21.06.2012 - 31.07.2012 30 °C
If there is one thing I cannot get my head around, it is the fact that everything bureaucratically-minded is so lax in Darwin! Let me start from the beginning though...
As you may have read before, I was called into UNO MS one Wednesday afternoon to have a chat with Ben's boss Ewan about taking up a secretarial position at the company. Rather than it being an interview, I was called upon to attend an induction meeting with Ben about the company, its origins, its policies, some background information about Darwin, and so on. It was all a little overwhelming, especially as I did not apply for any roles and had no idea what was coming at me. It's just the way things go in Darwin, it seems! And so on Thursday and Friday, I had my first two days of work at UNO MS with Ben and Ewan. Unfortunately, these first couple of days also turned out to be the last. It was lovely being able to drive into work with Ben, we really enjoyed each other's company and Ben's boss Ewan is the sweetest employer you could imagine, but it soon became clear that I was not cut out for the job.
First of all, I was surrounded by engineers and my work involved things which my brain could not cope with. The tasks at hand weren't necessarily difficult, but I was merely following instructions without understanding the reasoning behind it. Add to this that UNO MS would be hitting their 3rd anniversary in a few weeks time - an all important milestone for new companies! - and I was constantly worried that I would be doing something wrong and prevent them from achieving their goals mistake-free. It confirmed that maybe this was not the right career-path for me and I was happy when the weekend came and I was given some time to think my options over.
Fast-forward to Sunday evening and as I was chatting away to my grandmother on our newly installed landline phone, my mobile phone rang and Ben picked up. As it turned out, I had received a phone-call from the hotel across the corner and Ben - hopeless as he is when it comes to answering important messages - forgot to get a contact number for me to return the call. What followed was a mad rush for me to get out of my pyjamas into something decent, and run across the road to the hotel, hoping to catch the mysterious lady, supposedly named Lyn, but in actual fact called Glenys (close enough Bennie, close enough!) at the reception desk. She was completely gob-smacked that I had come in to see her at this time of night, but it soon paid off as I walked out with a uniform and an offer to start work the next morning! Yeay!
And this is how, on Monday 25th of June, I started work at Quest. Unfortunately, another girl had recently been hired to take over the front office position, so they wanted to take me on as a housekeeper with the promise of getting me trained as soon as possible. Everything would be discussed during my first "trial week". During my first few hours I was taken through all the routines of cleaning and servicing rooms and then it was up to me to remember every detail and get on with it under team manager Christine's supervision. The work was stressful and physically exhausting. The work did not bother me but more so the fact that everything had to be timed. Housekeepers literally get 35 minutes to get a studio flat ready and this includes getting rid of rubbish that has been left behind, stripping linen and making the beds, thoroughly cleaning the bathroom, the windows, the air-conditioning filters, doing the dishes, dusting the room, vacuuming and mopping the floors as well as restocking all the additional goodies such as magazines, notebooks, soaps and gels, all sorts of towels (all to be folded in a certain matter) which all had their own special place in the room. The work is incredibly pedantic. Painfully so even. I suppose that if guests leave the room behind in a reasonable state, it can be done in 35 minutes providing you rush and speed things up. If you have messy clients, it can easily take you more than an hour to get the room looking sparkly and new again. And with me being a bit of a perfectionist, I knew from the very beginning that this could not be done without breaching the high standards that Quest had to adhere to and I soon realised that the other staff were cutting corners wherever they could.
As the days went on, I started to feel more and more miserable and it was made worse by the fact that none of the managers talked to me about working hours, pay rates, receptionist training and so on. I had to take every day as it came and was unaware of what lay in store for me. It wasn't until Friday afternoon whilst speaking to the main manager that it became clear that Quest had been leading me on and that the receptionist training was first of all unavailable until December and something they could not promise me. It made me rethink my situation over the weekend and it was obvious that this would be the end of another career-path for me. I suppose a lot of it has to do with pride as well as the knowledge that being a housekeeper here was not going to bring me any further opportunities to grow in the industry. And since Quest is a small chain, housekeeping was all they could offer me.
And so it was back to square one on the job front. The relaxed attitude towards job-recruitment was starting to frustrate me. Sure, it is great that employers are so lax about rules and regulations, but it also means that quite often you do not get to understand the fine print until much later in the game. I never even saw or signed a contract whilst at Quest! And had they been up front with me and taken the time to take me through the work requirements and long term employment plan, I would have been able to save myself from diving into another disappointment. After a week of sulking and sending endless e-mails to what seemed like a gazillion businesses, companies, organisations, you-name-it, I decided that it was time to go for a different approach. The sectors which were "absolutely" and "immediately" going to get me a job, because of my "incredible" language and people skills turned out to be a dead end. And in all honesty, I was getting sick and tired of hearing people's nonsense of how "easy" it would be for me to find something as well as the cliché "you will be fine" and "everything will be alright". Do you have an omniscient glass ball I am not aware of? No? Well, then quit feeding me false hope! And so I went for the one thing which seemed impossible ("too many laws", "too many restrictions", "you do not possess the right qualifications") and chased my dream of being an early childhood teacher/ educator...
Armed with a full case-study including a CV, a personally addressed cover letter, printed references glorifying my existence and copies of every possible document, I began my career hunt and stormed into every childcare centre in Darwin and suburbs. Being able to hand in a complete file really worked to my advantage as it stressed how serious I was about this. Within a few weeks I had landed myself interviews at the best childcare centres in Australia, one in particular which I had set my eyes on for months but could not previously get through to. Euphoria!
Unfortunately, neither of my interviews could be scheduled for that same week, so there was another week of anxious thumb-twiddling awaiting me. And once the interview with my favoured childcare centre was done, dusted and successful, I was challenged to a bureaucratic conundrum, with another long waiting time, which is still in full swing today...
But... - and there is in fact a very happy "but" to this story - I can now at last let you all in on the fact that very soon, I too will be a working woman! More details on where, what, why, how, and so on will follow once everything is set in stone. There is still a slight chance that things will go pear shaped, but I am obviously hoping that I at last struck the right chord! We shall see! One thing is certain, never take someone's word when it comes to job-hunting or anyone who utters the words "you'll be fine"! I learnt that much!
Much love, a very happy Emilie xxx