When I left university I had to make a choice about what I now wanted to do for a living. At first there seemed to be two options, a graduate job or a year out travelling. However I didn’t take the ‘straight into the corporate world’ graduate career route, but I also didn’t pack my bags and go adventuring around the world…in a sense.
I instead took route number three,and packed two suitcases and plunged straight into the real world by moving up to the Highlands with my boyfriend to work in a remote Scottish hotel. This wasn’t something that I ever had initially planned to do, and I actually saw the job, applied and moved to Scotland in the space of three weeks, so it was kind of a spontaneous last minute decision!
However looking back I wouldn’t have done it any differently. I think I am fortunate in that I have learnt so much from the different roles I have undertaken in the last three to four years. Below, are the top things I have learnt from the different jobs I have had (many of them are not things you will see on my CV!)
- How to make the BEST lentil soup.
When I worked in Scotland, the kitchen would cook three meals a day for us as we lived in an apartment contained within the hotel we worked in. As we worked so closely with the chefs and saw them on a daily basis, I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could from them about cooking and baking. I would observe, learn and taste all their great culinary creations, and after a few weeks they started to let me make some of the desserts and soups.
One of my favourite memories was learning to make the BEST lentil soup I had ever tasted. By getting stuck in and watching them cook, I learnt more in six months that I would have done pouring over cookbooks in the kitchen for years. Whenever I am feeling nostalgic, I just whip up a pan of the soup and it makes me feel great.
Thanks to them I also learnt how to master Crème Brule’s, Shortbread, how best to cook Venison, and how to make home made whisky ice cream.
Not the most transferable skill that you will see on my CV, but something I really value and I am so glad I had the opportunity to do it.
- How you really do work better if you love what you do.
I have always been interested in digital and content marketing, however it is only really in the last three years that I have worked purely in this area. I am lucky that my role is so centralised around something that I find so exciting and motivates me to work hard each day.
One of the key things that I have read about simplifying your life since I began to live more minimally, is that you need to work in a role that you love and makes you happy. I would encourage everyone to try and do the same, and life is too short to do something that makes you miserable.
- Always be nice to people in customer facing roles.
I have worked in several customer facing roles over the last four years. I have poured many a pint as a bartender, served everyone from locals to Scottish Lairds as a fine-dining waitress and checked in a variety of guest as a hotel receptionist.
I therefore know from first-hand experience how important it is to be nice to the people who are trying to make your meal, holiday or day out go smoothly. Often, if your food is served slowly, your room isn’t what you were expecting or your wine tastes a little funny you let the person serving you know immediately. One thing to bear in mind though is that they probably aren’t to blame for the issue and if you explain the issue nice and calmly, they will go that extra mile to make sure it is put right for you.
Don’t be that person yelling at the waiter for your bland food, and always leave a tip because y’now, it’s polite. I will never forget the time a table of ten left me a 2p tip for a £600 fine-dining meal. Pretty sure my service wasn’t that bad.
- Teachers are heroes.
When I lived in Belgium, I taught a seven year old girl English each week. After a month or so, her friend also came along so my little class grew to a team of two.
Each week, I would spend around two hours making games, activities and materials for an hour long lesson. This meant that although I got paid really well for the hour, I would actually put in around three hours work for each class.
Also, it is hard to control and keep the attention of one or two hyper students, never mind a full class of 30. Yes there was a small language barrier, but still, if they didn’t want to focus for a day, it could make teaching them anything a massive hurdle.
I loved teaching the girls and learnt a lot from it, and hopefully they did too. However the main thing I learnt from this experience was that teachers are patient heroes.
- Good co-workers are indispensable.
I have been incredibly fortunate to work with some amazing people over the years, and each time I move roles I often feel really sad to not be seeing certain people on a daily basis anymore.
I have had inspiring managers, such as Ed who taught me to be far more confident and multi-task like a pro. He gave me a parker pen to take with me when I left my job working for him saying his first manager did the same for him. I still use it on a daily basis in my job now.
Working well with people is expected in most roles, and I think that if you are lucky to be part of a good team you naturally thrive at teamwork. I wish I could list all of the people I have been lucky to work with but it would probably be longer than this post, however if it’s you, you know who you are!
- How to get stains out of anything, and make a bed to hotel standards.
When I lived in the Scottish hotel, I worked in several different roles during the week. Often I would support the housekeeping teams to clean and spruce up the rooms ready for new arrivals.
By doing this, I learnt some great skills from the experts who had been doing it for twenty plus years. I can now pretty much get any stain out of anything using products from around the house (thanks to the many guests who painted the cream carpets with spilled red wine) and make a bed like a pro.
Sounds trivial, but you don’t know how often this actually comes in use!
- Not to be afraid to move for roles and new experiences.
I have been fortunate to have lived in so many places over the last four years. Nottingham, Scotland, Belgium, by the sea in Scarborough and old historic York.
Although living in so many different areas has had it’s down sides (moving away from good friends, having to pack and unpack countless times and finding your favourite restaurant just before it’s time to move again) it has far more benefits.
I have gained so many skills, life experiences and friends by taking chances and opportunities in new and exciting places. By being open to moving around, I have done things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had just stayed in my hometown.
If I had to give one piece of advice to younger me it would be to be brave and travel far and wide. Each new move has really enriched my life and memories!
- Helping others is something we should all prioritise.
Working for a large independent healthcare provider was one of the best career moves I ever made. Within my team, I worked alongside a lady living with a learning disability who was a part-time marketing assistant, and this person taught me more in my role than any other colleague I have had the good fortune to work with.
She taught me to be patient, driven and to always go after your dreams. She was just one of the 7% of people with a learning disability in paid employment across the UK, and this made me determined to try and help to increase this number, as 63% of people living with an LD actually want a job.
The colleagues that I met there, who went that extra mile to listen, make a difference and provide great care and support all inspired me. I learnt an awful lot from them all.
What have you learnt from your careers and different roles? It is always good to reflect on the opportunities and experiences that you have had over the last few years. Let me know in the comments below.