The beginning of most gap years start with a job to earn some money for travelling, and mine was no different. I had already applied to a job before results day at an events staffing company (a bit of an indicator towards my confidence in my grades…), and got it. I was put on a system which worked like an agency for hospitality workers – waiting, bar staff, hosts, that kind of thing, and I landed myself a month-long stint working as a ‘hospitality assistant’ at a very fancy firm, which dealt with money in some way (I heard private equity a lot and that’s about all I know). Basically, I had to refresh the tea and coffee in all of the meeting rooms (about 20 spread across 10 floors in two buildings – rip my poor feet).
This was my first ever proper job – I had earned money from pet-sitting and running a stall at school fairs, but this was my first you’re-on-the-payroll-and-have-to-work-8-hours-a-day job – scary stuff. I loved the atmosphere of working at this firm – there was a great sense of camaraderie between our team and the mail room guys, cleaners, and secretaries. However, running around all day trying to make sure that each room was set up for the hundreds of meetings that went on everyday was exhausting, and I didn’t have much passion for what I was doing. So, looking for a change of scene, I applied for about five different jobs on the Fortnum and Mason website (a very fancy department store in central London), and got a call back for a couple of them. The first: ‘corporate sales advisor’. I didn’t know what this would entail or what it really meant, but I went along to the assessment day along with about 20 other gap year students and got the job, so that was that.
After a week of intense training to teach us all how to use the outdated ordering system, we were stuffed in an office and began two months of selling and placing big orders for F&M’s corporate and high profile clients. It was an interesting insight into the corporate world, and I made some lovely friends, but I have to say that the office life is not for me – which is a good thing, I guess, considering I won’t be leading one. A lot of my time was either waiting for hours for any replies to my insistent emails, or, as it got closer to Christmas, dealing with angry customers on the other end of the phone and staying hours late to make sure all my orders got done. My short attention span and spending 8 hours at a desk did not mix well, however, it was a great experience and I did deal with some lovely people who I will be sad not to speak to again.
I’ve now got a three week job lambing on a farm in Northamptonshire, which I can’t wait to start. Switching the commute on the Victoria line for quad biking through fields and 9-6 at a desk for chasing lambs sounds pretty perfect, right now, and hopefully I learn a lot, too.