I mentioned briefly in a previous post that I’d started college. As predicted, college had taken over leaving minimal time for me to blog. However, after having a brainwave at about 2:30am the other day, I’ve decided that I’ll be started a new segment/feature/collection of posts dedicated to college life. I’ll include my experiences and what I’ve learned during my time at college, and I’ll also share any tips and advice I have for you all.
I probably should point out too that I’m from the UK, so I’m attending a British college. The British college/education system is different from the US and other international systems. In the UK, you usually go to college after high school. At college we usually do not have to pay tuition fees and the qualifications you gain at a UK college can vary from a diploma (what American students usually get at the end of high school), to other qualifications like NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) and BTECHs. Generally speaking, students don’t get a degree at college in the UK; over hear we normally get degrees at University (the place some people choose to go after college where you do have to pay tuition fees). Basically, our university is the US’s college (you gain degrees, most likely share a dorm, pay tuition etc.). But since I’m at college (you could say its like the last few years of US high school), I’ll be sharing my experience. Plus, I think any advice given can be used in any stage of education anywhere in the world.
So I finished high school in 2015 (in the UK high school finishes at 16 years old). Initially I left school wanting to go into Business Administration (the fancy name for jobs like receptionists, PAs, and people who work in the admin department of various other businesses). Back then it seemed like the perfect career for me; I was organised, had good literacy skills, great at time keeping. So shortly after leaving high school I got a traineeship (an internship) at a recruitment company doing Business Administration. From the get go it seemed extremely overwhelming…and quite frankly boring. Not only did I have to get the bus for 90 minutes each morning and evening, but it was 9-5 sitting at a desk looking at a computer. Nevertheless I gave it my best shot. There were only three other people working there actually, two of whom were there regularly. The manager got me working straight away: answering emails, writing job advertisements, going through resumes. Only after three days I was already doing another employees work (I was a replacement so said employee could train as a ‘professional recruiter’). I think now is a good time to point out I was not being paid for this. I 100% understood that it is work experience, but to be put in a position of a paid employee, it just didn’t sit right with me.
So me being an inexperienced sixteen year old sitting in an office, I felt a bit out of my depth. I’d been there about 5/6 days total when the manager forced me onto the phones. Answering phone calls, dealing with the public. Usually office workers are trained to use the phones, how to answer, how to speak to the public. But not me. I definitely needed training. I’d made it clear that I was not confident on the phones. But the manager’s answer to that was “well, I can’t teach you confidence”. An ultimatum? Suck it up and answer the phones correctly or change your career path. So I picked up the phone when it rang, tried my hardest to sound confident and that I’d been in this job for 15+ years.
It was a Thursday, I remember that because there was an event near where I lived which caused me to miss the bus (a clear indication that this day was going to be a bad one). I got off the bus and battled my way through the crowds of people and found my manager and his girlfriend who picked me up and took me to the office. I was there about 30 minutes before he announced he had an interview to go to about an hours drive away from the office. It was just me and him in the office that day with his girlfriend working in a different building across the car park so putting two and two together I realised I was going to be alone in the office for a few hours. Before he left he instructed me to “just go on Facebook or something” for the entire time he was gone as he clearly hadn’t thought out what I was going to do in his absence, and this being the most engaging internship there was, there I sat for about 3 hours doing nothing. The phones rang a few times, nothing too major. Then it rang again. I answered and straight away the guy speaking to me was rude, abrupt and because I didn’t quite understand what he was asking, became rather impatient with me. After trying to figure out what he wanted me to do for him, he hung up, clearly annoyed with me. I panicked, alone in an office. I didn’t know if he was going to come to the office or do something. I tried calling him back – nothing. I called my manager, crying and having a panic attack.
I calmed down and the manager returned. I explained the situation and he seemed reasonably calm and did manage to reach the person who got mad at me. That conversation seemed calm and in no way heated. By this time I was confused, angry at myself and at my manager. He left me alone, a 16 year old with no experience alone in his business’s office for three hours. I was practically running his business. I’ll be the first person to admit this, I should not have been on that phone. I had no telephone skills, because the guy on the phone was getting progressively more angry at me I was reacting back, sounding confused and somewhat defensive – but in no way intentionally rude. As soon as I left that office that day, I’d already decided I would not be returning the next week.When I got home I couldn’t eat. To this day I have never felt anxiety so bad. I was nearly sick. My mum having an insane level of parental instinct knew something was wrong. I broke down, my mum was furious at the manager.
I worked on the Friday too, but after that I wasn’t coming back. I got the bus for 90 minutes that Friday. The manager got me to do some adverts, answer some emails and then said he wanted to talk to me. He said the way I reacted the previous day upset him. I said that I was not comfortable in this job, and that I’d be contacting my training provider to explain the situation and to get myself removed from this internship. He seemed a bit shocked, I explained that I was better suited in a job which wasn’t centred around customer service. He agreed, but seemed to think that if he sorted out some kind of work schedule that I’d change my mind, and he drove me down to the bus station. “See you next week” he said as I got out of the car. “I’ll see you…some when” I replied. “No, I’ll see you next week” he said again. “Bye!” I said as I shut the car door.
At that moment I was more annoyed that I’d spent 90 minutes on a bus just to be at the office for about 45 minutes. I didn’t catch the bus – I needed to vent (and I’m sure the other passengers didn’t want to hear about my life problems). I needed a walk, so I walked to my grandparents house who luckily lived relatively close (I’m lucky I made it there because I barely remembered the way). I rang my mum while walking. Unfortunately I was walking up a giant hill while doing so and it was hard for me to speak as I was so out of breath (I’m unfit but this hill was intense). I explained the situation to my grandparents when I arrived, they were also equally as angry at the manager.
I think the message behind this blog post is this; it doesn’t matter if the career you thought was perfect for you turns out to be the complete opposite. At the end of high school students are 16 and forced to decide their future. I got it wrong. A lot of other people got it wrong. Honestly, whether you finish high school at 16, 18 or if you’re in the middle college and you want to change your path, or even if you’re in a job that’s just not right for you. It’s never too late. Go back to school, go train in something else, gain experience, volunteer. It’s your career, it’s your life.
I never returned to the office, my training provider removed me straight away. I’ve never heard from/seen the employees or manager since. I had to decide what I was going to do next.
Childcare. I’d done my weeks worth high school work experience in a pre-school and absolutely loved it. So I got put into a childcare internship at the same pre-school I was at in high school. That’s where I spent 6 months. After that I applied to college and got accepted into a Childcare Diploma course (included teaching and development of children) which lasts for the next two years. A year later, in September 2016 I started college. Made friends. Gained new experiences. And the best part? It’s only 15 minutes on the bus!
Until next time,