How I worked two jobs, completed a full time masters and resat my GCSE maths simultaneously.
After what was the hardest lesson of my life, in getting let go from a large pharmaceutical company in 2012 and the much needed time I took out to reflect, it was apparent what needed to happen next. I was going to launch into the property development industry with everything I had. At this point, it was September 2012, and I recently turned 24 and was committed to turning my fortunes around.
I learned that pain either destroys or builds a person up, and I decided to allow the pain of being let go to strengthen me
During what was a very introspective 40 day retreat, I decided to have a look at my GCSE grades from 2004 and thought I could improve in my maths as I had attained a D at secondary school. Funnily enough, I found maths easy but other factors caused me to get the grade which I am sure I will explore at a later post. I needed to improve this grade as I didn't want this hold me back. I always say to the younger generation "whatever you do not do properly as a child; you will likely come back to it as an adult". Utilise your youth so you can enjoy your adult years.
I decided to take a stroll to the nearby college in September 2012 and enquired about resitting my GCSE maths. The college attendant said yes, the college was enrolling students and asked for my details and then told me that the cost was £350. The sudden change in my employment situation two months beforehand meant that I only had a small amount of money left. I said I would sort the fee when I return with my proof of identity. A few days later, I came back with my ID and my life-saving credit card. As the staff inputted my details, they found that I was eligible to do the resit free of charge. I saw this as an example of God smiling down at me. So, I was reintegrating into the flow of life, and things were looking on the up.
Restarting my masters
As mentioned in the previous post, I had deferred my masters' thanks to the wisdom of an amazing mum. I contacted the university to restart in the September 2012 semester. The university then came back to me and said that the fees that I paid previously would not count towards me continuing my course and that the costs had gone up by £3,000 since I had left. I thought for a moment that this would be the end of my property development dreams, and where will I get this money to pay the masters fees?
Again, another example of God smiling down on me
I took a breathe and wrote a compassionate plea. To my amazement, the university honored the money that was paid in 2011 together with keeping me at the same fee level that I was on when I started. Again, another example of God smiling down on me. Whoever made that decision from the university, I am so grateful for them acknowledging and responding well to my compassionate plea as this played a pivotal role in the next stages of my life journey.
With all of the above wins, I still had a massive looming question that needed an answer.
How was I to pay the remainder of my university fees, transport and general upkeep with no job? I had a credit card which was almost at its limit; I was in another real-life dilemma.
The part job saga
I confidently applied for several part-time jobs that would support me in paying my school fees and allow me to cover my general upkeep. I was invited to an interview for a bank and Everything Everywhere (EE). To my surprise, I was successful in getting a role with EE.
Two jobs, masters and GCSE retake
It was now December 2011, and things were moving as planned. I launched my full self into my masters and was so engaged in the course. I guess, a perceived loss changes something within you to want to win at all costs. I was working in EE, doing OK in selling mobile phones, insurances and accessories. Even though it was hard keeping up with the targets initially, I was able to find my feet in the end. My GCSE maths evening classes were going great, and I was undeterred that I was one of the oldest in the classroom as I knew why I needed to improve my grade.
I was still short on my masters' fees which were due to paid in January 2013. My mum suggested that I consider seasonal night work for royal mail. I was reluctant to take on the second job due to my other commitments. However, as I had no other means of meeting that need of paying my school fees, I decided to go for it.
Ryder: Plan B is enforcing plan A... and the minute you stop believing me *explicitives*, that's it!
It was now late 2012; I was now doing a full-time masters, working for EE 2 or 3 times a week, attending GCSE maths classes on one evening a week and now secured a night job for 2/3 days a week. This arrangement lasted just under two months, and I was exhausted. Some call it working around the clock, but I referred to this period it the "Zombie Mode". I was practically so tired that I was sleepwalking. To top it all off, I had several essays to write for my masters and homework from my GCSE's coupled with the sales targets at EE.
At that point in my life, stress was not a concept I fully grasped or understood, so I kept on trooping and balancing all these delicate, precious plates. A statement I coined during this time was "you can't execute if you do not aim". To expand, I had an aim which was to pay my school fees, get a better grade on my GCSE maths and get into property development. The overwhelming nature of my responsibilities during this period was part of an execution stage for me to achieve my aims. Someone can have the work ethic of a warhorse, but without a precise aim, that person is like a Bugatti with no steering wheel.
During this time I watched a film called "The Taking of Pelham 123" where John Travolta played a character called Ryder. Ryder was the bad guy in a dangerous train hostage situation. Below is a short exert:
Walter Garber: I mean, don't you have a plan B?
Ryder: No, plan B is enforcing plan A... and the minute you stop believing me *explicitives*, that's it!
I adopted a similar mindset to Ryder about pursuing my goals. My plan A was to pay off my masters fees, finish my masters and obtain a better grade in my GCSE maths. And that was it! I wasn't interested in nothing else. Plan B could have been, hey do your GCSE maths next year or change your masters to part-time. But that was not an option. My plan B was to reinforce my Plan A. It was as simple as that.
