Editor’s note: This Friday we continue to follow Alex on his way to employment. With the first week of his training over, he discovered unexpected side(s) to himself; you, our dear readers, will learn whether a Jaffa cake is a cake or a biscuit – as I’ve said before you never know what will come handy during a job interview.
Following on from last week’s entry I have attended the first half of the ICM training course, here in Manchester (UK, this is). My findings, as I promised to relay to you, are very good ones indeed. And although it feels a bit like a sales pitch is being conducted – for that of customer service job roles – the attitude and intentions from the leading tutor are bright, genuine and of good humour.
During the course we discuss and have lectures on aspects ranging from how to fill out an application form correctly to in-depth psychological analyses. Even NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is at work to seek out a thorough evaluation of each individual’s temperament and our interaction within groups, and how we generally find the solution to given tasks. I was aware of these examinations being carried out by the tutor before they were revealed and found it both intriguing and an admirable method used by the tutor to aid each student’s needs and their levels of diminished confidence.
Also, unsurprisingly the majority of other students are in a similar boat to the one I’m in – Lost at sea at such a young age and open to seeking new horizons, or at least to try out anything that will relieve them of the harsh drought created by unemployment.
Now, picture this…
The scenario is mostly an informal one. The atmosphere is well balanced and jovial whereby myself,and I believe the other twenty job seekers, feel comfortable and befriended. It doesn’t feel like we’re being tricked into something, and it’s made clear that this is not some sort of conveyor belt for the mass production of minimum wage workers. It is more personal with more variety, and more engaging.
It is true, however, that we’re all being sold the idea of working in the customer service sector, but there is plenty of room for manoeuvre for each student with their own particular interests and experiences.
The course outcome is an Edexcel qualification, which is at a similar level that is achieved at high schools and colleges across the UK. Yet this is not the real goal, as useful as it can amount to be. The real goal is to prepare us for job interviews, working in teams and so we’re not caught off guard by set responsibilities or awkward encounters within the world of employment.
I have experience dealing with potentially volatile situations in the retail industry, as well as having dealt with on-going responsibilities in a shop as I was an assistant manager of one a few years back. But the truth is I never had to fight to get that job. I never had to go through numerous face-to-face interviews, phone interviews or competency based questions that try to catch you out, such as “Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?” The information and training I’m receiving now will help me when the time comes to sell myself and my skills to employers.
Overall there are five presentations and modules we have to endure to progress through the course. So far we have completed two of each, and as a result of the presentations I’ve discovered an unknown level of confidence within myself. I received an individual round of applause for the second presentation on the usage of a made-up product, and it felt good. I managed to overcome the nerves and engaged the whole group, making them laugh and appear interested. Stumbling into this kind of unchartered territory has installed a unique confidence in me that I haven’t experienced before and for once I was the one empathising with anyone else who looked or sounded overly nervous, especially as that is exactly how I have felt before and how I expected to feel.
Next week I expect more challenges, and by the last presentation I hope to be more confident on what I’m able to achieve. There will be the opportunity of meeting employers for customer service companies physically attending sessions and although a job is not guaranteed by the end of the course, the simple adjustment of all of our damaged mindsets to being more prepared and outgoing in our pursuits in life will open doors we never knew existed, and unlock doors we previously saw as impenetrable barriers.
Watch this space. I may not be on the path to greatness just yet, but this kind of training allows me to foresee positive outcomes and look into the mirror without starling at the beast in front of me, but instead see a face of a man with ability and future prospects.
End Note: A Jaffa Cake is a cake but is packaged, advertised and sold as a biscuit because of its shape, texture and size. Any further ambiguity is deemed unnecessary.