"Yummy scrummy!" An Ode to Employment

Well. I didn’t think I’d be writing this one so soon. I have officially handed in my notice to end job number 6. My sixth job in 7 years. Wow, that sounds bad, doesn’t it?! But it’s not really.

So I started work when I was 16, maybe even 17, at a local leisure centre as a lifeguard. I never wanted to be a lifeguard. My Dad told me I’m good at swimming and so why not put it to use. I remember my Mum literally dragging me out of my room, as I really really didn’t want to go. Anyways. I went. I passed. And I got a job. My friends didn’t have jobs – well, apart from one who worked sometimes at her Dad’s estate agents, but other than that. It got to taking my A levels and I decided to quit, so I could concentrate on that. Even if I did get really bad grades anyways. So I think I was at my first job for eight months, if that. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I got my brother the most awesome Christmas present from working there, because I’d been through a lot that year and he helped me out a bit!

From this point, I think I should write exactly what I learned from each job.
1. Some people are DISGUSTING. On one of my first shifts at this centre, someone had actually drilled through the cubicles in the family changing room. Gross.
2. Work hard, play harder. Obviously, been a teenager, this job meant I had money to go out and get drunk with. Yay!

I didn’t work until the summer after I’d left school so I could work at the school’s sports centre (which was a ridiculous rule anyways!), again, as a lifeguard, but also as a receptionist. And I worked there all summer and whenever I came home from University. Some good people worked there, it was fun. Particularly when the camp came and rented out our equipment and we spent most of the days, throwing balls at the spoilt kids who’s parents obviously had no time for their own children over the summer holiday!

Things I’ve learned?
1. Don’t get your nipple pierced and then wear one of the yellow shirts instead of the navy ones. Not from my own experience, mind – this happened to a friend who worked there and the result wasn’t very nice…
2. Don’t go out on a staff night out, get drunk and promise to look after someone’s wallet… and THEN lose it. Own experience again. Sam was meant to be going traveling the day after as well, and he had no cards, moneys, IDs… Woops.
3. Don’t swear in front of posh little kids. True story.

I’d made an agreement with Dad that I was going to work as soon as I got to University and found a lifeguard job, again. I made some life long friends in that job and I do miss it. Apparently, it’s changed – maybe the people who still work there have also outgrown it. But I worked there for 4 years. And I think I only worked the inflatable twice. Ha! This position opened so many opportunities for me; swimming teaching, pool plant operating, First Aid at Work, keeping my lifeguard qualification up-to-date AND becoming a TA for lifeguards – I even did some bar work! I am SO grateful that my Dad made me get a job down there and happier that I chose that one over the others.

Things I learned?
1. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Particularly if your ‘enemy’ has more control over who gets what shifts.
2. Always wear BIG pants when wearing a dress on a booze cruise. My friend fell over on the slippery floor and everyone saw her under garments. Not big or clever.
3. Never get naked at house parties. Ben, Paul and I were left in the living room as every person at Sam’s housewarming got naked in the kitchen… It was a surreal night.
4. Staff training sucks, but it creates such good team building. And having a good team makes happy and good employees.
5. There are several ways of signing, “Are you going out tonight?” across 12.5metres of a pool to another lifeguard.
6. When you’re a lifeguard and wear shorts, try and find some tracksuit bottoms to wear when you have to direct people from the ice rink.

I nearly missed my shortest ever job, which was as a pot wash at my local pub. I literally took my brother’s job when he went away to university, however he was a barman, chef, waiter and pot wash. I got the butt end of the deal and ended up working for a month as a pot wash, for 20 hours a week.

1. The little people matter! POWER TO THE LITTLE PEOPLE!
2. People are going to ignore your ideas, even if it will help them ultimately make a profit. I came up with so many marketing ideas for the pub, but all were ignored. They’ve now left the pub. Such as life, eh?

After a summer of adapting to be an adult (and a month of being pot wash), I finally (after heaps of applications) found a job as an operations manager of a swimming pool. It seemed that this is what my life had been heading towards. However problems with staff leaving, working sixty hour weeks and an egoistic team of directors kind of helped me in making the decision to get out. I was so unhappy and felt unsafe because of the stupid amount of chavs that would hang about outside, smoking weed and drinking, even kicking wing mirrors off of our staff’s cars! No, no. Had to go. But kept it on as part time to make an extra £200 a month as a swimming teacher! Hooray!!

1. Structure is completely integral for a good company. A company without structure is bound to leave your operations manager exhausted, vulnerable, and crying at her family every single night.
2. I can’t work sixty hour weeks. No way, no how.
3. Never call your sibling ‘a terrorist’, else they’ll throw a plastic bottle at you and give you a fat lip. Learnt from Sammi M calling her sister a terrorist.
4. And perhaps an epiphany. I really really love teaching kids to swim.
5. Kids remember what you taught them last week and the week before that, so you can’t always blag a teaching plan.

And then, I got a good job. Completely away from everything I’d known i.e. swimming! And it kinda worked and I got okay at it and stuffs. But it felt like I wasn’t really moving forward. I was stuck behind my reception desk, answering phones, shredding (A LOT of) shredding, filing filing, scanning scanning, ordering cabs, entering expenses, stocking up stationery, ordering groceries. It just didn’t seem what I’d gone to university to do. It’s not like I’m completely unhappy. The people I met here are pretty awesome. I suppose I just thought, with my degree in Sociology and my (nearly!) Masters in business and management would’ve got me somewhere further already.

Oh no, my friends. It doesn’t.

So I suppose the decision to move on was influenced by my need to be challenged, alongside the train fares going up and looking for a local job. Maybe even my Mum influenced it, because to be somewhere closer to her (for now) would mean a lot to her.

And now, I have this wicked cool job offer that I have accepted, which combines need to be challenged alongside swimming. Client services manager does seem pretty varied. Even when they sent me a list of main points, it was a bit of operations, a bit of organising old customers and organising new ones.

Oh, I forgot the things that I learned at this job:
1. There is always something to do, even if you forget about it for a while.
2. When an administration officer, don’t expect a thanks.
3. Some people are awesome, some people are crappy. When you do something awesome for the crappy people, really don’t expect a thanks.
4. Do your research before you apply for training courses. You may be emailing the competitor.
5. You can NEVER have too many apples.


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