Work Placement

So, with my course finishing at the beginning of May, my course is FINALLY going out on Work Placement. Usually the course goes out in November and January, but because of Covid, ours was pushed back to January. Then numbers spiked during that time so our teacher pushed it back again until March.

For me, this is the most important aspect of the course. Ideally I would have liked to have the work placement in November, and if I enjoyed it then I would carry on with the course. Instead I’m pretty much nearly finished the course and I still have no idea if I was actually like working in this sector.

I have my placement location which is about 15 minute drive from my house so that’s fine. Also my teacher said that all the past students that done their placement really enjoyed it, so I’m hoping I will too. I will be working in a Nursing Home helping to look after the patients there, and like all my other classmates I’m quite nervous!

The plan is to work for 3 weeks and then we can ask and see if they will take us on for another 2 weeks during Easter break. That will mean we will have 5 weeks worth of work experience. Usually the group gets 6 weeks but this year we just couldn’t fit it in, so we have to use our Easter break to try and gain more. I don’t mind though because the experience is what I need.

I have to go up on Sunday to get my Covid test done, and if that is negative then I will either start next Tuesday or Wednesday. My husband got a test done and he said it was fine but others in my class said it was awful so I’m not sure what to think about getting it done!

I’m going to really miss our wee cat Lola though. I’m here with her literally all day so I hope she doesn’t get lonely without me. We have our routine of play time and that so she won’t know what to do on her own!

Aisling

Work Experience Week 2

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After a long two weeks, my work experience is finally done! Well actually the first week was the longest ever, the second did speed up a bit which I was glad of! On Friday I finished at 3 instead of 5 because I worked two extra hours the first week. I’m back to college tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it!

I enjoyed the work experience and I actually learned a tonne, like how to answer the phone in a professional manner, how to transfer calls to other departments, how to check rates for rooms, how to book reservations, how to use the credit card machine. I really am stunned at how much I learned in two short weeks.

They offered me a part time job but I decided to turn it down. There are a few reasons for this, and I did think long and hard about it, but I just feel it was the right decision for me.

First was the wage. For the amount of things that the hotel receptionists do there they are paid horrifically. Like minimum wage bad. They have to put up with so much crap from guests and they really don’t get paid well for it. If the wage was higher and was appropriate for the work that they do then I would consider again.

Second was the hours. Because I would be the newbie I would end up working from 3pm until 11pm. And from 5pm I would be on my own until the night porter came in. I know that the Duty Managers are there but they could be in the restaurant or in an office or god knows where, and I would have to sort out drunk/ angry guests on my own. Last Friday the Duty Manager left so one of the girls who was on until 11pm had no one to help her if she had a problem!

Third I just don’t know if I would like to do the job. I really enjoyed chatting to the customers and what not but I just feel that If I did take it then I just wouldn’t enjoy it and I would dread having to go in every weekend. For me I struggle to be happy so I feel that taking the job would exacerbate this problem of mine so that’s another real reason.

I know people will be thinking that I should have taken the job so I could gain experience and what not, but to be honest I would rather sacrifice money and experience to be happy. That’s honestly how I feel. If I was happier I wouldn’t worry so much. We lived in Mexico for 9 months jobless so we got used to scrimping on money so me not having a job isn’t a drastic change. I know it could be the wrong choice but for now I just feel that it was right for me.

My husband is supportive of my decision as he knows how much I stress over things, but I know there are other people (like my Dad) who think I made the wrong decision. It annoys me that I have to frequently argue my reasons for not taking it. It’s easy for people to say ‘Oh just take it, it’ll be good work experience for you’ when they aren’t the ones who are going to work for minimum wage, until 11pm and having to be bombarded with insults and curses by guests. People should just respect my decision and leave it at that.

I’m loving college right now and I’ve been getting good grades, so I hope that when the course is done then I will have a much better chance at getting a job that I would enjoy doing. I struggled with my BA degree years ago so I just want to concentrate and apply myself 100% to the course I’m doing now so that I can gain as much out of it as possible. I want to prove to myself that If I work hard I can get the grades that I want.

I wonder how all my other classmates got on with their work experience?

