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Who do I want to be? Free online courses as a springboard to career development throughout your working life – Melinda Seckington, Ruby Developer at FutureLearn


Melinda Seckington is a Ruby developer at FutureLearn, a social learning platform. She loves attending BarCamps, Hackdays and other tech meet ups, and since 2009 has been organising them at Geeks of London. She also writes at MissGeeky, a blog about all things geeky and girly.

Melinda Seckington
Melinda Seckington

“…It’s not expected anymore that you only end up doing one job during your life – our careers are constantly changing and evolving and we should always be dreaming about what we want to do next…”

A job for life..?

As a kid I never quite knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were so many potential cool jobs out there, how could I ever pick out that one thing I’d end up doing for the rest of my life? ‘Cause that’s how it worked, right? You picked a profession and you stuck with it until you retired.

Throughout my childhood I jumped between a variety of wannabe professions, from astronomer to archaeologist, from forensic scientist to movie director, from writer to fashion designer. There was definitely a trend, a theme to my daydreams: whatever I ended up doing had to be challenging and creative. I wanted to solve problems and puzzles or I wanted to be the one creating them.

Enabling people to learn more and in better ways

Skip forward two decades later and I’m a Ruby developer at FutureLearn. FutureLearn is a social learning platform, offering free MOOCs (massive online open courses) from globally renowned UK and international universities, centres of research excellence and specialist education providers like the British Council, Creative Skillset and the European Space Agency. I currently work in the Learning Experience team meaning I get to work on parts of the platform enabling people to learn more and in better ways.

Free online courses as a springboard to whatever you want

While I love what I do, I can’t help but wonder what other things I might want to be. It’s not expected anymore that you only end up doing one job during your life – our careers are constantly changing and evolving and we should always be dreaming about what we want to do next. If I wanted to do the roles I dreamt about as kid, where would I start? What courses could I take to help me?

Maybe I could be…

An astronomer

I could channel my inner Brian Cox, discover the stars and find out about exoplanets, starting with this course about Orion.

An archaeologist

And not just any archaeologist – an underwater one. This course on Shipwrecks means exploring beneath the waves from the comfort of my desk.

A forensic scientist

Maybe I could swap the laptop for a lab. I could have a go at identifying the dead and solving a case, or ease in with an introduction.

A movie director

Could I be the next Tarantino? He started somewhere, right? I could start by going behind the scenes of a feature film. Or maybe I’m more Wallace and Gromit and I could have a go at animation or production and visual effects. In fact we have a lot of courses about filmmaking, the hardest part is choosing!

A writer

I’m sure there’s a book in me somewhere, or at least a film. And at the very least an appreciation for good literature. 2016 could be the year I write my first novel or my first screenplay. Or maybe I’ll brush up on the greats first with Robert Burns’s poems and songs, or a bit of Shakespeare’s Othello.

A fashion designer

I might be the one to begin the next big trend. Maybe I could get myself going by understanding how big fashion retailers innovate, and discovering the story behind my favourite piece of clothing. Or I could learn how to grow a fashion business, in a sustainable and ethical way.

There are so many different things I could be, but if working at FutureLearn has taught me anything it’s that although learning and growing can be challenging, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Who knows – you might see me in the film credits or a submarine yet.

Find out more about FutureLearn courses here and join millions of people learning for free. Who do you want to be?








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