Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Haha so much happened yesterday it was almost surreal.

Ok, I got invited to this 'Alumni Academy' day which took place yesterday. Some lady invited me on Tuesday via phone call, explaining to me that it was for graduates and the intention was to try and place them into relevant sales/marketing placements, if they passed a series of exercises and got involved in debates.

So I went along yesterday. I had to be up fairly early (7am) in order to get myself back home, showered and prepared. I had to wear a business suit, which looked smart but admittedly, wasn't all that comfortable.I took the train at around 10am to get to Manchester Oxford Road. All was well I was thinking, until on the second leg of the journey, I got accused by the train conductor of trying to 'have him off' by not purchasing my ticket straight away and asking for a return from Manchester Oxford Road to Heald Green (the place where the academy was). He asked me,'So how did you get through the barrier at Oxford Road?' and asked me where I had actually come from.

It wasn't my intention to do anything 'illegal' as he was claiming, but to just buy my ticket from Oxford Road-Widnes on the way back home.

For starters, I couldn't get a ticket at Widnes station because there was some guy in the queue faffing about and taking ageees discussing with the station controller - by which point I was losing the will to live and probably would've missed my train. Then on the train the conductors walked right past and just completely ignored me - they seemed to have some new girl who didn't know what she was doing at all. So by the time I got to Manchester I just thought 'fuck it I'll just buy it on the train here'. Didn't realise that was such a crime.

Also I didn't know that you could buy a ticket like an 'all in one' direct. That sounds kinda odd, but last time I had to switch trains I could only purchase a ticket from said station to [insert destination] on the route, so I was under the assumption it was still like that.

Anyway I arrived at Heald Green by 11am. It's on the route to Manchester Airport, so it's like the station stop before that one. I had already ate a sandwich on the way down there and by the time I got off the train I realised I was walking with a few people of similar age to my own who had business suits on themselves. So we all started to have a chat and before long we were at the Academy which was based at the Manchester International Office Centre which was this big building next to a load of other officey type places. We went in there and we had to wait for the good part of an hour before being called up.

There was at least 20 different graduates there. All very different. All dressed in business suits. Most were men. I was one of only four girls there. We received name badges and were led into a business meeting type room.

The next couple of hours went fast, but in that time we got a basic grounding of the day, did an 'ice breaker' exercise where we had to present our 'neighbour' to the rest of the class. &then we received a sales training course, which included performing an exercise where we had to pretend we were a sales training company and were selling our services to some IT company who were looking to employ people.

Then finally we had to get involved in a 'constructed' debate - my group's was about capital punishment but some girl in our group argued 'for' capital punishment rather than against which was a lot bloody harder. The other group had to argue for and against the congestion charge. Whilst I got involved, I didn't feel as though I contributed enough on the actual day because the people there just seemed to be talking utter bullshit - it was definitely a matter of manner over content. Plus I fall under the pressure of having to think directly on my feet, I'd rather prepare for a bit longer than 5 minutes to be honest.

Didn't help much that they didn't have any breaks whatsoever either. I bloody well needed the toilet too, but you only got 5 minutes to prepare for these massive exercises and then it was straight back in the room. I knew I wouldn't pass by the time the debates rolled around. The way they announced who had passed this free sales training course was by calling out a list of people's names and taking them out of the room. I knew by the point where he said 'You can leave your stuff as you'll be coming back' that those people had gone through.

But quite a lot of people's names didn't get called. Mine was one. But there were at least 10 people or so who didn't get called. We got told we could then leave. I was kinda excited to be honest by this point as I was about ready to burst. I ended up going to the pub with one of the guys I'd previously met on the way down there called Blake. We also met a fellow rejectee and had a drink with him. I had a white wine spritzer and we just had a chat about why we never passed. One of the main reasons I believe was that we had journalism/humanities degrees. Like nearly all the people who got through had engineering or technical degrees. So the potential 'vacancies' must be in those sectors. As one of the girls who sat in on the process specifically asked if anyone had an engineering or technical degree as some of the recruiters were being very specific with that detail. So there you go.

I was used to basically meet a requirement, which was to 'fill' a place. I suspect the people there who arrange these days have to find so many graduates from different disciplines interested in that sort of area and it gets rather tricky so they just try and find anyone. Whilst I do feel that the day was somewhat of a waste, it was learning experience - that was my first graduate assesment day I've ever been to. Admittedly, it was a bit weird though.

It wasn't a waste in many ways however. I talked to a few of the people who succeeded on the day and they said that there probably isn't any vacancies anyway and that all of the people who got through probably won't get jobs. &also, one of the guys who was about 26, was being offered a starting salary for one vacancy of £14K, but he's currently on a lot more than that with his present job- so that wouldn't be very worthwhile.

I got the train home with a bunch of them and I talked to one guy who told me a load of names for different companies I should try and that sort of thing. So it was really helpful in those ways.

By the time I got to Manchester Piccadilly though - there was no train back home to Widnes :( so I ended up having to go to Warrington. Then wait there for another train which stopped at Widnes. Waiting on the platform however, some guy who looked rather unkempt and unclean asked me if he didn't mind me smoking (no, but it's now illegal to smoke at a train station). I said I didn't. Then he started telling me how he'd never been on a train before and how he was going to visit his mum for the first time in 10 years :/ I didn't really know what to say. He was rambling a little but he was like 'Will you keep me company on the train?' and when we were on there he was like 'What do I do - how does it work?' and I ended up having to tell him where he'd have to get off when he got to Lime St and then take another train from there which would hopefully take him to Ellesmere Port. Apparently he was from somewhere called Ashton, not far from Wigan and he'd been travelling all day.


Obviously freaked out a little and trying to keep calm by this point, he got a phone call from his Mum who wouldn't believe he was on a train so he was like 'Look Mum, I've got this lady friend, go on speak into the phone...' Errr 'Say hello?'
'Hello' I said, then that was that. Lol.
I couldn't get over how a 31 year old was acting more like he was 10. I was glad to get off the train and finally get home. It was great to get back and relax.

While yesterday was sure interesting, I think I'll be sticking to proper job interviews and avoiding those 'graduate days' from now on. Urgh.

Not sure what I'll be doing today, but I know that tonight I'm going to see Slipknot with Gary and his sister Katy. Should be interesting as Machine Head and Children of Bodom are also playing XD