The most important things I learned in work, that you won’t see on my CV

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!)

The view from our apartment in Scotland
The view from our apartment in Scotland
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

The beach below the hotel in Scarborough which I worked in
The beach below the hotel in Scarborough which I worked in
  1. 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.

Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium
Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium
  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

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  1. 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!

  1. 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.

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Years ago in Scottish Highlands

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.

Why you never knew Grey was the best colour.

I love the colour Grey; I find it calming, peaceful and balanced. If you ever are to visit me at home, you will realise that my décor follows a very simplistic palette. It is 70% grey, with white and black highlights.

I never set out to live my life in monochrome, but I find that I am naturally drawn to cool desaturated neutral shades compared to bright and eye-catching colours. My wardrobe follows a similar pattern. I live in black, white and grey but accent it with pops of colour with items such as my trusty camel coat and tan leather satchels.

I think this is because as I have minimised my wardrobe, I have realised that these classic neutral tones are so easy to mix and match. All black looks smart, all grey looks professional, and all white looks elegant and classic. By also wearing fewer colours, I am open to be more experimental with my hair and makeup choices, which is fun to do. However I have to admit the looks never turn out like the experts on Instagram and YouTube who can nail a plum lipstick and look classically autumnal, where as I tend to look washed out and perhaps more rebellious teenager than demure fall fashionista.

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My grey favourites to unwind

When I want to unwind, I light my candles, wrap up in my grey throws and snuggle down in my neutral bedroom to just peacefully reflect on the day. I couldn’t imagine doing that in a room full of colour and excitement. To me, grey is peace, grey is tranquil, grey is balance.

I love grey, and here’s why you should too:

Grey is a perfect neutral

Grey doesn’t age, and it is a perfect neutral for backgrounds and walls. This is why designers tend to use it often as a background or when creating classic timeless pieces.

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Grey is calm

The coolest of all colours, Grey can create an air of serenity and balance. For people who are trying to simplify their lives and live less hectically, a room filled with cool greys and fresh whites can do wonders for the mind.

Grey looks classic

If you are looking to give your wardrobe that classic edge, a tailored grey coat or silk grey shirt can add an air of luxury and timelessness to your daily outfits.

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Grey makes other colours pop

If you want to make your room, logo design or outfit look incredible, use grey as a base and use a feature colour to then make it ‘pop’. Think bright oranges, reds and mustard yellows.

An all grey room looks classic, but add a painting above the fireplace with bright featured colours, and you will have a room that looks like a vision from an interior design expert’s mind.

“Don’t define your world in black and white, because there is so much hiding amongst the greys”

What’s your favourite colour, and why? Tell me in the comments below.

Things no one tells you about owning kittens

So you have been considering taking the plunge and adopting a new furry friend into the household? Are you pining for a feline companion to keep you company in the evenings or brighten up your weekends? This I am glad to hear, as I personally love cats and am a little bit besotted with my two kittens, Arthur and Margot.

Continue reading Things no one tells you about owning kittens

Minimalism Made Easy: Ten simple ways to declutter your home.

  1. Start with the easy wins

No matter how large or small your house is, I can guarantee you have a Monica cupboard or drawer that is home to every odd item around the house that doesn’t have a fixed home.

To start simplifying your home, tackle these areas first. You will feel the instant benefit from decluttering your spaces, and will be motivated to continue on around the house.

Continue reading Minimalism Made Easy: Ten simple ways to declutter your home.

Zadar: Boutique City Break on a Budget

The medieval port of Zadar has everything you would want from a short European city break. Rich in history and relatively undiscovered by tourists compared to Croatian current hot spots such as Dubrovnik and Hvar, the marble city of Zadar is a northern gem.

There are several beaches close to the historic city centre, and plenty of sites to see including the Roman Forum, Byzantine churches and nightclubs sprawled across impressive parks hidden amongst the ancient ruins.

Continue reading Zadar: Boutique City Break on a Budget