This week I spent a nerve-jangling ninety minutes being interviewed for yet another part-time job to go with all the other work I’m currently doing. I’m completely unqualified for the role and no matter how much I tweaked my CV I still couldn’t prove I had the essential skills required let alone the desirable ones, so when an email appeared offering me an interview I couldn’t quite believe it.
Sods law dictated that despite it being the official start of summer, the heavens opened as I left the house ensuring that I arrived thirty minutes later looking like a drowned rat. I’d been pre-warned about the ‘computer task’ I was to undertake, however, the very second I was seated in front of a screen my mind emptied, and by the end of the allocated fifteen minutes I’d only typed about three and a half lines. Then it was the panel interview, another terrifying ordeal involving people in suits interrogating me with random questions about scenarios that may or may not happen. I was so far out of my comfort zone I was practically in orbit, however I did the best I could, so if I’m not offered the position at least I’ll know that I couldn’t have done any more and it simply wasn’t to be. At least I tried.
When you’re a member of a very grown up ‘Women’s Business Network’ you get offered opportunities to attend Learning Development courses, and today’s topic was ‘Voice and Communication’. The two very capable hosts were a voice and impact trainer in the business, government and health sectors, and a top social science professor, who’s an experienced public speaker and presenter of history documentaries for the BBC. The aim of today was ‘to develop more powerful communication skills through your voice, body language and conviction’.
We explored ideas around curiosity rather than ambition, confounding expectation, passionate involvement and thinking not about how confident we are but what we’re entitled to. Such topics could easily have been a bit dry had it not been for the extremely amusing anecdotes from the professional trainers, and the informal manner which the session took; especially when, at one point we were all standing in a circle re-acquainting ourselves with gravity while ‘huffing’! Despite these things being so far out of my comfort zone they’re practically on the horizon, I actually enjoyed the session so much I wish it had lasted longer. Hopefully they’ll run another course like this very soon, and when they do I shall make sure that my name’s first on the list!
I’m rather pleased with myself because I managed to nab a coveted spot on another free Professional Development course that my new employers run, and this time there was more in-depth training on the Health & Safety aspects of fire hazards, which goes hand-in-hand with my new role as a Fire Evacuation Steward. These are transferable skills I can use in any situation, including when I’m at home.
The highly experienced trainer pulled no punches and I have to admit his shock tactics worked. I now know that the majority of fires are caused by electrics, and that you should never use a multi-way for plugging in anything that produces heat (hair straighteners, fan heater, etc). I also learnt that it takes just two and a half minutes from the first wisp of smoke before you become unconscious, and that given the amount of electrics in bedrooms nowadays you should have a smoke detector in them, with an absolute minimum of two in each home. We were also warned that despite the romance of a candle-lit bath, fibreglass (which many baths are made from) is highly flammable and you really don’t want to find yourself sitting inside a ring of fire!
As landings, stairs and hallways are your pathway out of a burning building you should never have anything in them that would be a trip hazard in a dark / smoky environment. Also, closing all doors wherever possible is the best way to keep any potential fire at bay long enough for you to exit safely, and unless you’re a fully trained fireman, never ever attempt to put a fire out yourself or return to a burning building. The main message however was just three simple things; in the event of a fire, shout out, get out and stay out!
When your new employer offers a wide range of ‘Professional Development’ courses free to all staff, it’d be rude to turn down the opportunity to learn new skills, not to mention all the brownie points you gain (and it looks great on the CV too). That’s how I became a fully trained Fire Evacuation Steward!
I can now get everyone safely out of a building and to the nearest fire assembly point, and I know how to avoid potential bottle-necks, as well as identify and use a variety of fire exit locking systems. Hopefully, it’s one of those things I’ll never actually have to put into practice, however, should the need arise in the future I’m now confident I could rise to the challenge. Now, where are all those hunky firemen…?!
After almost a year of being single, 31st December seems a good time to reflect on the past twelve months and see just how much I’ve achieved. While a relationship break up right at the start of 2014 and being part of a horrific police investigation in June (long story) must rate as the lows, I can honestly say that the highs have been more than I could’ve ever hoped for.
On the work front I had a pay rise, was given extra hours and more responsibilities which has not only boosted my income but also my self esteem. Regarding my health, I lost weight and got fitter, and on a personal level becoming closer to my children has obviously been the icing on the cake. I’ve also met some lovely new people, learnt different skills, featured in a local newspaper, attended several large events and even enjoyed a fabulous winter holiday in the sunshine.
Now I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months have in store for me.
Happy New Year!