Life update! New…job?! + my previous jobs and tips!

24 Apr

(Warning, this post is a bit different, and also, at times, vague. I am only doing that because I have to (I wish I didn’t), it’s part of a contract!)

Hello lovelies!

Long time, no speak. I’m sorry I’ve been so absent in the blogging world, but I actually have a legitimate reason this time….I got a job!
I started looking for a job as soon as I got to uni, I went on countless CV runs around the local town, applied for probably close to 50 jobs online, and only received a few replies and interviews. A couple of weeks ago, just after I went home for the Easter break, I got an e-mail from a local place, inviting me to attend an assessment in a week’s time. I was really excited, but of course, I’d already come home! After managing to convince my mother (thanks Mum) to drive me nearly two hours to the assessment, I planned my trip.

The centre was TERRIFYING. I applied for two jobs, and got interviews for both. When I turned up, there were about 10-15 people already waiting, all with name stickers on. I grabbed my name sticker, and more and more people started turning up. I didn’t know that they were hiring multiple people at this point… When it got to about 40 people, I realised that it must be for a few jobs, not just one (FYI, I think 4 people from my assessment got jobs. Out of 40.) We were ushered into a room, and with a lot of people comes a very detached interview experience. We were given a talk by a very animated, nice lady, who said that anything we said wouldn’t count, but there were people standing about with clipboards, so I wasn’t too sure, and stayed alert and asked questions anyway. Can’t hurt, right? Then we were taken in small groups to a room where we sat around tables, dealt with a few prospective situations and were watched over by a couple of assessors. This definitely did count. There were around 5 tables, and there were 8 or 9 on my table. After this, we were taken to the room we started off in after giving our details, and we all sat down, unsure of what we would be doing next. I was called into an interview after about 15 minutes of sitting waiting with the others. As far as I could tell, there were four interviewers, who all took people to separate places.

My 1 to 1 interview was a weird experience. Having had three job interviews before, I thought I might be prepared for this bit…but not so much. The guy looked SUPER-tired. He had a sheet with some general questions, then more specific questions, and space for my  details and whether I’d passed or failed the interview and the assessment. He made no eye contact with me the entire time. I was sure I’d failed. At the end of the interview, he looked up, smiled at me, and said ‘Very good interview. The last two were…not so good. I couldn’t pass them. With you, I can.’

16 years old

My first job was in a clothes shop, and the job-acquiring process was short and sweet. I applied when I was 16 (August 2011) on a Saturday after walking into the store, asking whether I could speak to the manager (a pretty ballsy thing to do in retrospect) and asking whether there were any positions free. She said yes, there was one for a Sunday girl. I was a school student at that point, so it sounded perfect. I filled in the application that day, the Saturday, went back into the shop before closing to hand it in, and was called and asked whether I wanted to attend an interview the next Wednesday. I attended the interview which was the next weekend, and found out on the Tuesday after that I had the job. The interviewer was professional, young, and obviously inexperienced at interviewing…but so was I, so I didn’t think much of that. I do remember babbling a lot though, she probably thought I was a right idiot! I’d never had a job before, and I was probably incredibly lucky to get that job. I had one reference from work experience and one from my head teacher. I worked at that clothes shop in my last year of sixth form, for four hours every Sunday, until I was made redundant by the company (due to the company going into administration) nearly a year later, in early July 2012.
A couple of points to make about this job…
1. Interviews are scary, but the people interviewing don’t want to catch you out. They really do need someone to fill the position! I went up against a couple of other girls, and my manager told me that what set me apart were my references, my time-keeping and my attitude. A smile and a ‘thankyou’ go a long way, especially if you’re inexperienced.
2. Once I started working, I loved it. The problem was, there were no extra hours at the company I worked for. They were overstaffed, and the staff were probably underpaid, and so everyone wanted the overtime. That was what I found the most frustrating, not having the opportunity to move up or even work more. Some people just work for the cash, others for the love of the job, and others get addicted to the routine. I think I got all three. Unfortunately, I was paid a measly £4.20-ish an hour and I had school a lot of the time. Just be aware of what you’re walking into. Just because you get the job, it doesn’t mean you’re right for it.
3. Shop work is BOOORRRRRIIINNNGGG. So so boring. Unless you have loads of customers, it’s usually a very tedious day. I didn’t mind, because I was grateful, eager to impress and inexperienced. I also didn’t know what I was missing. I had a friend who started working at 15 in a pub, who constantly was talking about how tired she was and how difficult it was sometimes. I (foolishly) didn’t believe her. I now know that what she was doing was more than any 15 year old should ever have to do! Can you believe that she would go into work, clean, bartend, cook and waitress…all in the same day? The same hour even? Well sometimes I longed for a bit of excitement, and I didn’t get positive (or negative) feedback either. Perhaps shop work isn’t my thing (and the company did go into administration after my first 4 months, so they probably had bigger things to worry about), but I worked efficiently, and loved my customer interaction. That was the best bit.

17 years old.

