After being a carer for her dad and her grandmother from the age of 14, Tallitha Walton decided to leave college to become a full-time carer. Today she is an infrastructure technician apprentice across at ITS and really enjoys her role.
Where do you call home?
Can I be silly and say wherever your heart is? I’m kidding – I live in Chilton, born in Gateshead. I’ve moved around the North East a lot from being a kid.
Tell us about your role?
I’m enjoying my role as an infrastructure technician apprentice across at ITS, while delving into SLA and project work and supporting the business with IT related issues.
How did you get to where you are today?
One hell of a journey! Honestly, the last year has been monumental for me. I’ll not go back all the way, but from being 14 I was a carer for both my dad and my grandmother. I lost my grandmother in 2016, which prompted me to leave college and look after my dad full time. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, an easy task. He’s physically disabled and cannot walk further than the living room to the bathroom in our bungalow. I work full time now and still look after him in the process!
Last year I hit a turning point – I wanted more. A career, a future. Something to challenge me! So, I reached out to Durham Works, who got me onto a RAW digital course, giving me my second Microsoft qualification – an MTA in OS fundamentals. After that, I was encouraged to seek an apprenticeship. Three interviews later I landed my role here at ITS. Every day is a new challenge, a new problem and a new opportunity to expand my skills and progress. It’s crazy to see the difference in myself from last year, in confidence and personality. I’ve grown so much, gained new qualifications and friends and I’m so much happier.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
At the age of 16, during the last year of my school life, I was running the household, doing my GCSE’s, being a carer for two people AND moving house. Despite all of this, in July 2016 I managed to come away with 11 GCSE’s A*-C and my sanity! I reckon if I’ve survived that, I can survive anything now. I had to handle medications, finances and bills, taking care of pets and my father and grandmother, as well as my younger sister who has muted autism. Honestly, I don’t have words to describe it. Six years have passed, and I wonder how I held on.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
There was no real key turning point to me, that influenced this change. I think it was more of a build-up, rather than one single thing. Years of indecision and not being satisfied kind of came to a head, when we moved into a disabled bungalow, at the bottom of a deathly quiet village. I became restless, bored and easily frustrated – with no new challenges or experiences, I longed for what I didn’t have and obsessed over what could have been.
Do you have any advice to aspiring young females?
There’s a lot I could say. Take that step. Take a leap of faith. Try something new. Never stop developing yourself.
At 16 I stood looking at my future, in a room full of boys for an engineering course. I felt intimated to the point I declined the course, in favour of something else. Don’t let that happen to you – step up, own it. Take your place!
My apprenticeship was a leap of faith – uncertainty and anxiety surrounded the entire thing. Financially, I was leaving a guaranteed income and ‘safety net’ for something new, with no fall-back plan. It worked in my favour and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
I’m surrounded by powerful women, and if I’d met them as that 16-year-old in the room full of boys, my entire path would have been different. We all need that role model, that influence, someone to relate to and be inspired by. And they are just that for me, now, and drive me to work hard every single day.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I am so unbelievably proud of you. For whom you are, for what you’ve done. You are so much stronger than you give credit for and you’re going to need that strength as you grow. As, you’re going to go through some very difficult times and be in some dark places. Hold onto your ambition and determination and never let anyone ruin that sparkle around something you love.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
This took a while to think of. I’ve got a lot of quotes that help, longer than three words. The main being from my colleague, Carole, who told me before my first apprentice exam “she believed she could, so she did.”
So, I’d shorten that, really. To just “so she did.”
Other than that, maybe “take the chance”. That hits home, as you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so take the chance.
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