Graduating through life

On Thursday, I attended my sister’s graduation ceremony. It was a lovely day and a proud time for my sister,  her boyfriend and our family to see her efforts being paid off. It also brought back some wonderful memories of my graduation – which I depressingly realised is nearly 5 and a half years ago!

My sister did a social work degree and is lucky to have a job already within the field that she wants to progress in. But what happens to a lot of graduates? They end up working in a supermarket or have a degree that is then irrelevant to what they want to do. This is by no means a cristicism because I worked in numorous factories and shops before I realised which field I wanted to work in. But is there a pressure on young people to go and get a degree? It isn’t for everyone and there are many examples out there of huge success without the padding of a university background – and of course without the twenty odd grand debt! Young people need to take the route best for them at the time.

I am a person who likes to study. As you know, I like writing and reading. But I also like to reserach and learn new things. I couldn’t have not done a degree, I don’t think. I loved the subject of English too much  and I knew I wanted a degree in it. Some may think this is wrong because I had no idea what career or job I wanted – I just knew I wanted to study for a few years longer and hoped the rest would work itself out. Luckily it did. I don’t think I would take the risk now, though, with student fees going up so much! It is a bit of an expensive gamble to do a degree that you aren’t sure you need. Saying that though, the graduation ceremony the other day also made me feel inspired and excited by further education again. I would love to do my Masters. I always did. But that was a step too far. A step to even more expensive studying that I wasn’t sure I needed in order to get a job. Sad really, when the need for money to survive has to take over our love of studying and bettering ourselves – which is something post school kids have to contemplate. But what I also want to say is, that if people don’t particularly like studying then they shouldn’t do a degree – unless they really need that particular qualification to do a dream career. There are so many other ways into jobs.

Some people choose the ‘universiy of life’ over academic studying. I think there is a lot to be said for that too. Meeting people, travelling, doing various jobs all help to make you the person you are – along with any pieces of paper boasting your various qualifications. Again, like anything, it is down to the individual and what makes them happy and how they choose to learn and gain a happy and successful life by their terms. As you may guess, I am very proud of my degree, as I am my A levels and GCSEs and other courses I have done. But, working in shops and factories has given me as much, if not more, life experience. Uni life was great yeh and I had to learn to stand on my own two, dancing all night, tipsy feet 😉 I had to cook, sort bills out along with cementing new friendships and oh yes doing the work for my degree. But it was a nice and easy life for 3 years really – 5 and a half years into the world of work I can say that 😉 Yes, I met lots of different people from all over the country (and other countries). People from different backgrounds and who had different interests – but we all had similar goals, i.e. to finish our essay before going out to get drunk 😉

Working in shops and factories has given me a different kind of life experience though. I had to work with people of different ages, cultures and personalities. No, smoothing things over with a shot or two. Or burying myself in my room with my essays when someone annoyed me. No. I had to learn to work under and with people I didn’t like. Be a boss to people I found intimidating. Be polite and friendly to customers who were rude. Choose to join in or not with bitchy comments in the factory environment, in fear of being a ‘bitch’ myself or being a ‘goody goody’ if I didn’t. I had to stand up to bosses when they took advantage.Altogether, learning that an degree in English would not make me a better shelf stacker/worker/person than anyone else. These are all the things that truly helped me to become who I am. And I am glad I experienced it all.

Back to the graduation ceremony – it does make me laugh, that whilst it is an amazing time to celebrate your academic goals being completed, your individuality, your class of degree, your subject – you still have to wear exactly the same outfit as everyone else in the room! Me and my parents had quite a laugh looking at the sea of red and light blue cape wearers in the search for my sister:

A bit of a 'Where's Wally' situation!
A bit of a ‘Where’s Wally?’ situation!

The lecturers wore individual outfits though. They normally wear their own colours from when they graduated, which I think is always a nice touch. The immature side of me resurfaced again, though, when they entered as it just made me think of Harry Potter and the witches and wizards in their colourful outfits! But I believe humour can be brought into most situations 😉

So, congratulations to my sister and all those who have graduated recently. But we need to remember, that we are all graduating through life all the time. Going to the next stage, the next phase, gradually improving ourselves or in some cases redeeming ourselves 😉 Graduating from university is highly important and something that you will remember forever but what comes next is just as important………. 😉


Not Always Worth it…

Well tonight guys, I am off for a meal with ex-work mates. No, not at my previous school but at Woolworths. I can’t remember if I have mentioned to you that I used to work for them…. right til the end when they went bust. Ever since we have all met up a few times a year for a cavery meal and a few drinks. There may have been a gap when we first left, since we had to wait until everyone had new jobs and could afford it! The meals are actually a family affair for me, as funnily enough, my Mum and sister both worked there when it shut down. My Mum had worked there years and was the one to get me a job after Uni and sister was a Christmas temp (very temp!).

this was the actual branch I worked at… just after we closed. It is now a PoundStretcher!

Working there was interesting. Yes, interesting, that is the best choice of word. At the time, I loved it but when I look back now, I didn’t really know what it meant to have a job you loved. It was awful hours, twelve-hour shifts, evenings, weekends. A lot of physical labour too and you got a lot of crap off the customers. Don’t get me wrong there was some lovely customers too… but they aren’t the ones that you moan about over dinner and a glass of wine that evening or the ones you remember years later. I do, however, remember a certain woman from when we were working through our last days. Stock was shrinking along with out patience and dignity. Customers were vultures and just wanted a bargain.. at any cost. (Never mind the 30,000 people losing jobs!) There was one lady though who donated £20 for us. To buy some buffet food to cheer us up, as it was Christmas and we were losing our jobs. Such a lovely thought and I will never forget that.

I will also never forget the time I found a pooey nappy on my department. I used to run the clothing department. We were only a small store so kid’s clothes was all we did. It was enough. A Mum clearly had to change a kid’s nappy one day and slid the nappy under one of my shelfs. Not at item I would want to sell! disgusting! And it is the likes of this that you get when you work with the public! I had to get a plastic bag and fish it out. Yul. I was definitely not on enough money for that! Occasionally too, I mopped up wee (but I told myself it was apple juice as I did it!) and one morning when I opened up (I used to run the store on Sundays) and some of the ceiling had caved in and bits of mushy ceiling were all on the floor. Dear me. We had to open a little later that day.

There are hundreds more stories from my short 1 and a half years there. I’ll share some more with you another time. Just one more though because this is really funny. I actually though of this the other day because, at school, we were on about people and pupils in particular who tend to have intelligence OR common sense but not both. As I said, I used to be in charge on Sundays, meaning I used to be in charge of quite a lot of teenagers, who needed a job whilst at sixth form or college. One boy started as a christmas temp and I was told he was extremely clever and got straight As… iI didn’t think he would have any trouble working a till. Turns out we didn’t even get to that hurdle easily. I told him at the beginning of the shift to put a bag in his bin for rubbish. You would know what I mean right? I even gave him the roll of rubbish bags as I said this. He then put the whole roll of bags in the bin! I said ‘no, just one bag in the bin’ meaning to line it. He ripped off one bag and put that in the bin. I think I walked off at this point! No common sense… or any kind of sense at all!

I’m sure, we will relive some of these stories tonight….. hope you enjoyed the insight into life at Woolworths and realise it wasn’t always so ‘worth’ it!