When I was made redundant (something that nobody, especially parents or long-time employees should have to go through), it knocked my confidence. I was a seventeen year old girl, who had just finished her A-Levels, had no money to spare and an empty summer ahead of her, plus university! I genuinely had no idea what to do! All I knew was that I needed money and wanted something to do. I updated my CV and carried them around in my bag. The day after I was made redundant, my parents took me to dinner to make me feel a bit better. We went to our local ‘nice’ pub-restaurant. My mum encouraged me to hand a CV in, and I did, not thinking much of it. A week later, I got a call from the manager of the pub, asking me to an interview. Now when I say interview, I mean chat. This was set up like a chat, and basically was a chat, but the personality/demeanour of the manager was more like I was being interviewed for something that was gonna pay a LOT more. She told me she’d get back to me after literally, a 5 minute interview where she asked me four things. Had I ever waitressed before, had I ever worked in a bar before, what was my previous experience, and was I over 18. To three of these questions, my answer was no. I didn’t have much hope. A few days later, I got the call asking me to come in for a trial shift at the pub. I guess they were desperate. I got the job, managed to scrape through the trial shift (mid July, hot pub, hot food, no windows opened) and was offered work on Saturdays and Sundays. I jumped at it. The pay was £5 an hour, and I was working more hours. I made enough money to put petrol in my car, go out with my friends and buy some work clothes and a few bits and bobs of make-up, but definitely not enough to save. I left this job in September to go to Uni after a few months, and wanted to work in the holidays when I came back. I called three times to say I was back and did they need any help, and all three times I was (politely) told no.
A few points to make about this job…
1. You will never leave a pub or restaurant as a waitress or bar staff without smelling like food. Never. Accept it.
2. The place I worked had friendly staff, great food, and was incredibly well priced. Therefore, it was ALWAYS busy. I would often stay late, and throughout serving time, I worked VERY hard. The waitresses were on their feet all day, we were not given breaks unless we were working over 6 hours, and we would often work alone. I worked one Sunday with just one other girl (the busiest day in the UK for pub food because of the classic Sunday roast) and never wanted to work it again it was so busy. With 21 tables all filled, it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.
3. When I first started, I found it incredibly difficult to fit in. The waitresses were ALL fantastic, and had all been there for a while, so they knew all the regulars and were great at doing things quickly. I am a bit clumsy, I can’t carry more than one plate in each hand and I am terrible with recognising people. It can all be a bit overwhelming when you start a new job, but I know now that it wasn’t actually me. It was that we were all too different. All of the waitresses had their jobs as full-time things. They were mostly mums or young people who’d finished their education, and mine was just getting started. We didn’t like the same things. That was okay though, because the job was so fast-paced. To this day, it’s the hardest thing I’ve done.

In addition to these two successful interviews, I also had a very unsuccessful one. It’s definitely not all win-win! In the gap between losing my first job, and starting my second, I had a job interview at a smaller than Tesco/Sainsbury’s/Asda type supermarket. There aren’t a lot of those. It’s the one beginning with an A. I was told to come to my local store and that I would participate in a group interview. I thought I was applying for an store assistant role. It turned out that I had accidentally applied for an assistant manager role. I do not know HOW I managed to snag an interview. I was by far the youngest person in the room. When we all introduced ourselves, the next youngest person was 32.I was 17 at the time. I was mortified, not at myself, but at the company, because there was no way I was going to be able to beat ‘Tom’s 20 years of retail experience or Barry’s management roles’. It turned out that I was, in fact, the most ‘qualified’ person in the room. I have 13 GCSE’s and 5 A-Levels. That is, apparently, why I was invited to an interview. I genuinely think that they must have misread my age, or invited me by accident. I got through that group interview with my pride intact, I had kept up with the rest of the group when the two rather dishy managers had asked questions about company operations and past history, and knew my stuff when it came to that store. However, the minute I walked to the door, and one interviewer asked me my age for the second time, I knew that this job was NOT mine. Everyone was sent home and informed that they would get an e-mail informing them whether we’d moved on to the final interviews, and feedback if we had not. I went to my car and cried. I was SO mortified. They had all been staring at me, judging me on my lack of experience, and even though I’d put on a brave face, it was still a bit of a knock to my confidence, again. I got an e-mail a few days later saying my interview had not been successful. There was no feedback as to why, but it did say I had beaten over 200 applicants just to get to the group interview stage and that my qualifications were why I had been selected. Woah. Yes, definitely not fun. It’s much more difficult in a group-setting to distinguish yourself from others, especially if you use the tactics that a 1 on 1 interview would need. The group interview for that position was ruthless. It was kill or be killed. And when you’re a very small fish in a very big pond, it’s very easy to lose.

18 years old. 

So now we come to this job. The job I have now is nothing like my last two, involves more customer interaction, busier days, working outdoors…all things I’ve never done before. The hours are flexible, the benefits of working there great. It’s close to Uni (although I did get lost on the way there this week), and the atmosphere is great. I’ve been quite a few months without work now, and I’m kind of just itching to get back into the swing of things. I’ve worked three days this week, all training centred, but I’m still super-pumped for this experience.

I’m gonna put a couple of my expectations here, and who knows? Maybe I’ll read this post in six months and laugh at how stupid they were, smile at how naive I was, but I might be surprised with how little I expected.

1. I’d like more money. This is already a given though, considering I can pretty much work whenever I’m free and the pay rate is £6.30-ish! Wahoo!
2. I’d like a couple of work friends. I really feel like I’m missing out, and this place is really team-centred. Hopefully I’ll find people who I fit in with.
3. I’d like to have fun on the job.
4. I’d like feedback on my progress and praise, but also help if I do things wrong. I hope I don’t do things wrong.
5. I’d like a bit of a tan by the end of the summer. Pleeeeaaseee?

Oh wow! You know, I didn’t even plan on writing this post today! How weird! And I certainly didn’t think it would turn into a long one. If you’re reading this starting off in the job-pool, then I hope this helps and good luck, and if you’re reading this as a manager, then this might also help you! Who knows!

Just know that if you don’t get the job, that’s okay, there will always be another one.

Thankyou if you got to the end of this post! Please, please leave me a comment telling me about your job interviews and job experiences. I would really, honestly LOVE to know. I find that sort of thing fascinating. Hope you all have wonderful days/nights 🙂
Christie xoxo


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