Tag Archives: Journal

finally, he’s here

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It’s been stressful getting to this point but I am so relieved he is finally here. There have been nightmares and moments of panic that I am making the wrong decision but I suppose only time will tell. I wish I had taken some pictures of him before getting into the wagon and on the wagon but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

He was a bit of a swine to load to begin with but he went on on his third attempt. The journey was completely uneventful, he was a dream passenger and all my worrying was for nothing! George got to his new home safe and sound around 3pm on Wednesday the 28th of September.

This weekend I have been down to see him twice; unfortunately during our time apart he has lost his stable manners and the alpacas are proving to be a somewhat scary beasty for him. But with time and some TLC he’ll be back to his normal self!

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what makes us Shiver?

I’m not talking about our bodies reaction to being cold. I’m talking about our emotional response to stimuli. Like the tremor we get when we hear a good piece of music or the goose bumps we get when we watch a particularly moving scene in a film.

For me I always get that feeling when I watch Finding Nemo not only the opening music but one particular scene always gets me; when Nigel is telling Nemo and the rest of the tank fish about Marlin’s journey across the ocean to find his son. Emotion seems to catch in my chest and make it feel heavy yet at the same time elated.

 

More recently I experienced a different kind of shiver. Over the British bank holiday weekend I travelled to Nice in the South of France. Walking along the promenade I saw it. The memorial for those killed in the Bastille Day Massacre. It wasn’t just seeing the candles and the flowers it was the teddy bears that had been put out to mourn the children who had also suffered a terrible fate that night.

Actually standing in the exact spot where something so horrific happened was harrowing. It’s hard to find any words to describe the feeling of being there. My heart goes out to those who were there that night and to those who lost relatives and friends.

I couldn’t take pictures of the scene, for me it just didn’t feel appropriate.

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I had the same feeling when visiting Ground Zero in Manhattan. The silence that filed
the area nothing can describe it. Of this I did capture a few images; around the infinity pools the names of those that lost their lives were engraved. In some of these names a single white rose would reside.

I just remember the shiver that overcame me when the magnitude of these two atrocities hit me. The tears I shed for people I’ll never know. It’s hard to comprehend.

Fiery by Nature, or am I?

Growing up my dad always told me that as a ginger I was fiery by nature; this entails not only being a passionate person but being fierce and quick to temper. And I have recognised this as part of my personality all my life. When I choose to do something I give it my all; why bother doing something otherwise? I have also noticed the other side of my fiery nature; on occasion I can have a wicked tongue and I say things I inevitably regret.

However, the other week I had an encounter on my way home from work that tested by beliefs about myself. I got on my usual bus home,sat down and took out my phone. Like every other passenger I was minding my own business; checking through emails, surfing Facebook and looking to see if any interesting job listings had been posted that day.

As the bus began to pull off there was some commotion to my left. I stopped to observe a man hounding and poking another man, shouting in his face about what I do not know. My first assumption was the pair must have known each other. But as the antagonist of this situation turned and started to verbally abuse another passenger, once again leaning over so his face would meet hers, I realised this man was just looking for anyone to abuse. This time I did hear what was pouring out of his mouth. The victim on this occasion happened to be an older woman of the Asia/Pacific region, she was happily chatting to a younger lady and their conversation was not impacting anyone on the bus. However, this man thought otherwise and he started to racially abuse this woman, telling her ‘how dare she be up in his country speaking her own language’. The woman paid no attention to him and he lost interest, but she didn’t continue her conversation.

The next person to get this man’s attention was me. I thought great, I’ll give him a piece of my mind, how dare he stand and shout racial abuse at an old lady. But as he opened his mouth and started bullying me in a way I had not experienced since school I froze. No quick witted, volatile responses came to me. And his abuse just kept coming, this man that I had never met and didn’t know me from Adam was hurling abuse at me in front everyone on this crowded bus and I was shrivelling away.

I ended up putting my headphones in and ignoring him but I could feel this rush of emotion coming and it took everything in me to stop myself from crying.