After my zombie mode and what was a very challenging period of my life, I was glad to have paid the remainder of my school fees in January 2013. Sometimes I look back and think, how did I do it. I now appreciate my family members who had to work two jobs to keep a roof over their heads.
With the university fees paid and the seasonal work completed, I had more time to focus on my studies and exceed targets at work. As with all sales targets, there are peak and troughs, but I was getting better and achieving most of my targets.
Exams and the challenges that ensued
My older brother is an exceptional Maths teacher, and he was able to give me some tips on how to tackle maths problems in preparation for my GCSE maths retake in June 2013. My brother is an inspiration to me and his love and guidance gave me strength when I needed it the most. I can never forget my maths teacher, Sameer, at the college who was, in my opinion, the most passionate teacher I had ever experienced. His passion radiated and made learning fun and engaging. Maybe all teachers should be that way. The exam took place on the 14th of June 2013, and that was the end of it or was it?
I was able to prove my point.
As mentioned earlier, I fully engaged with my masters as I thought this would be my second chance to get into the property industry after completing my Building Surveying degree in 2009. I was consistently scoring 70%, which was great. After a series of exams, my mind was entirely focused on my all deciding dissertation. My dissertation topic reflected the pain I experienced after my 2009 graduation. The topic was "how does low availability of finance have an impact on rental values". In my simplistic view, I thought the rental prices will increase as a result of people not being able to get onto the property market due to the financial downturn. The challenge was, how could I prove it?
I survived on a lot less sleep than the average person, had little to no social life and had demanding work targets to meet
I looked at the Office of National Statistics ("ONS"), where I saw the information on rental indices over the years but could not find all the information I required to do a robust analysis. The hardest part was getting through 30-40 books/ publications as part of my literature review. To simplify this process, I put together a proforma, where I captured key arguments to prove my hypothesis. I was then able to get in touch with someone from the Council of
Mortgage Lenders ("CML") who sent me statistical data on all mortgage transactions during a specified period. I hit the jackpot at that point. I inputted the rental data from the ONS, and the mortgage data from CML into excel. I was able to prove my point.
Getting my grades
It was now August 2013, the GCSE results day was nearing, and I was nervous about getting the grade. My teacher emailed me to say the results will be available on Thursday 22nd of August 2013. I went to college on that day, collected my results and opened the letter and saw that I had achieved a B grade. I was chuffed but thought I should have focused more in secondary school, but hey, I got the grade I wanted.
The big decision was yet to come on my masters, and I kept on looking at the results page. After numerous attempts of refreshing over several weeks, the results came, and on seeing my grade, I cried tears of joy. I noticed that the young man whose work contract ended abruptly from his dream job, who went on to work two jobs (day and night), resat his GCSE maths and achieved a B grade and embarked on a masters' had achieved a Distinction.
There are many lessons to learn from my experience, but the key one is to stay focused on your goals.
I survived on a lot less sleep than the average person, had little to no social life and had demanding work targets to meet. The way to navigate through difficult situations is to stay concentrated on the positives. I complained at times, wanted to give up and felt like an exhausted but persistent zombie. However, my goals were my goals, and there was nothing that was going to stop me from achieving them.
For the first time, I was genuinely proud of myself
It was now the end of 2013. I looked back and smiled, thinking just a year ago I was let go from a dream job, had no masters degree and not much money. I was virtually a boat adrift at sea. Between September 2012 and December 2013, I paid my school fees off in full, obtained a B grade in my GCSE maths and achieved a distinction in my masters in Real Estate Development and investment. My unsung victory was working two jobs (day and night) whilst juggling the many other things I was doing. For the first time, I was genuinely proud of myself and coming out of that situation a better man.
My masters' grade was a surprise to many, but what people didn't appreciate was that I was motivated beyond belief to excel. I remember someone at an interview I attended saying this does not make sense, how does a person go from getting five GCSEs (now six) merits in a BTEC, 2.2 in building surveying and now a distinction in real estate masters. My response was simple; I said: "perhaps it takes some people longer to achieve excellence or even to believe that they can". If I could have spoken my mind, I would have said: "if only you know what I had been through". I guess this is the reaction of what was perceived to be a failure a year earlier.
I want to thank my mum for being who is she is to me; I couldn't have prayed for a better person to be my mother
I learned that pain either destroys or builds a person up, and I decided to allow the pain of being let go to strengthen me. In the space of a year, my life had transformed, and I was unrecognisable from the person I once was.
I want to thank my mum for being who is she is to me; I couldn't have prayed for a better person to be my mother. Her wisdom and patience are virtues that I aspire to emulate one day. If I had dropped out of my masters completely when I took the dream role, where will I be today?
I will also like to thank my older brother for just being him, my GCSE maths teacher who taught me through maths to live my life passionately and for my long time friend Gideon who helped me massively (he knows what he did).
In the next post, I will be sharing what happened after these events and how I got onto the landing of working in property development.