Interview with Joanna O’Brien, Owner/Director of a Pre school Platinum Preschool
Has someone told you that they think you should work in child care, but you’re unsure? Perhaps you have little or no experience in the industry but feel you can really make a difference? The truth is, if you believe you have something to offer, you can and should make the steps to making care a big part of your life.
The child care industry is always looking for talented and passionate professionals who see duty of care as a calling, not an occupation. You can use your skills and life experiences to benefit others, enhance your own parenting skills, knowledge and help young people to reach their potential.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that there are 1.5 million Australian children aged 12 and under that currently have regular child care arrangements and around 750 000 of those children attend formal child care. That’s a big market, and with the population growing year upon year – your passion and skills will help drive care practices forward.
Joanna O'Brien identified child care as a joyful and fulfilling career choice 17 years ago, one where hard work was recognised not by a balance sheet but by how many smiling faces she had at the end of the day. Having established Platinum Pre School, she confirmed that caring and supporting the development of a child was the path she wanted to tread. Now she has an extended family that reaches far beyond her own. It’s something she is very happy about.
Don’t put your life on hold. Make the steps you want to take and look forward to a more fulfilling role within your community.
An evolving career path into child care
My career in child care evolved after developing a strong foundation in in the education industry as a primary school teacher. Whilst my business partner and I were looking for suitable preschools for our own daughters we saw a desperate need in the Sydney area for pre schools with a strong focus on education and school readiness.
With a clear understanding of the social, emotional and academic skills that children need to successfully transition into the primary school world, we set out to create a preschool that balances these skills and helps them to develop a love of learning.
Studying to get the job role you find desirable
I studied a double degree, a Bachelor of Teaching and Bachelor of Education at the Australian Catholic University. After completing my degree I worked as a casual primary school before securing a permanent position at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Primary School in Randwick.
At OLSH I worked across various year groups developing a strong knowledge of what children need to successfully traverse the bumpy social, emotional and academic landscape of primary school. Whilst at OLSH I achieved the position of Assistant Principal where I developed many of the management skills I use on a day-to-day basis whilst running Platinum Pre School.
After opening the first Platinum campus in Randwick I completed a Diploma in Children's Services in order to give myself a better foundation in some of the early years areas and child care regulatory requirements that were not covered in my original degrees.
The typical career path of a child care worker at Platinum Pre School
I feel that there is no such thing as a typical career path for a child care worker. As we're sure many who work in the industry will attest to, working with young children is an immensely rewarding profession that some people come into through workplace traineeships whilst others first complete degrees in early education. At Platinum we are proud members of our local communities and are regularly involved in community events and activities.
Working in this industry gives you an opportunity to be involved in something larger than yourself and extremely worthwhile. It is a very social profession that requires you have an understanding of people from all walks of life and an ability to interact with them at a very personal level. Being in charge of the education of our community's youngest generation requires a very special type of person that understands the responsibility that they carry on their shoulders, but also has the ability to create a fun and interactive environment for their students.
What do child care students need to focus on?
Enthusiastically pursue a placement at a pre school or child care centre that you would love to work at. Call them and try to arrange a time when you can pop in and meet the centre manager or director or at least drop off some information about yourself. We regularly get students calling and emailing us about placements at Platinum and it is easy to tell the difference between the students that have a passion for early education and the ones that are just "going through the paces".
If you are really committed to working in our industry let your passion shine through. We love to see people who really want to work with us and it makes us want to work with you.
The success of a preschool depends on hard work
The secret to running a successful pre school is hard work, dedication, enthusiasm and constantly staying ahead of the curve. At Platinum we are committed to maintaining a high quality educational experience that focuses on each individual child. We are a boutique business and will always continue to make our clients feel special regardless of our growth plans.
Platinum Pre School offers a uniquely different approach to pre school education. Through the use of strong educational programs, information technologies and open communication we are forcing a sea-change in the industry. We are strong believers that positive experiences at this early stage of our students’ lives plants the seeds for creating lifelong earners. We are proud to be able to offer a service to our communities that have so many positive effects on people’s lives and we look forward to continuing in going from strengthto-strength for many years to come.
Best advice for entering the child care or early childhood industry
There are very few jobs that provide such a variety of different interactions and experiences on a day-to-day basis. It's never boring in early education!
In order to succeed in this industry it is important to know what you are getting into. Early education requires constant vigilance, an excellent knowledge of the education requirements of young children, a strong understanding of regulatory requirements and an ability to work well with both parents and other staff members from all walks of life.
In saying that, if you feel that you have the ability to develop these skills then there are very few industries that are more rewarding and that offer a stronger sense of self worth with the knowledge that the impact you have is helping to shape the future of a new generation.