Credit: Jo Richardson


Changing Careers: Jo Richardson

Jo Richardson previously worked for the NHS in a Research and Teaching Academy but now owns and runs Space Detectives, delivering astronomy presentations and workshops to both children and adults.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jo Richardson and I own and run the company Space Detectives. I am also one of the Space Ambassadors for the European Space Education Resource Office for the UK (ESERO-UK) and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

What does your role involve?

I teach and inspire using the context of space and space exploration. I deliver exciting workshops and presentations to a wide variety of participants, working in schools, community groups, with large national organisations and at public events.

What's your background and career path?

I spent 18 years working for the NHS in the Research and Teaching Academy at a large teaching hospital. I was responsible for inducting medical and nursing students throughout their initial posts and supporting them through placement. I also helped and assisted medical staff in research and literature reviews and articles.

What did you do to go about changing career? 

I set up my own business.

What resources, organisations, events, etc. were most useful to you?

My contacts within the "astronomy world" were of particular use. I also used the Business Hive to facilitate my business set-up, i.e. how to run a business, and the local press who were fantastic at promoting my new venture and attracting my first "education" customers.

How did you get your first job in the space sector?

In 2015, I was approached by ESERO-UK and asked if I would like a contract (based on my work with Space Detectives already) to work on the Tim Peake Primary Project.

Why did you want to move to the space sector? When did you decide to try?

I love talking and inspiring people with space and astronomy. I decided to strike out on my own and use my knowledge to do a job that I really wanted to do.

Did you feel like there was a job for you in the sector?

Yes, no doubt. Space Detectives is a hugely successful company and I am still contracted to ESERO-UK some 5 years later from the initial contact.

Were there any barriers you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

My own self-belief and confidence have sometimes been a barrier. I constantly strive to develop this and work on doing things even better!

Was the style of your job applications in the space sector different from what you were used to?

I did not apply. I just set up the business and ran with it! I took a gamble and it fortunately paid off!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Being my own boss and working with some incredible people. Opening doors and experiences that without this role I would never have realised. Inspiring others to take a look at the topic of space and astronomy.

Do you have any other advice for people wanting to make a similar change?

Just do it... Life is too short.

If you have the passion and drive, you can succeed.

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