Eventually he lost his interest with me and he moved on. When we got to the next stop the driver shut the engine off but he didn’t move. The man kept toying with the idea of getting off but clearly he couldn’t resist bullying a few more people before his departure. A girl intervened. She started to scream at him and she continued to berate him until he got off the bus. Why couldn’t I do that? Where was my confidence to stand up for myself?

When I got in that evening I cried; my fiery nature had failed me.

a Thought

I wrote the below in June while sat down watching 12 Years a Slave and reflecting on the instances of police brutality that have been filling the news and my Facebook feed.I’m still not sure about sharing this publicly but maybe these things need to be said?

I am always saddened by the apparent and excessive cruelty of our being. To know that by our collective hand there has been such harm caused and I am at a loss to reconcile it with myself that we could ever be better.

What cruelty will we bestow upon this world, on our fellow men for decades, centuries or millenniums to come? By nature we put other beings beneath ourselves. We murder animals for our needs regardless of theirs. We have forced men, women and children to serve us with no rights, no dignity and no liberty. We have read from scripture and other sources to confirm our conviction. But what gives us this resolute belief that we are above any other creature, any other man, woman or child?

It is this question that I could not shake while watching the events Solomon Northup painstakingly wrote of his experience of being kidnapped and sold into slavery. That any other man could be less than another purely based upon the colour of his skin. Did these people ask for their ancestors to be ripped from their homeland? The white people of many nations treated these people as though they were unworthy to live in their country but they brought them their in the first place. Uneducated, poorly treated and without prospect; how could man do this to his fellow man? To not see they are the same as him; not inferior, not a lesser being, no different on the inside than they themselves.

I would pray for a better world but I’m not sure there is anyone up there to answer, let alone change the world.

A good piece to read is Know your history: Understanding racism in the US  written by A’Lelia Bundles for Al Jazeera. This piece was written in August 2015 and I must have read it several times since.

a personal update

So far I have updated this page with my job history for the past two years but I haven’t shared anything about my life around work.

I’m going to start with the more upsetting news. My best friend passed away. My dear dog Izzy had developed a lump on her leg and having taken her to the vet we found she had cancer. We were told she would need her leg amputating as the tumour had eroded too much of the bone. Izzy also had secondary tumours in her lungs meaning she’d need regular chemotherapy. Sitting down as a family to discuss what was best for Izzy we knew the choice we had to make. She was always fearful of the vets and being a heavy boisterous dog her quality of life would deteriorate exponentially. We brought her home, fed her all the things a dog shouldn’t eat and treated her like a queen (not that we didn’t already). We arranged for the vet to come to our home on the Friday morning and it was the worst week of my life.

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I told myself Izzy would leave this world the way she came into mine. On the Friday morning I got Izzy settled on my lap (all 7 and a bit stone of her) and we waited for the vet to arrive. I scratched behind her ears, told her how much I loved her and held her as the vet administered the barbiturate. Seconds later Izzy had left this life and with it my heart was broken.

The family home just never felt the same after that day. Getting up every morning expecting her to be there, coming home from work and calling her name, I just couldn’t be there. A lot of other things were happening at this time and this was the catalyst for change. I eventually moved out. It isn’t what I had planned, I was hoping to stay in the family home for as long as I could so that I could save a decent amount of money to get myself standing truly on my own two feet. This is still yet to happen.

Having gotten myself settled in my new apartment I organised a trip with my boyfriend. We had decided to drive to the Nürburgring in my car, a 2.4 turbo diesel Brera. On the way we stopped in Ghent and Antwerp. From there we arrived at the Nürburgring and we celebrated my 22nd birthday. After spending two nights in drivers heaven we travelled to Arnhem and visited the War Museum, the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery and the Burgers Zoo (http://www.burgerszoo.com). From Arnhem we traveled to Rotterdam and then onto Bruges.

Europe drive

Soon after getting back from our trip Ben moved in with me. After spending our first Christmas together, surviving our first trip together (which included over 23 hours of being in a confined space) and his support after the loss of Izzy we decided to get a cat together. In the February of 2015 Ben and I brought home our gorgeous little kitten, Kevin.

