From Typist to Teacher
A Former Secretary…With a New Twist!
Let’s face it. In this day and age, if you can’t use a computer, it’s hard to get by! Although the concept of technology may be easy for some, for many elderly people, it is hard to wrap their head around. Rochelle Gilbert has decided to change that one client at a time. Travelling around Jerusalem, Rochelle offers private computer lessons, mainly to elderly citizens.
After extensive experience in the secretarial field, Rochelle decided to leverage her skills and knack for technology into an entirely new career and business, upon making Aliyah.
With incredible patience, Rochelle helps people who want to learn how to FaceTime their grandchildren, or send an email to a friend. She has also worked with the disabled and partially disabled, including teaching the visually impaired to type.
I sat with Rochelle to hear more about her amazing small business…
What did you do before moving to Israel?
For forty years, I did mostly secretarial work, until I decided that I never wanted to work for someone else again!
What do you do now?
I give the elderly private lessons on how to use computer, laptops, and cell phones. Lesson topics range from how to turn on iPhone, to how to create a spreadsheet, how to take a picture, send an email or listen to music.
These lessons are mainly targeted at elderly citizens living in the Jerusalem area. Many of whom want to be in touch with family from abroad, are alone and need to take care of personal bookkeeping, or realize that computers are the only way to keep in touch with their grandchildren!
Together with a colleague I also give hands on courses at the AACI working with elderly Anglo citizens on “How to use an Android and iPhone.”
How did you find your job?
Through my secretarial work, I was able to keep up to date with the moving and changing technology, having trained in college as a shorthand typist. At Shabbat dinner in London, someone suggested I offer private computer lessons… and my new career was born!
When I made Aliyah, I delivered my business cards to various English apartment buildings and offices, and started advertising on social media. Through this and byword of mouth, my business began to take off.
What do you love most about your job?
Socializing with elderly people. They are very interesting, and have amazing life stories. I have tremendous patience, and understand their way of thinking. Concepts such as “inbox” and “mouse” are not easy for all to comprehend, and I love helping them understand.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Getting from lesson to lesson!
How important is Hebrew in your field of work?
Not at all, as I only work with English speakers.
Is there good earning potential in the private-computer lesson business?
Yes there is. The more clients, the better!
What advice would you give to somebody looking to start a small business?
Have an idea of whom your client base is going to be. Learn how to be flexible and patient. Make other contacts from your field, and know how to ask for help.
Be open to do anything to increase your income. Swallow your pride and do something different and out of the box. You never know who you will meet, or who you will be introduced to. Understand that Israel has a different standard of living; so don’t translate things back into your old currency… It doesn’t matter anymore!
How do you feel about living in Israel?
I love it- it’s like being on holiday everyday! I have two children and three grandchildren in Israel! I enjoy having many friends here who are retired and enjoying life. And, of course, bath time and bedtime with my grandchildren!