So you have spent the past so many years studying, sweating and most likely if you are anything like me that is, sobbing over your studies, but all your hard work has paid of and this year you have not had to trudge out in the small hours of the morning with the other beleaguered college, school and university students. It is a wonderful feeling at first; knowing that you have successfully managed to complete that final, nagging piece of coursework; you have managed to see those wonderful marks written down and then you finally wave goodbye to the building that you have spent a fair portion of your late teenage years for good…
But then you realize something,after a week or two when the euphoria of finishing college has worn off, you begin to wonder… now what?
I was initially quite excited when I knew this was to be my final year of academic study; but then as the year drew to a close; I knew that I needed a plan; big time. At the end of the day, I knew that I needed a job, ideally that used the qualification that I had lost blood, sweat and tears (not necessarily in that order over mind you). So, my summer involved me going to the job center.
For those in England, many will have encountered them, understandably they do not have a good reputation; I for one have heard many a tale from friends and family and of course the media of how they are nothing but bullies; how they make people cry; they ruin people’s lives; but how they also are complete and utter hypocrites. In my case though, I had a rather interesting experience. I had completed the form for my job seekers claim and came in for my first appointment with my advisor, and to my surprise I was offered work experience on the day for six weeks with my local job center.
I was originally surprised, as I really was unaware of the fact they did work experience placements (my previous ones have included nurseries, farms, schools and college) so needless to say when I agreed to this I knew it was going to be out of my comfort zone.
My first day as an official work experience minion included a day of being shown around the center, filling out a bomb disposal questionnaire (who knew?) And being assured that I would in fact have time for job hunting (of which I did… in the evenings when I got home, not fun let me tell you). During my placement I spent a fair amount greeting people who would come into the job center, who ranged from polite and friendly, to the seriously rude (who even when you try and explain really nicely that you are a 20 year old work experience student who has not had the decency to have had personal experience with the pension system) they still decide that you are in the enemy camp and that it is all in fact…. your fault.
All in all the experience was a very worthwhile, somewhat eye opening one. I met some really decent people and some people who were not so nice. The staff there were actually really nice; supportive to once they got to know me and vice versa; I just think though that sometimes people need to recognize that we are all human; we all have our own problems and lives and maybe just maybe a bit of understanding could go two ways and that the staff/work experience students are not always the bad guy and that at times the job-seekers (or in some cases, non job seekers who just want to sign off from life so they can go out and enjoy their lives) can be quite horrible to them and that yes, they too look forward to lunch-breaks, and like the rest of us wonder what ever happened to all their pens that they had in the building.
I personally during my placement struggled to find work; it was out of my comfort zone, especially wearing office attire as I am a t shirt and trainers kind of girl and going straight into it from college (especially as I am very shy) but I figured that I would do my best; go in with a smile, try to be pleasant and helpful and to simply be nice. I would make time in the evenings to try and complete my job searches; which led to me having applied for in the space of a few months, over 700 jobs and only getting four actual interviews.
My first ever interview was with the council being… a sales representative. On the day, I managed to work myself up into a panicky, jabbering mess… barely composed myself when I got to the location and when I went there…. I was somewhat alarmed.
My competition included university graduates; former doctors…. needless to say I felt rather out of place. I had originally gone in with a plan; I had rehearsed the usual questions in my head including “why do you want to work for us?” (I kept my actual thought of well I need the money to myself) and gave a reasonably convincing answer which took me to the second round of the interview, facing people who looked like they had stepped off the set of Dragon’s Den. I have to say, I must have lost my nerve; but I knew that at the end of the day the job wasn’t really for me.
I then had another interview as a cleaner in a local pub; the lady was really nice and again I had to come up with a convincing answer other than that I needed the money; especially as the idea of me going into a pub environment is like a vampire going on a sunbathing holiday. Even though my nerves were shredded and at one stage I was actually shaking, I managed to pull through and gain a work trial… or so I thought. Even after emailing and ringing, she never got back to me. So that wasn’t fun.
Then came the Tesco’s Interview. Most people I know will have shoppped in Tesco’s, but it’s another reality when applying to work for them. I found also that as it wasn’t my local one (had to travel for 45 minutes to get there) I was already at a disadvantage.
The interview itself was a group interview with the chosen people who were successful for beating the online system; but then I found that they had already made their minds up, when I asked them how long it would take for them to make a decision, they told me a week…. I finally got an email back two months later to tell me that I was unsuccessful.
My final interview came with a care agency, which I was really hopeful for as it made use of my college qualifications. Once again my nerves were jumbled, I managed to get off at the wrong stop, and an hour later having been successfully rained on, I found the interview location with minutes to spare… not a good first impression.
But there was one thing that worked in my favor, needing the money aside, working in care is my actual passion; and I was able to relax and use my personal experiences (of which are varied and many, in both a positive and negative sense) .
Luckily they offered me a full time job! I am at the moment going through the employment hiring process, and yes I am still signing on in the mean time as hoping to find some work experience or weekend work while I wait, but things are looking up.
The point I am trying to make is this; after education the world is still open to you; provided it is something you really want to do; there is always a way; whilst I may not have been able to go to university like I had hoped, I tried something new, met new friends and had a valuable experience; I got to see the good and bad sides of human nature; how quick we are to judge; and how it really isn’t easy out there.
Even if you have an MBA, you will still chances are have to come to the job centre and look for work; any work…. and you will need to make sacrifices. I may have lost my summer, but I have managed to find a new way to achieve my goals and got a whole new skill set.
My advise though is while you still can, make sure you have a rough idea of what sort of work you want to do; what you want in life; at least that way the road to success will have less bumps for you to get through. Make use of your surroundings, even the most difficult of circumstances can sometimes lead to the most surprising of outcomes.