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Things I’ll Never Understand at Jobs

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Luckily for me, from February to now I’ve had two excellent job opportunities and I am currently juggling both of them happily. Of course, there is the cinema job which I enjoy a lot and now I have a job at one of my favourite cafes in Manchester! All is positive in the career department of my life currently and I know I won’t be looking for any new jobs any time soon. However, my two jobs have very different atmospheres to both of them, which I realised today when I had a shift at the cinema after a week of working at the cafe. In retail/brand name jobs I’ve noticed there’s a lot of rules and regulations; and I mean quite a lot. It also got me thinking which ones make sense and which ones are necessary.

First of all, at quite a few of my jobs I’ve been restricted from having a drink with me whilst working. Two jobs, it’s been OK for me to grab myself a coffee or tea or even a soft drink whilst doing work and of course bottles or glasses of water is OK. Despite that, in a lot of my retail jobs, it’s a very ‘staff room’ only thing. If I’m on the tills at my job, I have to go to the staff room to take a quick gulp of water. I admittedly can understand the reasoning behind other drinks; soft drinks and hot drinks can stain and hot drinks are a safety hazard as they can burn. Yet it still doesn’t make sense why sales assistants can’t bring a bottle of water on tills with them to sip from every so often. Are staff not trusted enough with a drink at work? The worst case scenario is, most likely, a staff member might spill their water, causing a puddle, which somebody could slip on; however surely most people with common sense would quickly tidy up a spill near their workplace.

In addition, why are tattoos and piercings frowned upon in work environments? Again, piercings have their limits; jewellery that could easily be caught or fall out is a hazard and definitely should not dangling around during jobs that include food. But why are tattoos a restricted thing? I remember once I did a shift at Primark, the regulations were that I had to have my hair tied back (I guess that made sense), no jewellery and no tattoos on show. Now if anybody has visited a Primark you’ll know it’s full of cheap clothes, some of which with tacky, ironic, ‘popular’ references on, for example emoji leggings. How come the company believe customers would be turned off or that they’d lose a sale because one of their employees has a sleeve of tattoos? It just makes no sense to me. Of course, like most rules, I’d understand the scenario if an employer had a massive tattoo on their arm which express rude, inappropriate ideas – but a flower tattoo? That’s not hurting anyone.

Lastly is the ideology, that I’ve mostly experienced in retail stores, why are the staff working on checkouts for 6+ hours a day not allowed to have a chair? Whenever I visit supermarkets and shops where this is allowed I think that the company seem a lot nicer to their staff. Apparently it’s because ‘sitting down seems unprofessional/lazy’, but I don’t see that at all?  Yes I know that sedentary jobs are known to maybe be unhealthy since you’re just sitting around all day but, if you’ve ever been in a retail job, you’ll know you wouldn’t be sat around. You’d be able to rest your feet and concentrate on customers whilst sat at the checkout and then when you need to take stock out to the store from the warehouse or tidy up or some other tasks, you would be standing up and moving about. It’s already been researched and proven that being stood up in the one place for hours on end can put stress on your legs and posture.

Is there anything you think work places should stop forcing on workers? Or unnecessary rules you’ve had to go through in past jobs? Do tell!

Thanks for reading,

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Bad apprenticeship experience..

The apprenticeship I started last July was probably one of my luckier opportunities in life, it let me train in a career path I was interested in and I got to meet lots of new friends who are probably going to be lifetime friends as they have changed my life for the better. I am eternally thankful for some aspects of this apprenticeship year however it’s a shame that unfortunately they have let me down with miscommunication, lack of organisation and lack of professionalism. I am not going to be naming anyone for privacy in this blog post as it is purely to talk about my experience and get it off my chest how me and others were treated.

A red flag I didn’t really catch on to at first was definitely how the group of apprenticeships that started before my group did not get a second year. When their contracts ended in March they all suddenly stopped coming back in and have not returned since then. Some did return but to do unpaid volunteer work and did not get any attention from the supervisor/studio manager I believe. Admittedly I look up to them with great respect as I was in their scenario for 3 months and I could not afford to go in and practice skills in the field for free. My monthly travel to the office is £87 alas I couldn’t. Nobody was told exactly why the ‘lot before us’ left, some rumours went around saying how they were rubbish at their jobs or the company didn’t want them on anymore. I finally found out that it was the case of the company could not fund their second year yet so that’s why they weren’t returning yet.

My group, a lovely group and I will never forget them, finished our one year contracts in July this year. For around 6 weeks before our contract finishing about 12 of us, including myself, got to participate in a disclosed project which took up a lot of our time as there was deadlines. As well as that we did have to complete college work that would grant us our year qualifications and in the last two weeks before the contract finished our studio manager gave my sub-group (this apprenticeship has three sub-groups that centered around what training we got), was given a task that apparently ‘decided who got a second year’ and was required even by people who were consumed by college work and projects. I was admittedly annoyed by the last-minute task considering we had a whole year to ensure we did the task to get second years. This task was never really brought up to our faces either, it was plonked on the company intranet and some people didn’t even see it until days nearing the deadline because of discussion of “oh have you finished the task?” “what task?!”. I did see the task early enough and tried my best to finish it, even working at home in my spare time and I remember on the last day pestering my boss what time of day it had to be finished by – to which he’d shrug and smirk “today”. Thanks boss.

So this was back in July, we all left with happy memories on that final day and excited to hear about the second year. We did get told there is no definite start date for our second year due to ‘funding issues’ but was not given any advice about going for job seekers allowance or looking for new jobs, we was just told to have patience and that we should hopefully be starting in September time. During August up until now we have all been receiving different certificates and proof of what framework we have completed. However none of us have started our second years yet. This is why I’ve finally decided to vent my feelings, why you ask? Well I’ve only just been told I won’t be having a second year.

