Well I must apologise for neglecting this blog. Unfortunately exams and engaging the full capacity of my short term memory took over my life for a short while. But now I’m back. Don’t worry.
I recently read a piece by a sixth-form leaver who embarked on a project to do some work experience with 60 unique professionals over 60 days. The aims were sound – to experience a wide range on professions before deciding where to specialise. The reasoning was not:
‘With my school days coming to a close I began to think about the summer between high school and university. This can be an awkward time as many students are not qualified for the jobs that are available and most are only able to get work at camps, shops or as entry-level office staff.’
My answer to this: ‘So what?’
Never underestimate the value of retail, or camp or even bar work. Entry-level office work is the coveted gold standard of part-time work for many future professionals. These jobs teach you the basics. Many people enter professions with no idea as to how to deal with people, or how to deal with money, or how to treat and respect the staff upon who – although a tier below you – you shall be relying so much. So here’s how you can get these ‘lowly’ jobs on your CV and get the edge over the competition who consider these roles below them:
Customer Service – Believe it or not, professionals shop too. It turns out they eat, wash and play just like the rest of us. If you’re planning on getting a job in the same area you currently work, and if you’re offering fantastic customer service, you’re going to be remembered. Your future employer could be that person you just informed of that cheaper meal deal available with their sandwich. Saying that, they could also be the person you spat filthy words at when they rudely interrupted your conversation about that ever so attractive individual your colleague had the privilege to serve. Nevertheless, if you have been recognised at work, be it by a customer or your employer, this is to be valued. Professionalism is about delivering a service and keeping customers coming back. Graduate recruiters like this.
Managerial Skills – The exciting thing about retail is that it offers so many more opportunities for leadership and management than many other jobs available to students at this stage. Pierre from Oxbridge has never had responsibility in his life. You, on the other hand, have delegated tasks to effectively achieve those seemingly unrealistic targets set by the higher managerial tiers in your company. You get yourself stuck in when the going gets tough and you are respected for your achievements by those within your workplace. Get it down on your CV (modestly). Tell them in interview (modestly).
People – You get them. You’ve had the opportunity to speak to people and tactfully deal with their problems. You can empathise, engage in conversation about the things real people want to talk about (Britain’s Got Talent, sport, alcohol etc.) and you know which jokes go down better with your close friends, and which ones are safer for your reputation. Pierre doesn’t. Pierre just smokes pipes.
Difficult People – This one is especially applicable to those who have taken part in bar work. Difficult people can be awkward. Drunken people can be intimidating. Having to deal with such people, and dealing with them successfully, is a massively positive reflection of an individual’s character. Having such nerve is impressive and is reflected in everything you do. Be proud of it.
Dealing with Kids – So you get people. You can deal with difficult people and you can stand your ground with drunken people. But this still doesn’t mean you can deal with kids. These are in a league of their own and having the capabilities can open up niche areas of work unavailable to those lacking in such experience. It connotes professionalism, backbone and patience. What sort of recruiter doesn’t want to see that?
Entry-level Office Work – HUGELY important. The office is an environment. It carries its own rules and practices, its own hierarchy and its own skill requirements for survival. Whether you drink it or not, you need to learn how to make a cup of tea. God forbid if you can’t make a half decent cup of coffee! Those photocopying machines require practice and experience. There is a seriously concerning possibility you will fall short of your employer’s expectations if you can’t use one. If you still get really excited when you get to use the shredder, you haven’t used one enough. Try and get some experience through work schemes or part-time office work.
There are plenty more to pick out, but its lunch time. Be proud of the work you have done in the past. The transferrable skills are phenomenally important both for the workplace and for character. Never underestimate the value of entry-level jobs. Your employer won’t.
For more information on 60 Jobs in 60 Days: