My first UK work experience, and beyond: resilience!

gloria-okemuo-Cropped-220x300I set out to look for work experience and eventually found myself at the Citizen’s Advice as a Volunteer Trainee Advisor. But because what I was looking for was work experience both for my CV and for a better understanding of my new environment, I was willing to do everything from photocopying to shredding and to manning the reception. While I wasn’t paid for this job, I was exposed to a deeper understanding of the British culture and learnt valuable life skills as well as redeveloping my hitherto fluttering confidence. Suffice to say that I garnered invaluable experiences and was exposed to an understanding of the UK work environment including the ever green principle that people are more likely to go out of their way for one if one could go out of his or her way for others. I also made contacts and went from committing two days per week at Citizen’s Advice to a more favourable 2 hours per week at the Centre for Equality and Diversity. In fact, I’ve been literally astounded by the results of my (Careers Network) assisted resilience.

I write this on a chilly morning when getting up from bed is not often the body’s greatest desire. But, I’ve gotten out of bed quite easily! This is not simply because of my passion to share my experiences, but also because of the ever inspiring words of Thomas Edison: “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

While I know the words are those of Thomas Edison, I am yet to find out the genius who found the perfect place for them on the wall of the training room at Careers Network. But I guess this is not as important as the importance of the quote to the topic of this blog.

Indeed, those words have ever been with me ever since my first time in that room during my undergraduate days. They contributed to my resilience when my job hunting was not yielding the results I expected. I’ve chosen the word ‘contributed’ because I do think that ‘resilience’ is one adjective that would apply to every International Student. The only justification I have for this, is that the decision to leave the comfort zone of one’s home or country to an entirely new environment is not an easy one to make. And, once in the new environment, ‘resilience’ remains the key to success. Dean Becker of the Harvard Business Review puts it thus “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails…” Of course, this is not to say that ‘resilience’ is automatically anyone’s second nature simply because they made the difficult decision to leave home. But, I believe it can be sustained or strengthened by either self-motivation or external motivation, or both. Herein lays the connection to the quote above, for in my case, these words which my eyes copied from the wall on the training room at Careers Network and pasted on my mind, have been ever helpful. Let’s not forget that they propelled me out of bed this cold morning!

With regards to job-hunting, the contribution of these words to my resilience also propelled me beyond the wave of disillusionment that threatened to carry me away from the shores of my desire to succeed. I am further armed with the support received from Careers Network including with regards to CV reconstruction, job-hunting skills workshops and provision of print and online resources.


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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