Aisling

Learning How To Deal With A Complaint

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One of my modules in my course is Customer Service, so for my latest assignment I had to learn how to deal with a complaint! First the teacher told us to write down a scenario where you had to pick 3 complaints. Mine was at a shoe shop and I bought a pair of expensive waterproof shoes. The first complaint was that after a week the shoes were letting in water. The second complaint was when I went back to the shop the staff member was rude to me, and finally after I got a replacement the soles of the new shoes were coming off. So my teacher had to choose someone who would deal with my complaint from a bag. Then I had to pretend to be the customer and the other student had to try to sort out my problem.

So as usual I was quite nervous about this! We were also being recorded by audio which made it worse! So for the complaint that I had to deal with was that the customer was in my chemist and the staff members were talking and ignoring her, then when she got their attention the staff member didn’t have a clue about the products, and finally the item she asked them to put away for her couldn’t be found. So I was the manager and I had to sort out the issue for her!

Our teacher told to do it in stages: first we had to introduce ourselves to the customer and that we were the manager/supervisor. Then the customer/student had to tell us their complaints and we had to quickly jot down the 3 main points. Then I had to say the 3 items back to her. (To make sure I was correct). After this I had to explain to her how sorry I was that all that happened to her. Basically I had to sympathise with her and tell her I understand why she is so upset. I then had to thank her and appreciate that they told me. Finally I had to offer solutions. For my complaint I said that I will do more customer service training with my staff, I will show the staff member around the chemist and spend an hour explaining the products to her so she will know more about them, then finally I said I would make the staff member aware where to put the items for collection, and then I offered a 10% discount to the customer for her next item she buys.

So I had to hit all of those points to get a perfect score, and I did! I was nervous because I never really had to deal with a complaint before, and I was afraid that I would get the information wrong and all that, but thankfully I did well!

I think this was really good practise for the real thing. Now I know how to approach a complaint and how to handle it well! I also had to do a phone call where me and another partner had to make up a phone call and then we had to be recorded and tested on how we handle it. I had to answer the phone promptly, professionally and give relevant answers and information to the caller. Then I had to end it correctly. That one was much easier because we could just read our dialogue.

So for the past week I was stressing over that so now I’m glad that it’s done. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and once I started I was fine. Everybody else was nervous too but I think we all did well. Everyone was there while we were doing it so that was nerve wracking, but it’s nice to know that everyone is in the same boat and there’s no competition or anything. Everyone clapped when each person finished too.

I’ve a few more of those types of assessments but at least now I know that I can do them now. I just need more confidence in myself!

Aisling

College Life Update

 

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Tomorrow will be week 4 of my course, and I’m still enjoying it. There are a few classmates that I don’t really like too much so I don’t really involve myself with them, but apart from that the rest are fine.

My course is joined with a Cabin Crew Training Course in Waterford so I also gain a Cabin Crew qualification! It’s all about how to deal with passengers and I learn everything that I would learn if I got a cabin crew job with an airline and when they do their training.  Last week we were learning how to deal with a blind person and two classmates had to act it out. We will be getting huge manuals with loads of information for different scenarios. We have to do exams at the end so these manuals have all that information that we need.

Now that’s not saying I want to be a flight attendant! Most of the students in my class want to be one, but I haven’t really been interested. Maybe when I was younger and single I think I would have been more interested, but right now I kind of want to stop moving around. But I think it’s good that I will have a qualification and if it’s something I want to do in the future then at least the qualification will give me an edge over someone who doesn’t have one.

Also at the end of November we will have to do work experience. I think every course in the college does work experience related to what they are studying, so I say maybe this week our teacher will explain to us what we need to do. I’ll probably go to the travel agents and see what they say, or maybe try out reception based work experience. It’s mandatory that we get work experience so I’m a little worried that it might be hard to get it.

I’ve been handed plenty of work to do for assignments too which I should be doing right now, but I’ve a cold and my head is so stuffy at the moment so I really doubt I’ll get much done. The assignments aren’t hard it’s just there is a lot to put in them, so it takes so long to actually find the information I need online.

And I saw a receptionist job that I applied for 2 weeks ago and I haven’t heard anything back from them so I know I didn’t get it. It’s just hard you know. That’s why I decided to do this course; I was bored out of my head, I just wasn’t getting any jobs I applied for (even a barista job where they stated that no prior barista experience needed), so I just needed to get out of the house and do something. I’m glad I decided to do the course; it’s a recognised qualification and it’s one year long, and the best of all it was about €500! I saw the exact same course in a place in Dublin and it was about €3,500!! For the exact same course!! The college I’m doing it with isn’t private like the other one, and I think it’s involved with the government so it’s cheaper. But the thing I like about it is that the college really does want students to pass. The college tries to make all the courses cheap so that everyone can afford to apply and do them.  Also a lot of the modules have practical elements in them, they aren’t all just theory based. I feel this is also useful for me!

