It was early on a Monday morning, very early in fact (for me at least). I was wearing the best purple shirt and matching tie that Sainsbury’s had on sale, my fanciest black trousers and some black shoes I stole from my dad because I don’t actually own a pair myself. On my back was my backpack filled with pens, a notepad and a packed lunch that I had made (quite badly I would find out later) and my head and stomach were filled with nerves and butterflies that wouldn’t stop moving around no matter how many deep breaths I took or calm oceans I pictured. I made my way up to the office of the primary school I had just entered and caught the eye of one of the hard-at-work office staff there. “Er… Hi.” I mumbled. “I’m supposed to be doing some volunteer work here I think?”
Oh yeah. I’m really good at first impressions.
Luckily, they knew I was coming and were prepared for an awkward, student-type arriving for two weeks of work experience in a primary school classroom.
What a crazy two weeks it was. I was in a new classroom every day. I had a new teacher and a new class to work with ranging from reception classes (4-5 year olds) to year 5 classes (9 – 10 year olds). I had a veritable cornucopia of jobs: Listening to the children read, helping them with classwork, teaching basic weaving, teaching them how to make paper plate frisbees (which they loved) and a wide variety of other things. I think the most interesting was teaching a few children how to garden, especially as I have no idea how to do that! (You just chuck the seeds in some soil, sprinkle some water on occasionally and hope for the best right? Obviously I phrased it better when telling the pupils…)
When I initially heard the words ‘work experience’, I will admit I pulled a face. Experience work? Work… without pay? Just for experience? Who on earth would do that!?
But after doing the whole worky experiencey thing, I can now say it is a good idea. I know many people who have taken a course with their ‘future job’ in mind, only to get a job and find out that they actually don’t find it as interesting as they hoped. In fact, they hated it and said they felt they wasted their degree. This work experience gave me the opportunity to find out what goes on in a primary classroom, what it is like to be a teacher, what responsibilities I would have and most importantly, if I want to follow this career path in the future. Also, working with the ICT specialist in the school has given me ideas to apply my current degree to my future career. Who doesn’t love educational games? Most people it turns out. I’m going to try and make some good ones!
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t be afraid to test the waters. Volunteer a bit. Find your feet. I know everyone is pressuring you to get a job, earn lots of money and stuff like that, but even if you get a job which earns lots of money, if you aren’t happy then what is the point?