Career First Steps. Why Experience Matters
Last week at the university we spoke about career theories and metaphors. We had debates about what is a career – any job you take or when you have long-term plans about the chosen role. It is still an open question that everyone has own answer to. Today I Want to Share how my Career Began…
I started working at the age of 15 as a promoter for Coca-Cola in Sochi during summer school holidays. I met great friends for life there, realised what I am capable of at at that stage and how cool it is to make your own money. From the first salary I bought a super warm coat to take with me back to Arkhangelsk, the far northern town in Russia where I grew up. Arkhangelsk has freezing winters with negative 30-35 degrees C.
Next 2-3 summers I helped in a mobile network firm to enter data when people signed-up for the service — that’s how I learnt to type very quickly. I don’t even have to look at my keyboard to type! Also I happened to work 4-5 days at coffee shop and realised that even here I can make quick cash and earn appreciation through tips. I got a comment that was quite funny too — I was too fast to serve, which is unusual for Sochi and was taken as if I was in rush. When I left I never worked in a bar again.
I went through a stage of being a nanny in London, working with a bunch of mixed families. They would even leave me with their kids for a week whilst they flew back to their home country. Being a student that time at the age of 18 — at the university in Russia and at the language school in the UK — I was allowed to work about 10 hours a week.
Deep inside I was never certain where exactly I was heading with my career or work experience, however, I trusted the opportunities given to me and always believed they would help to build a useful skill set to apply to the future. I didn’t know much about the skills or career paths, but I knew I had to trust myself and dream big. My dad would always tell me “aim higher than what you think to take on board.”
After one year of being a nanny I returned to Sochi and decided in spite of my law studies, to enter the journalism field. It came to me as a deep emotion that is difficult to articulate. At the university, I joined a writing club to get some articles tested and published. My first one was about procrastination, at the age of 19. I received support, experience and confidence even though in terms of understanding what I was doing, I was taking my very first steps. I was curious and had to be brave. There was no way that I was stepping back or returning to Arkhangelsk.
After a few jobs working PR for a TV musical project similar to Britain’s Got Talent, I had several published articles and two offers to work on TV. But life happened and I had to fly to London due to family circumstances and continue my studies over there. I continued working online for a newspaper and websites as a content writer, but I can’t help feel as though I missed out on some important career opportunities.
Two years passed in London before I flew back to Russia to finish my university, learn yoga in India and get certified as a yoga teacher. At this time, I also started my own poetry reading project inspired by Patti Smith and her book Just Kids. It was time to amplify all of my previous experience, mobilise my skills, get myself out of the comfort zone and perform.
Fear of Public Speaking
I had a fear of public speaking and presentations — my throat would go dry, my palms wet and my voice disappear — it was a phobia. And it dragged my attention to make a new goal to face and beat it. It was my own game to play. I signed up for a conference at the university to present a work on UK education system in comparison to Russian, after a month I organised a poetry night together with two colleagues of mine, participated in a number of local events, practiced on delivering my final thesis, went to the yoga school to become a yoga teacher which also involves working with the audience and so on. Now public performance is one of my favourite art mediums.
I believe we drag all previous experiences with us and they eventually help us to make better decisions. Many experiences stay at a subconscious level in the forms of gut feelings and intuitions. I am glad and thankful for all the experience I have had so far because it guided me later where to head and gave understanding how to continue my career.
Career first steps. Why Experience Matters.