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We hadn’t been living in Sandbach for long when Ben got a new job in Peterborough. He lived down there during the week at first only coming home of a weekend. This situation was not sustainable. I took the plunge, found a job in the same area and we moved into our new home in Ringstead the week before my 23rd birthday. Our house was beautiful, it was peaceful but with Ben working nights I inevitably became lonely. After 5 months we had concluded we weren’t going to settle in the East Midlands. After lengthy discussions we compromised on moving to Cardiff.

We moved in the March of this year and having settled down, turning our little apartment into a home, I felt myself returning to normal. I am no longer spending days at a time feeling numb not knowing what I need and I found myself thinking about what I was doing with my life; I had spent 2 years carving out a career in IT/Telecoms that my heart wasn’t in and I started to re-discover my passions. For a short time I thought about going back to University to complete my degree, however my desire to establish my career and to own my first home before I’m 30 has put that on hold. So here I am trying to figure out how to get myself on the right track.

Wish me luck.

my career so far

Fast forward 2 years, 4 moves and 4 jobs later here I am in 2016, almost 24 years of age and I haven’t yet found myself in a career I love. But let’s rewind a moment and provide some cliff notes.

Move

Shortly after going dark on the original version of this blog I started my first job. I was a Service Desk Representative with Level 3 Communications. For some unknown reason they took a chance on me and I am very thankful that I did. While I may have some mixed emotions about my 18 months with them, I wouldn’t have the experience and knowledge I have today without their help. I had two roles during my time with Level 3; I initially worked in their Updates Team and then as my knowledge of telecoms grew I moved into Incident Management. During my time in both teams, I helped train new starters, I learned what I was capable of and most of all I met some very different and wonderful people.

Then came Daisy World Wide, where I was hired as a Provisioning Specialist; specialist I was not. Having been in the role for a month or so, a member of my already surprisingly small team departed and I was tasked with picking up their role. No longer was I in my comfort zone of ADSL & copper lines, I was provisioning mobile orders with a 24 hour turn around. Unfortunately, a 24 hour turn around was unachievable for me. Not due to lack of trying but lack of support; if my manager wasn’t flossing his teeth at his desk he was absent. Eventually the rumour train brought wind of impending redundancies and I jumped shipped.

I landed in the arms of Kelway; I was now an IT First Line Support Analyst. On a 3 month fixed term contract I got to learn how to use and manage Citrix, how to create and amend Active Directory accounts and many more IT related functions. My time here was short lived and relatively uneventful: though I did notice how service desks truly function. When it comes to team leader and managerial positions it truly is more a case of who you know rather than what you know and this could lead to some very immature and frankly surprising behaviour.

As my FTC came to end I had concluded that Peterborough was not for me. The packing boxes came out and we moved to Cardiff.

I’m still working in IT Support, still performing a similar function as I did at Kelway however, on a much smaller scale. Having finally managed to settle down and get my thoughts in order I have realised that a career in IT is probably not one for me.

21 steps

I have completed my first 21 steps (and a few extra); no I haven’t only just learnt to walk, my JSA agreement consists of me completing (at least) 21 ‘steps’ towards getting a job each week. Relatively simply work for £56.80; except my claim still hasn’t been approved.

I have applied for a lot of jobs; sales roles, marketing assistant roles, a store assistant role at Next, a customer service role, I even had a phone interview with LSG, unfortunately I didn’t make the cut. At least during that interview I wasn’t inundated with daft questions about having a horse.

I have also organised some work experience in a Marketing team. Unfortunately, while this week has consisted of me sending out a lot of applications it has been rather uneventful otherwise. So I shall leave you all with this; I arrived at the Job Centre 10 minutes before my appointment & took a seat. A dripping wet, tracksuit clad man came in and I overheard the receptionist tell him he was 40 minutes late for his appointment but he was still seen before me. I noticed a few other choice things, I was the only person (bar the staff) not wearing a tracksuit and the only person sat reading a book while waiting.