So I’m enjoying my time there anyway. And who knows maybe after this I might be cabin crew! Haha well we’ll see!

Aisling

Well, I wasn’t expecting that!

 

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My first week of being a student again is done and dusted…. and here are a few things I’ve noticed:

  1. Students eat rubbish! I can’t remember what I ate when I was 18, but for lunch this week, everywhere I looked I saw students with crisps, chocolate bars, curry chips, fizzy drinks. And me there eating my carrots with humous! My classmates would pull out a big packet of crisps for our 11 o’clock break, and I would be thinking ‘Oh no I really couldn’t handle eating crisps so early. They wouldn’t even fill me up anyway!’ I was surprised at how much rubbish they actually eat. In China I didn’t see my students eating rubbish because they had a huge canteen that supplied them with noodles and everything, so they were well catered for. The canteen in my college is tiny and only sells crisps, popcorn, sausage rolls and sandwich rolls. These 18 year olds can get away with eating whatever they like, whereas now I know that if I eat crisps and chocolate everyday I’ll put on weight! So they may enjoy it while they can!
  2. They aren’t as tired as students in China. In China, classes started at 8am at the college I worked for, with classes ending at 5:40pm or even 8:30pm for students having night classes. Then of course they go home and play computer games until 2am, so then they are half asleep coming to class. In my college class starts at 9am and the last class finishes at 3:30pm, so the students aren’t nearly as tired as the ones in China!
  3. They don’t use their phones as much. In China, it was a battle telling my students to put their phones away. They would listen to music in class, play games or watch basketball matches. However the students that are in my class here don’t use their phones at all! I looked around once and all of the students were just sitting there listening to the teacher. So it’s good to see that that really bad habit hasn’t caught on here!
  4. They are more into comfy clothes. Here the girls wear more baggy clothes and they don’t flaunt their bodies as much as in China. They wear tracksuits more and really just dress for the weather. If it’s cold they wear big jumpers to keep themselves warm. In China they wear more stylish outfits and they sometimes wear extremely short skirts! Even if it’s freezing they will still have a dress on!
  5. They are immature. I can’t really compare in China because I wasn’t able to have more than a basic conversation with my students, but here I realise it more because I just can’t talk to them about more mature topics like Brexit or the daily antics of Trump! Because they don’t have much life experience, they are limited in what to talk about. I really miss being able to have an adult conversation at break time, especially when one of my classmates asks me if one of the boys in our class likes her?! Haha it’s very hard to get excited when they tell me what they ate for dinner yesterday! So for me that is a problem that I didn’t anticipate. I think this has to be the most annoying thing; they don’t seem to want to know about their classmates or anything like that, whereas for me, I’m interested in hearing about peoples lives and their opinions on this and that.
  6. Teachers are late. In China we would literally have to run to class if we were going to be 10 seconds late! And letting them finish early was a definite no no! (We let them go early if we could get away with it though!) But in my college now, our teachers sometimes stroll into class 5 minutes late. Maybe it’s different in different schools both in China and Ireland, but it feels weird having to wait for the teacher to come, meanwhile in China I was pretty much always the first to class.
  7. They also like sitting at the back of the class. In China I hated when the students would sit at the back and leave the first two rows empty. One because they are just too far away, and two I really didn’t like having to shout all the way to the back! At least when they sit closer to me then I didn’t have to raise my voice. In Ireland it’s the exact same! They all run for the back seats, whereas I sit at the front now. When I was 18 I was the exact same (Keep as far away from the teacher as possible!!) but now I really don’t care. I don’t plan on using my phone and I don’t plan on causing trouble, so there’s no reason for me to sit at the back. When I was 18 I thought ‘Hehe I’ll sit at the back so the teacher won’t see me and ask me something….she won’t even know I’m here hehe’ Now I think ‘Mmm they are lazy ones, I’ll make sure to ask them plenty of questions.’

So these are a few things that I’ve noticed on my first week back. Maybe I will venture into Brexit during break to see what my classmates think about it.

I won’t be surprised if I get “I don’t really know anything about it”

Aisling