You could say that you are on a “career adventure” instead of a career path. Welcome to “Choose Your Own Adventure”! Our “career adventure” interview series charts the joys & challenges, and many different directions our career adventures can take us. Anything from career changes, working remotely, freelancing, contracting, self-employment, starting your own business, working on your own projects alongside your day job, having a side hustle or a portfolio career – all depending on what choices we make, what steps we choose to take, what opportunities or challenges that come our way in the most unlikely of places that help you to choose your own adventure.
We met Beki last year at one of her regular Digital Wombats meet-ups when we based ourselves in Chiang Mai in Thailand in 2019 for a little while before moving onto Koh Phangan. We had the pleasure of catching up with Beki in person again before we left Thailand in December.
Beki is a fellow multipassionate multipotentialite juggling many different projects at any one time! She’s either busy building fun, friendly communities both online and in-person, creating digital content or teaching online. When she isn’t working she can be found running events for digital nomads, playing with her cats, exploring Thailand (the pandemic has also impacted her on this too) or wakeboarding.
It was a pleasure interviewing you, Beki! Thanks for telling us your nomad adventure story and in doing so answering the age old question everyone has about reaching their goals: “What now? Is this it?”.
1. Tell us about yourself
Hi! I’m Beki and I’m from Bath in the South of the UK. Though I’ve lived in Manchester in the North since I was 18 so I always say Manchester instead!
I trained as a classical musician at the Royal Northern College of Music then after working as a recruitment consultant and as a teaching assistant I did a PGCE in Secondary School Music Teaching.
I’m a super enthusiastic and energetic person, I always have a million and one things going on at the same time. I have multiple hobbies & interests so there’s always lots going on!
– Girl guide leader & Local district commissioner for my area in Manchester since 2013. I absolutely love volunteering and feel strongly that it is one of the best things I have ever chosen to do.
– City of Manchester Hockey team. I used to play for these guys after uni for a couple of seasons
– Netball. My friend from Guides ran a netball team last year which I played for while I was living back in the UK for 9 months.
– I play French horn, tenor horn, Ukulele, Piano, Trumpet and and many other basic brass instruments plus I sing! While I was a secondary school music teacher, I also started my own private teaching business where I taught kids & adults brass & piano after school each day.
– I love crafting, baking, painting, making music, going to choir and making Youtube Videos!
2. What are you working on now?
After years of working on other people’s blogs and not having ownership of my writing, I decided that 2020 was going to be my year! I finally bought a domain to start up my Beki Travels blog which is in progress.
I then was asked by my gorgeous friend Lily Bruns (lilybruns.com) to join in a partnership for cococnx.com which is a super exciting project, bringing together all the services and needs a digital nomad could possibly want in Chiang Mai.
I very recently (in March 2020) had an amazing idea to build my own teaching website, which I designed, built and wrote myself with my awesome guy Emre. So I’m now in the progress of getting that business up to speed, making sure I’m delivering the best lessons I can, working out how email templates work (wtf) and getting to grips with Facebook Ads for the very first time.
3. Could you tell us about how your career adventure started? Where has your career adventure taken you in the past leading you to where you are now?
Such a good question!
I suppose, the reason why I quit my teaching job (which I loved) in 2016 was because I had, on paper, achieved the goals I set out to do when I was at school. I decided I wanted to become a music teacher when I was performing on stage at Symphony Hall in Birmingham at the National Festival of Music for Youth. I knew that music was my biggest passion and was hugely inspired by my private brass teacher.
So I did my GCSE in A level music, represented my country playing with NYBBGB (National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain) went to a prestigious internationally renowned music college, did the international and national events, played with the Halle on stage, at Bridgewater hall, the Bruckner Haus in Austria and many other amazing ‘feats’. Then completed my PGCE and BAAM at 24 I had suddenly achieved all my ‘life’s dreams’ in just 10 years from when I had decided them.