I was eventually seen by a very pleasant man named Eddie. He was very impressed that I had completed my 21 steps and more and didn’t really have any advice to give me other than recommend a company where I could get an apprenticeship. He told me I was lovely and that he can’t imagine me struggling to get a job. Yet I have a feeling that for the kind of job I am looking for I may need a Rachel Green / Tag Jones scenario to help me on my way. However, in this instance I am a less experienced Tag Jones.

(Friends: the one with Rachel’s assistant please see the clip below:)

the Job Centre

That’s right, I applied for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). I only needed to go in and sign on every fortnight; where is the inconvenience in it?However, due to new laws regarding government hand-outs’ it was actually quite an ordeal.

Let me explain; in order to secure JSA one needs to prove they really are out there pounding the pavement looking for work. Not only keeping a “My Work Plan” journal that your coach assess every week but you also have to complete 21 steps (for myself this was each week) to ensure you receive your JSA. What can these steps be?

  • Logging onto a job site and searching
  • Applying for a job
  • Enquiring about work experience or employment
  • Organising/attending interviews

So there is quite a bit involved with getting your £56.80 a week.

What can I say about my first interview with the Job Centre?
As you would stereotypically expect there were a few tracksuit clad people stood outside the entrance, some young parents and one young man professing he had a great business plan but no evidence with him to prove it. On the whole the experience was far better than that of the previous day. I was greeted by a friendly woman who took me over to an ‘over 25s coach’ who discussed the criteria I’d have to meet to qualify for JSA and explained my next meeting would be with a member of the 18-24 team.

Afterwards she asked to take a look at my CV, she gave me a few helpful hints; add a header or a footer so that if the pages get separated they can be re-paired; just list the number of GCSEs you have grade A-C (i.e. 8 GCSEs grade A-C including English & Maths); and that the average employer will only spend 30 seconds reading a CV before they decided whether or not to discard it.

She then said something I didn’t agree with”you need to depersonalise your CV”. Now while I appreciate her input it seems inherently wrong to me that a CV should be impersonal; by all means avoid the overuse of the word “I” but by every means make it personal. How else will you stand out from a crowd of other job seeker?

The newly formed cynic in me is fairly certain that her main priority is to get me in any form of employment, even if that means asking “would you like fries with that?”.  Unfortunately for the people at job centre I wasn’t just looking to settle for any job. I hadn’t left further education to take the first dead end job I was offered. 

But in order to satisfy the job centre I re-wrote my CV.

first contact

The evening of January 20th saw my first 7 job applications head out into cyber space. Apprehensive and elated about my first steps out into the real world I went to bed knowing I had had my first two productive days of 2014.

One of the positions I have applied for is a street fundraiser for the British Red Cross, I can’t imagine I’ll enjoy a job where people will go out of their way to avoid me, but with a sympathetic heart and little to no work experience I decided to apply for anything and everything. But to my delight there were advertisements for people in my ‘predicament’ “Customer Service & Sales Assistant – No Experience Necessary” & “URGENT! Customer Service / Sales / Trainee – Manchester“; how wonderful jobs where I can start from the bottom and work my way up!

(Stop rolling your eyes, I do eventually realise my mistake.)

On the 21st I got up early to go to my horse, George. He greeted me with a cuddle and I gave him a fuss before getting him his breakfast and mucking out. I finished his stable and checked my phone, I had a missed call. I ring the number only to get the voice mail of Rachel calling on behalf of Open Advertising. I decided not to leave a voice mail as George was being noisy and I thought that may have left a weird impression. I switched my phone off silent so I didn’t miss another call and what would you know, 10 minutes later my phone was ringing again. YES, you guessed it, it was Rachel. She called me sweetie a lot, double checked I had applied for a position with them and informed me that her manager was very impressed with my CV. “Would you like to come in for an interview?” she had my attention “how about tomorrow? is 1:30pm okay?” she had me excited. Of course I said yes. The phone call ended. In the midst of the nerves and the excitement I didn’t hear the alarm bells. All I could think was “whats all this it’s really hard to find a job, I only applied last night and I already have an interview for tomorrow!”.

