) programme.

Should you be interested in further details, here's the website:

BUT, one of the main points about the programme is that it isn't just a fast-track option to full-time teaching; for many people considering TF (myself included) it is simply a programme that lets you teach for 2 years before moving onto something else... to suggest that there is a high turnover rate for the programme is somewhat spurious - as that is the point for many participants.

Whilst I do partly agree with some of the comments about teaching to be a teacher - not just for 2 years...

If I may ask a direct question to those who seem to have responded rather negatively about the programme;

'Are you saying that you see absolutely no benefit of TF, in terms of developing/improving the transferable skills required for a professional services career - and that by doing TF I would be making a bad move?'

In truth I am trying to seek out these very answers, so please don't interpret my reply as being particularly defensive to your comments - I do really appreciate honest objective opinions... however brutal they may be...


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#11 RE: Teach First (TF)
21/05/2007 13:55

Krypton to ian28 (#10)

I fail to see the problem here. Agree to do the teaching job, and leave if you get a better offer. Surely this is the only logical conclusion (given that you think teaching is better than no job, and that consulting is better than teaching)?

And as far as the age discrimination thing goes, it’s illegal to say you only hire people under 25, but they can still reject you if you graduated more than a year ago if they want. I’d imagine it would be hard to get onto any graduate scheme 2.5 years after graduating however old you are.

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#12 RE: Teach First (TF)
23/05/2007 11:54

Ash to Krypton (#11)

I'm just about to finish the Teach First Programme, and am starting with Deloitte Csonulting this Summer! What a co-incidence! Reply back here with your e-mail address if you want a chat/some advice

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#13 RE: Teach First (TF)
23/05/2007 23:04

ian28 to Ash (#12)


What a coincidence indeed! It must be my lucky day...except my team just lost in the CL final... no need for names here...

ANYWAYS I digress...

Yes absolutely, I would be very interested to hear your opinion and advice!

If you could contact me at that would be great!

My deadline to reply TF is coming up very soon! So I would REALLY appreciate hearing your thoughts.


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#14 RE: Teach First (TF)
24/05/2007 14:14

Ash to ian28 (#13)

you have mail ian

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#15 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
20/06/2007 20:42

ian 28 to ian28 (#1)

Hello there all,

Firstly - although it is rather a bit late and all... sorry! Thank you very much for all your advice and opinions over the past month and a half.

It was an eye-opener; you all mentioned a lot of factors and issues that I didn't consider before, so it has been really helpful for me in making an informed decision. So thank you indeed!

I thought that you might like to know, the conclusion to my own mini-crisis, to tie up the loose ends of this thread. At the end, I had a very interesting and annoying dilemma, having had a couple of rejections earlier in the year - suddenly I had 3 on the table to weigh up. Teach First vs. 2xBig 4... Right before I got the last 2 offers - I had 'made my peace' and was about to accept the Teach First offer - for lack of alternatives more than anything tbh - then the 2 other offers came in and it was all rather messy and dramatic... Back I went to the decision-drawing board...

Yada yada yada... long story short... Last week I decided to accept the Teach First offer anyway... I felt really up for the challenge and was really excited about teaching... I was to be honest only kinda lukewarm about the other 2 offers... although, as I mentioned before... I was kinda desperate to get my long-term career wheels rolling... I also figured that Teach First is something I can only do now... i.e. the Big 4 route is viable after TF, but the reverse is not true.

I admit, I did have my moments of doubt - a lot of people were advising me not to Teach First, some from these forums, yes - but also a lot of friends and acquaintances...

Well, anyways, that is that... I start on my training very very soon, and will begin my life as a teacher - a very badly paid one I might add - in September... and I can honestly say I am looking forward to it!

Thank you once again for all the advice!

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#16 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
20/06/2007 21:36

anon to ian 28 (#15)

Good luck, ian


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#17 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
21/06/2007 11:11

Ash to anon (#16)

Nice one ian, it's going to be an amaznig experience. I'm gonna miss teaching after these last four weeks... although I say that as I am typing this message and about to go and scream at this crazy Year 10 girl who's about to literally jump out of the window. Nice.

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#18 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
21/06/2007 11:35

anon to Ash (#17)

there needs to be a "Teach Last" programme, make your money in your first career, then go and do something worthwhile and rewarding like teaching

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#19 RE: Should I Teach First Or would I be 'too old'?
21/06/2007 17:49

ian28 to anon (#18)

"Teach Last"? Funny you should mention that...,dwp_uuid=1f705706-5aa4-11db-84ce-0000779e2340.html

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