Thursday, 9 April 2009

The end of my work experience.....

Today was my last day of work experience and it was a strange kind of day. On Wednesday I did my interview with the managing director of a company. I had a brief but when the guy started talking I got all wrapped up in his story of a tough childhood and how he turned adversity into opportunity that I ignored the brief. The interview went well, I was at my most charming thinking that it was the way to get some real nuggets of information. I was struck once again about the power of an intention made when we are a child in terms of creating the future. He was so poor but yet his parents found enough money to send him to private school and there he met other kids whose parents were richer, who lived in nicer houses and quite frankly he said to me 'I wanted that for myself'. I had a fleeting thought that I want to be a Bodhissatva but it isn't happening like that for me, but then I pushed this thought away and replaced it with the thought that my journey is longer, covering many lifetimes.

After the interview he went to find the site manager to give me a tour of the factory. It was then I remembered that I was supposed to have taken some pics of was I going to do now. I was gripped with a blind panic as I had visions of him not coming back but then saw that he had left his book on the table. He returned with the site manager and I immediately garbled something about having meant to ask about taking a pic. He looked understandably annoyed which completely threw me. I am no photographer so I had a nightmare few minutes trying to position him in a way which would look favourable to the camera. I managed to control the shaking in my own hand which is always the result of panic for me, not stress, but panic. I got 2 pics but then gave it up. He left me with the site manager who kitted me out with shoes, coat and hat to go around the factory. It was a fascinating experience. I have never walked around a factory before. I think all food arrives in its plastic covering. To see each stage of the process at work and the finished product at the end was so interesting and I got so involved. At the end I was given a huge bag of all the products the factory produces which I was very moved to get.

Once back at the office I sat in the car and took out the dictaphone and played side 1, everything fine, there, fast forwarded it and turned to side 2...nothing....completely could this have happened, I did press down the recording button when I turned the tape, I honestly did. Throwing aside the dictatphone I searched feverishly in my bag for my mobile phone which I also had going on the other side of him. Anxiously I searched through the recording, praying with everything I had that it had saved. Whew....what a relief, it had recorded and I got all of it. I learned so many lessons from this, firstly that I must make a note of everything it is that I need to do when I interview someone and also never rely on one piece of equipment especially when like me gadgets just seem to love to fail or maybe the truth is that it's down to my operation. It's like no matter what I do that part of my consciousness is not really grounded. I'm always thinking of some spritual truth or putting together the jigsaw pieces of human consciousness. Or is this just a cop-out for me not taking the responsibility for doing a job with integrity, doing it well in the way that it should be done and not the way I want to do it.

I calmed myself down and went into the office. I was so happy that I had everything and explained to the deputy editor some of what I had found out. She seemed pleased and I was happy. I settled down to write up the interview and again I found just how much I love words. I'm stuck for a word and then I just look away from my computer and then a whole sentence which is absolutely perfect comes to me and I am reminded again that no matter what the future is going to hold that I have done the right thing in leaving the kind of work I was doing to pursue writing. I know that I can reach, touch and inspire people with my words, all I am looking for is the right niche.

The editor was away on Wednesday and when I returned into the office on Thursday he asked me specifically to work on the interview so that it would be ready for the May issue of the magazine. I had already worked on it and had almost 1,000 words written. I knew that I only had another 400 words to write so didn't know how long I was expected to work on it. I got going quickly. I had transcribed all the interview from the recording on my mobile phone so I had everything and I quickly set to work. I finished my masterpiece and after reading it through was really pleased. I then told the editor that I had finished. This was met with such shock, horror, by one of the writers. How had I done it so quick?, I must have spent all night working on it on Wednesday night and I suppose that was true in that it did take a long time to transcribe it. I printed off two copies and left one for the editor and one for the deputy editor. I returned to my desk and wondered what it was I should do now.

I had those anxious moments as feedback is waited for. It wasn't long in coming. First came the compliment, it was a good job, then the real point. The magazine was a trade magazine, not a human interest magazine. I had got so enrolled that most of the article was angled about a boy making himself into a man to distance himself from childhood poverty. What the readers of the magazine are interested in is the workings of the factory, turnover, profit, efficiencies, machinery. I looked at her blankly and with a horrible sinking feeling realised that I had ignored the brief which had all of these kinds of questions. I realised also that I didn't ask them because I didn't feel comfortable that I understood the questions. But what was really going on was that I wanted to look good for the interview. I didn't want to rock the boat by asking him awkward questions about his profit line and so I allowed him to ramble off on his own story and got completely enrolled by it which led to an interview which is not at all suitable for the magazine.