The rest of my day went as normal; I bought horse feed, sheath cleaner, leather feed & polish for the bridle I’d been neglecting and whilst at the saddlery I got yet another phone call! (No, you guessed wrong, it wasn’t Rachel). This time it was a Scottish woman, lets call her Zoe. She didn’t say the name of the company she was ringing on the behalf of, though her accent was strong so I may have just missed it. Again I was invited for an interview the next day (10am)! Well after seeing to Georgie for a 2nd time, I went home to try and figure out if I had the correct ‘business attire’. I didn’t. I shopped.

I planned my travel arrangements for the next morning, the 08:50 train from Crewe to Stockport and the 09:35 train from Stockport to Davenport Station to then walk to the Alma Lodge on Buxton Road for my 1st interview.

05:30 I wake up, I can’t sleep properly due to the build up of nerves and excitement for my day ahead. I try to go back to sleep as my alarm isn’t going off till 06:45.

The alarm sounds.

I caught my first train still nervous and the feeling growing. I got off at Stockport to find my next train is delayed. Great. I finally got to Davenport and put the postcode into my phone for directions to the Alma Lodge (I still cannot hear the alarm bells). My phone sent me 10 minutes in the wrong direction. I rang ” Hi, this is Jasmin I have an interview at 10am with Zoe Richards, I’ve gotten a little lost walking from Davenport Station could you let her know I am on my way and I should be with her in 5 minutes”. The receptionist re-directed me and eventually I arrived. “Oh hi Jasmin, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to ring you back. I sent someone down to tell Zoe and she asked you to come back at 12, but she will have only just started so just go down”. She directed me down the stairs, I checked my face in a mirror and hurried down.

I sheepishly knocked on the door and Scottish woman (yes, Zoe) opens it. “Hi I’m Jasmin, I’m so sorry I’m late”
“Can you please come back at 12”
“I’m afraid I can’t I have another interview in Manchester at half 1”
“Well here take this and we can rearrange” she passes me an A4 sheet of paper with a job description and contact details.

I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly at roughly 11am I decided a coffee was definitely required. I pulled out the information sheet.

I’ll only bore you with the 1st 4 bullet points:

  • weekly pay
  • earning up to 15% commission on sales
  • year 1 on target earning £50k uncapped
  • St Helens Glass have been trading for over 43 years and install Grade A energy efficient winder, doors, conservatories and roofline across the UK

It finally happened; the alarm bells rang. I pulled out my phone and turned to google Fate had intervened and saved me from a bullet.

 

The alarm bells grew louder; I started thinking about how easy I got these interviews. I started doing some research on Open Advertising (OA). Well the website wasn’t associated with the sound of alarms. But I still wasn’t satisfied.

I came across this: http://zainabusman.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/how-i-fell-victim-to-a-recruitment-scam-in-the-uk/ and this is when the alarm bells became deafening.

“When I got the call for an interview the next day, I was so excited, being an international student, and knowing how difficult it is to land a job anywhere in these hard times.”

I got a call for interview the day after applying…

Well I’ll go and just see what it’s like. It’s all experience at the end of the day.

“…the office was used by 8 other similar marketing firms…”

Oh.

“There were hordes of applicants dressed in formal attire like myself, sitting, waiting for interviews for the numerous firms”

“I also found it strange that what was meant to be an interview (that is, the potential employer asking questions and myself, the applicant responding) turned out to be me sitting in front of the manager, in his untidy office, listening to him talk about progression to managerial position in 9 months.”

This isn’t exactly what happened to me. I got called into the office and Diane asked me about my previous work experience, whether I’d be interested in a job with the possibility of progression and that OA are rapidly expanding and wanting to taking on as many new sales execs’ and progressing them as soon as possible to managerial positions.

The ‘formalities’ ended there. Diane began asking about my interests, I told her about George and the next ten minutes consisted of her talking to me about George and her sons pet fish. Alarm bells were still sounding, she said something astonishing “I’d like to invite you back to a second interview, are you free at 11:30… tomorrow? You’ll spend the day observing a member of our sales team and then be asked to do a quick test, don’t worry it’s really easy, and if you pass that we’ll offer you a job at the end of the day”.