Although I enjoyed my job immensely and felt like I was making a real difference in the world I was still thinking…. is this my whole life now? Will I do this same job until I die?!?! I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe so the thought of making life-long plans to stay somewhere really gave me the ‘goolies’!
So together with my then boyfriend, we decided to give everything up and go to Thailand for 3 months. I saved up for it all year, but I had no online job at that point and no idea of how to make money. My ex had already set up his blog and was successfully making money, but I was very nervous and not at all confident of how I could use my skills to earn money online.
But I’m only realising now, 4 years on, how much I underestimated myself. After all, I’ve worked since I was 14, designing, photocopying and distributing babysitting leaflets to my neighbours including a cheeky ‘after midnight surcharge’! I’ve always worked hard at paper rounds, bar jobs, wedding catering, working at the races / rugby matches, at La Tasca, at Slug & Lettuce (a UK chain pub) from when I was 19-24 both part- time and full time.
So, when I met a girl in Thailand who taught English online I couldn’t believe that I already had the skills necessary to do this job. To live a completely free life, to work when and where I wanted and for lots of companies, decide how to teach and how much to charge!
From then on, I joined more and more companies, created my own materials, lesson plans and promotional videos including my Facebook page English Teacher Beki.
4. What past projects or anything that you have worked on spark joy for you when you look back at what you have worked on (paid or unpaid)?
Digital Wombats is an awesome meet up group I started in 2017 when I was living in Budapest. I wanted new friends who were also digital nomads and there wasn’t a suitable group available – so I made up my own!
3 years on I have 2 groups in Budapest & in Chiang Mai who total nearly 800 members. I have never charged for Wombats and get great joy from bringing together strangers and watching everyone become friends & make business contacts. This is also how I met Becky, who runs Project Anywhere, and her partner Rod!
5. How do you choose what to work on?
At the moment, I am no longer taking on any new children students as I’m working towards having more adult students who are looking for conversation, interviews, exam prep and business English.
6. What advice, practical or otherwise, would you give to someone looking to start a career adventure similar to your own?
Don’t lose faith in yourself when no one books you. They won’t. Not for a few weeks, so make sure you start off this career as a SIDE hustle. Too many people think they can just ‘jump’ into having lots of high paying private students at $30 an hour but the truth is, it takes a long time to build up your style, your materials, your marketing technique and learning how to sell yourself!
My other bit of advice would be: get qualified, there are 100s of affordable online courses you can do in order to properly train yourself.
7. Could you describe your day-to-day at “the office”?
- 7-9 Wake up / workout
- 9-12 teach / work on various projects
- 12-14 Breakfast! (I do intermittent fasting and don’t eat until 12 everyday)
- 14-16 – more teaching / projects / meetings
- 16-17 lunch time
- 17-2000 Finishing off work for the day / teaching / writing up notes etc
8. Where do you feel you work best and thrive the most?
I work best with supportive people who give compliments and constructive advice. I like people who are similar to me in that they are: polite, friendly, humble, positive and problem solvers. I have worked with hard-ballers before and it just makes me hate my life. I need to be around positive energetic people who are passionate about what they do.
9. What inspires and drives you every day?
I recently read The Four Agreements and realise that these are principles I have long lived by.
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
My goal in life is to be the most warm, open, energetic, and helpful person you’ve ever met. I think that will be my legacy.
10. What advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know now?
That everything is going to be okay.
You don’t need to be anyone else to be your best ‘you’.
You will change your mind and that is okay.
Feel free to contact us at Project Anywhere if you have any questions about any of our career adventure stories. Come back soon to read more career adventures! Contact us here if you’d like to be featured here to share your own career adventures story or if you would like to write a guest blog for Project Anywhere.
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I’m often working on stories and blogs from cafes or co-working spaces while fueled by copious amounts of tea and coffee! 🙂 If you’d like to support Project Anywhere by buying me a cuppa you can do so by clicking on the button here. Thank you! Becky x