It got worse.....then the editor came over and said 'that was quite nice, now for the rough', I thought to myself, I wish the ground would swallow me and then I thought 'this is exactly how I felt where I was last working, and it wasn't a very nice thought. But then I got a grip and thought 'no, get this in perspective, you are a good writer and journalist, you just wanted to look good and didn't follow a brief', this things can be fixed. What matters and is important is that I have integrity around what I do which is to write. I was asked to call back the managing director and make light of the fact that I didn't ask any hard questions and not at all sure that I could ask the right questions picked up the phone. I explained to the receptionist that Ineeded to re-check some information and would he have a few minutes at any point that afternoon. She asked me to 'hold' and then I heard the familiar chime of the managing director. I gathered myself and explained that there were gaps in what I should have asked him and could I ask now. He was very generous and said 'yes'. I tried to be more intentional but he was still utopia like and everything is rosy in the garden and this 2nd interview ended with me having got some more but not alot. I thanked him and for some stupid reason told him that some of what he had told me about his childhood would be in the I sitting on some self-destruct button. I had already been told that it was a trade magazine not a human interest magazine and I was in effect telling him what is going to be in the article when the editor has told me what will be in and out.

I had a feedback sheet which I had given to the editor at the start of my work experience placement and I asked him if he had it completed. With a flourish he waved it and asked me if I would like a few minutes of feedback. It was honestly the last thing I wanted given the kind of day I had but I thought 'no, this what this all about'. We grabbed a coffee and went into one of the meeting rooms. I was asked about the highs and lows of the week. I was honest and said the high was being part of a team of people who were really lovely and it brought home to me again just how much I love to work as a team. In that way doing freelance work is going to be a challenge for me. The low was not knowing how much work to look for and not sure about whether my accuracy was sacrificed for my speed. He agreed that I need to be more accurate especially with grammar which isn't my strong point. Then he pulled out my feedback sheet and my heart sank when I saw 3 for interview. But this is a fair assessment, I didn't followthe brief and I was too concerned with looking good and wanting to be liked than to get the information the magazine needed.

The frustrating thing is that years ago I worked as an editorial assistant for a magazine and I did some work experience on another magazine. Then I went for a job with the magazine as a staff writer, I didn't get it and I asked why. I was told 'you don't follow a brief''. I didn't understand what was meant then but I do now. But will it be enough for the next time for me to do as I am told and not what I want to do. I've lived a life where I have always done exactly what I want to do. It's the one thing my mum will always say to me when I get vulnerable and say that I'm not sure where my life is going. She will always say 'you have always done exactly what you want'. and this seems to be everywhere in my life and there is a real impact in terms of what it puts on everyone else. I know the editor had banked on the interview having everything it needed to be dropped onto the page, now someone else next week has to call the man again next week to get the information I didn't get because I was too concerned with looking good.

But...I can be with this which was great. To take responsibility gives a freedom and power and that is what I have done. I know what there is to do and I am determined to do it. The editor asked me about my plans for when I finish the course and I was honest and said that I wanted a job on a magazine and that I had gone to the HR department earlier in the day but there was no vacancies. He sighed and explained that he had even cut down on the number of freelance writers the magazine commissions but to keep in touch. This was more than I expected because I thought he had written me off as a 'too folksy' for the magazine. I did enjoy working there, the people were really nice and included me in everything for the week. I particularly enjoyed the lunch-time walks.

I collected up everything and took out my mobile phone and saw that I had a message. It was from the bookshop which has given a review to my book telling me that they had only two copies of my book left and could I bring in 10 one door couldn't have come at a better time.

Tomorrow I leave to spend Easter with my family in Ireland. I am tired. This move has been more traumatic than I have allowed myself to accept. I have been alone here in the house for the last three weeks and it's been great. The whole family return at the end of the next week so will be interesting how I cope....once again being confined to one room......

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