“After the “interview” I was told that I would be contacted that same day, between 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm, to be notified if I had made it through to the second stage and that if I did, I would be expected to attend an assessment which would last an entire day, from 12.30 pm to 8.30 pm. I eventually received the call around 6.30 pm that I was “successful” and was expected to attend the assessment day the very next day.”

“At the assessment day, I kept feeling very uneasy as it became more evident that the only thing to be done in that job role is intensive door-to-door sales. All of a sudden, the initial fancy-pansy “Customer Service Representative” role dissolved and transformed into “Independent Sales Advisor”. It became increasingly apparent that they expected us to spend the whole day outside, essentially harassing and pestering people…”

“What was even more worrying and unbelievable was that we, the applicants, were made to sign some disclaimers stating that we were not employees of Primus and that we are not entitled to any pay or benefits or claims. So if I get hit by a car for instance while running around from house to house pestering and extorting money from people, there’s nothing the firm can or will do.”

“The employee is also made to dress in formal attireand work from around 10.00 am till 8.30 pm (you actually report back to the office by 8.30 pm and fully close for the day between 9.00 to 10.00pm) Mondays to Saturdays! In addition, the pay is entirely based on commission if you meet a minimum target for the day/week (about £13 per day I think) otherwise, you get nothing.”

I told Diane I’d have to rearrange some things, she said she’d send me an email for conformation of my invitation to an ‘assessment day’ and that she looked forward to seeing me again.

I never saw Diane again.

I left at 14:00 and by 14:32 I had received the email.

I fell ‘victim’ to not 1 but 2, yes 2, RECRUITMENT SCAMS.

In summary, that morning I left the house completely naive; by that evening I had become cynical and very much hardened to the challenge I had embarked on.

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-recruitment-scams
http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=62171091
http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/01612340136  (the comments on this thread also gave me some warning about OA)

 

the CV

After leaving university around the start of December 2014, I was off to a slow start. I hadn’t touched the CV I started in the previous the summer, and while I did look at Christmas temp jobs only one looked intriguing “reindeer handler”, unfortunately the position had been filled; who’d have thought it. So that was that, Christmas came and went, and it was New Years eve before I knew it. I hadn’t done anything.

January 1st I took my first pro-active action. I enquired at a local pub. I was asked to wait a few weeks for staff to migrate back to uni so I went back into jobseekers hibernation.

January 22nd I still hadn’t heard from the pub.

As everyones New Years hangovers lifted questions akin to “so what are you doing with yourself?” & “what do you want to do as a career?” started to erupt from my immediate family. I didn’t have an answer. How surprising. I had started getting emails from my dad with lists upon lists of jobs in the area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t apply for any of them because I still hadn’t written my CV. Something in this copious list sparked my interest and so I too started searching, trying to see what I could and wanted to apply for. Still without a completed CV I had about 15 tabs open all with jobs I was interested in, I had reached page 33 of jobs within a 15 mile radius, and started looking at jobs in Manchester and Chester.

Finally, in the week commencing January 13th I brushed the dust off of my “CV” and starred blankly at barely half a page of drivel. I tried ‘playing’ with it to no avail; I was still as stubborn as a mule about pulling my finger out. I had a friend take a look at it on January 17th, having been informed by my dad he’d like to see a draft copy at the weekend, I finally had some idea of where I’d been going wrong. But with The Croods to watch and milkshakes to drink I still did nothing productive.

Sunday 19th January 2014. My dad arrives expecting to read a draft copy of my CV I hand over my laptop and the page displayed showed my qualifications, a job description for Waitrose and 3 bullet points of what I considered to be “key achievements”; I’m sure it wasn’t what he had expected to see. After a quick discussion, I sat down to start again.

January 20th I finally had a real draft that I could let people read without getting (quite so) embarrassed. I sent it to a few trusted friends and of course my Dad. I finally had a CV worthy of being called so; one that I could actually send out to employers!! Unfortunately a lot of the jobs I had found the weeks prior were no longer accepting applications so I started looking again and off went my first 7 job applications…