Since end of August I have been emailing my boss for information. My first one dates back at the 26th of August asking about start dates, to which I was told “Information regarding the second year will be sent out in a weeks time”, ah I was naive. I didn’t hear the following information until 17th September. Let that time span set in.

“..when we have received all of the certificates we will send you an e-mail regarding whether or not you will be offered a place on the second year. The second year will start in October and we will be in touch with further information the first week of October at the latest”

My first feeling was stress. It was two months almost and I didn’t actually know if I was confirmed a second year or not. I had completed my college work and completed the apparent ‘task to get me on the second year’ yet I still had no idea about the future of my career with these people. Communicating with my other colleagues we found out this email was pretty much copied and pasted to everyone so we were all aware that nobody had definite second years. So it’s November when I’m writing this and there is still no second year, so you can see that email definitely didn’t work in the companies favour. The next email I sent out was on the 7th October since we had received no emails since the last one in September. “Are we hearing anything this week? Who is getting a second year?”, not only me but other colleagues were sending emails and not getting any response. Finally the next reply was dated 9th October. This is where we found out who had second year places or not. Surprise, surprise – I did not have a second year definite place. Instead this is the news I was given (along with some of my other colleagues, others got an email saying they were offered a definite place)

…Before we will be able to give you a letter of admission for the second year we would like to meet you for a short interview to discuss your previous and possible future work at (company name)..

You can guess that this stressed us out even more, all of us had completed college work and the requirements. In all honesty, that ‘task’ we were given to help our boss choose who had a second year has not been brought up since July. The week of the interview as well was when we were finally sent P45s. These are legal documents that basically tell us we are no longer employed by the company. Everyone in our group was given them so it was clear that it’d be when we go back to work, we’d sign a new contract. I wasn’t worried but what stood out to me is that the date on this legal document was dated in August, but all of us did not receive this until October. Something seems dodgy about that, right?

We all went in for our interviews, the questions were related to ‘why do you think you should have a second year?’ and ‘what have you been doing in the time off?’. At the end of the interview I was told I’d hear next week about the outcome. So, three weeks later..

We’d like to thank you for your interest in a second year at (company name) and for attending the interview a few weeks back. For the apprenticeship we have a limited amount of vacancies and after careful consideration we regret to inform you that you will not be offered a place on the second year at this stage…

…This decision has been made based on your previous work at (company name) as well as the interview you attended and we apologize for the delay in getting back to you with this information.”

This email was sent to me on the 4th November. When I found out the news I was in tears on the phone to my mum crying out “I really thought I’d get a place”, “I can’t go to University now”, “why didn’t they tell us this in August” etc., and I am still livid with the question, why did we have to wait this long to be told we weren’t wanted? A lot of my colleagues who also did interviews did not receive a place either. Were the interviews completely pointless? I felt really bad for my colleagues who had turned down University offers and job offers because of the false hope this company gave them. I had heard from word of mouth my boss knew who he wanted for a second year back in July. If this is true, I think it is utterly despicable how long he has had us all hanging like puppets just to be told we aren’t wanted. Me and other colleagues immediately responded to his email letting us know the outcomes asking for copies of our contract (because surprise, surprise – we never got given copies) and the complaints procedure and since then my boss has ignored the emails and not responded. Much like he has ignored other emails from me during this 3 month period of waiting. I feel completely let down by the company because I have lost my opportunity to start University this year. I feel lied too. I feel ignored. Most of all I worry for my colleagues who have been told they have a second year as they might end up like the first lot, waiting 8 months jobless for the false hope that they might get a second year.

At some points in my apprenticeship I was concerned of the professionalism of my boss and his lack of communication and refusal to give me appropriate feedback has definitely defined this. When you are given the career of a studio manager I think it is important that you respond and communicate with your employees however my boss has been known for ignoring emails and apparently, again from word of mouth, I have been told someone phoned in and he admitted that he was ‘too busy to answer emails so was ignoring them at the moment’. When we were in our apprenticeship during projects a lot of my colleagues told me they felt ignored by my boss. He would come into our office, walk around and look over people’s shoulders then leave again. I remember once going into my boss’s office at lunchtime because I needed help on that same task, that apparently decided if I got a second year or not, and found him playing games on Steam. Considering how many times we were told he was ‘busy with paperwork’, I wonder how many times he’s put off paperwork concerning our second year to ‘unwind’ on Steam or other games. There was also the concern of inappropriate behaviour with employees. In my group, unfortunately there was a big division of sexes. There was only about 3/4 females and 20 males. Sometimes my boss was found playing ‘chase’ games with one of the females around the office or he’d dangle his keys over their head and they would try to catch them. It was uncomfortable behaviour and definitely effected everybody’s training as other employees would be neglected whilst my boss and this employee had casual chats in his office and joked around.

I am so upset and disappointed by the final outcome of my year with this company. I had high hopes it would get me into an industry I enjoyed but I was not given the second year I was promised and can not even refer to my contract as I was never given one. I suggest anyone who is interested in going into an apprenticeship with a company that has not got a positive past or they cannot find much information about them, to talk to the company’s boss and the education provider associated with this apprenticeship.

Double check they give you a copy of your contract. Ask about past graduates. Ask about people who have graduated from their apprenticeship. What jobs have these people gone on to? Talk to their current employees, are they enjoying it? Is the manager appropriate and attentive to every employee? Do not let yourself be let down or lose opportunities with universities or better paying jobs because of a company.

In this day and age it is very easy for companies to use the apprenticeship scheme in the wrong way and this is my story and experience and I hope it helps people think. Make sure you know your employer.

Thanks for reading

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