by Emily Wonford
For my placement for 201MC, I chose two work areas that I felt I wanted to get more experience from.
To coincide with my attendance on the Volunteering and Employability committee and my interest in the voluntary sector, I chose to work at the Deal Centre for the Retired, where I regularly go to help where I can. However, unlike on the days where I go in just to help with Boccia on weekdays or to make teas and coffees and keep the older people entertained, I was given meaningful jobs. For my first week I lent my services in the Charity Shop and met Helen Morgan, Shop Manager. Every day, new bags, full bags, would come in and need sorting, tagging and pricing or sometimes just trashing. I’ll admit it wasn’t hard work but I thoroughly enjoyed it, my obsessive compulsive side liked being able to sort and organise.
On Friday’s I was allowed free reign in the store room and this allowed me to use what I had learnt during the week with Helen, by standing on my own two feet. I was left to sort, tag and price on my own. As simple as it was, this was a test of my confidence in myself to make the right decision. I was also trusted with decorating the shop window, a chance to let out my creative side. I really enjoyed this, as I could be particular and tidy. I know that I had done this well because as soon as I was placing items in the window they were being bought. I don’t think there was anything in this area that I could have done better, as I was only a volunteer with minimal responsibilities. I would have liked to have learnt more about the running of the shop, but I have been advised that in the summer months I will be trained to cover managerial duties whilst Helen is on holiday.
During my second week, it was more multi-tasking than one solid job. I would cover volunteers that were unable to make it in that day, in the Servery (where teas and coffees are made) and of course this was no test of my abilities but it gave me experience to work with people much older than myself and to respect them. Out of the two weeks, I found this was the most important factor. Other duties in the final week included paper work. My IT skills came into use and I wrote up the Risk Assessment records dating back from 2009. As far as what I learnt in this job, I know that office or receptionist work is not on my horizon. Between sat in front of a computer typing all day and doing physical work in the shop, I far preferred work in the shop. I thought this was where I could use my creative, artistic skills in a more exciting medium than in an office.
Although I wasn’t involved in a lot of the running of the centre, I feel my experience was invaluable. I have been volunteering at the Centre since Summer 2010 and it has turned me around as a person. I am far less selfish and have a new found respect for the elderly and truly enjoy their company. I learnt more about myself and others rather than experience which I can use in the work place. To me, this is far more useful for future careers than any experience typing up Risk Assessment Reports.
For the second part of this module, I chose to have two weeks at my local newspaper. I had previously had two weeks placement at the Isle of Thanet Gazette to decide whether I wanted to do Journalism at University. However, this time around it didn’t have the effect on me I hoped it would. I knew it would hardly be exciting, but I thought working in a busy journalistic hub, with constant news feeds would give me the thrill I so craved after losing my desire for journalism two years into university. With local elections and the royal wedding it was exciting and busy but not enough for me, I couldn’t get as involved as I would have liked. Instead, I was left with mini stories and nibs.
I excelled on my first day, dipping my toe straight into a story about an artistic feature in Ramsgate. I trudged over a story, trying to do the gallery, which was essentially a construction wall with creative paintings on hardwood hung on it, for it to be made Friday 29th’s page 8 lead. I was proud of myself and I got a buzz and finally thought I was on a roll.
If I got anything out of this placement, it was confidence. I was sent out in the field to complete vox pops on my own on my second day and had to improvise. I did this well, as I got all the relevant information from the public and was able to write it up quickly and efficiently when I got back to the office. I was able to call people on the phone for interviews without hesitating and tried to ask all the right questions, although sometimes I would forget the obvious ‘age’ or ‘occupation’ questions which seem so relevant in article writing.
However, my confidence was knocked slightly when I wrote a feature on a new technology building and only a paragraph of my own writing was left in the article, and my nibs were cut short. I took this as constructive criticism and it has allowed me to learn that my writing needs to be adapted to suit the publication I am writing for, therefore it has also taught me that I have a very specific writing style, that I quite enjoy and perhaps I am better suited to other publications. I find factual article writing mundane and dull and like to add creativity and atmosphere; I think I am better suited to more witty publications or travel pieces where I can let my creativity thrive and so I will start to focus on my strengths in future assignments.
I found it slightly disappointing that out of a two week placement, the experience that made me find my desire for writing was a trip with Steam Dreams to London in order to get a story for the local paper about a first time ever 8 day tip with a steam engine around the country. I also learnt that it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know and I have made some very useful contacts over the past two weeks that I shall keep for future reference.