Work Experience

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First of all, what another ridiculously busy week. We did some more gardening at the weekend and I dug another path before filling it with bark! We decided not to dig the semi-circle we discussed last week as this may have been too much bark for one garden.

I also borrowed a friends petrol strimmer and had some fun with that, what a beast! When I first went to use it, however, the throttle didn’t work didn’t work so I couldn’t use it. Now, I don’t know what’s got in to me recently because I’m usually crap with any form of manual labour, especially fixing things like this, I usually just ring my dad. This time, though, I decided to take it apart and see what was the matter and believe it or not (in fact, I still don’t believe it) I fixed it!! The best part is that the strimmer has different tools to put on the end so I also borrowed the hedge trimmer attachment. This was extremely dangerous but very cool. I managed to chop our conifers into a square(ish) shape without hurting anybody or even losing a body part.

Anyway, enough of my garden and on to work. As you can probably guess from the title coupled with the fact that I’m too old to do work experience myself, this week we have had a lovely young adolescent male join our team to do some “work experience”. This is usually something that neither the 15 year old student that is forced in to it and the willing employer that has taken them on, don’t particularly want to do. Well, in my experience this is the case and it isn’t the first time we’ve done it. To be honest, though, our office is actually a pretty good place to go on work experience if you like IT as we cover almost every aspect you can think of. We are also first line, second line, and even advanced technical support rolled in to one!

So Monday morning came and when I got to work I learnt that my manager, Steve, wasn’t going to be in that day, he had an ill child to take care of and was “working” from home. Brilliant, this left the 4 of us to come up with a work plan and give our school boy something to do without the direction of a manager. Saying that, most of the things we do are without the direction of a manager (I hope he doesn’t read this!). So at 9:30, the lad arrives and introduces himself as Alex. But I’m not going to call him Alex. I’m going to call him Axel. This is mainly because of the extremely long hair that spouted from his head but also because of his rock ‘n’ roll personality that was filled with angst.

The first thing we got him to do was build a laptop (as in installing Windows and our corporate apps, not physically making one!). We always set this task for a work experience bod as it’s a good but basic IT experience and usually takes the best part of a day to do. Not Axel, though, he was still working on it mid morning on Tuesday. Anyway, going back to Monday, my colleague, Warren, asked Axel on at least four occasions whether he’d like to come with him and do something (IT related, of course). I managed to witness two of these instances…

Warren: “Axel, there’s a problem with the MFD* on the first floor. Do you want to come upstairs with me and take a look?”
Axel: “Er, I’m ok, I’ll just wait down here.”
*an MFD is a Multi Function Device or basically a printer/scanner/photocopier

Warren: “Axel, I’ve got to install some more memory in someone’s computer as it’s running really slow. Do you want to come with me?”
Axel: “Er, where is it?”
Warren: “It’s just over at our offices next door, literally a 1-2 minute walk.”
Axel: “Er, no I’m ok, it’s a bit cold outside. I’ll just wait here.”

I was speechless, I mean shouldn’t a 15 year old boy on work experience do what he is told/asked? I felt like saying “Axel, when somebody asks you if you’d like to go and do something, they are politely saying ‘come with me, we are going to do this’, it’s not really a negotiation”. Luckily my manager said exactly this when he came back on Tuesday… Obviously Steve was filled in with what Axel was like so he tried it himself; he told Axel that he had to go next door to let an engineer in to the server room to install a new phone line and asked if he’d like to go with him. Surprisingly enough, Axel didn’t want to and replied with “Er, no I’m ok, it’s raining outside, I’ll just wait here”.

When Steve got back, he had a chat with Axel. He asked him what he’d like to get out of work experience. “Er,” was his reply. To be fair to the kid, he did admit that there was nothing left on the work experience list that he wanted to do so he was practically “pushed” into doing this. So Steve asked if their was any aspect of IT that he was interested in and Axel said that he liked learning about the insides of computers and how they work. This was instantly shot down with the fact he declined the offer from Warren to open up a computer and put some more RAM in it. The next question was what did Axel wanted to do in life, what career did he want to pursue. The answer to this was shocking. He said…

“I don’t know. I don’t really want to prepare myself and learn about something if when I start a job, it’s not what I want to do.”

Isn’t that basically a scapegoat for everything, for school even?!? This kid clearly didn’t have a future in mind… In the end, Steve basically told him to go home and think about what he wanted to get out of this experience and what he wanted to achieve. Then, to come back the next day with the appropriate enthusiasm and willingness to do things or not bother coming back.

Today was the next day. At 9:05 this morning, Steve got a call from HR. They had received a call from Axel’s mum saying that he came home a bit stressed last night and this morning he’s got a headache so he wont be coming in, I’m guessing that it will be a 3 day headache and that he won’t be back all week.

You may be thinking that we were a little harsh on the kid but what were we supposed to do? I mean, I’m happy to help someone who wants to learn and get a good experience from something but when you have a boy like Axel who just doesn’t want to do anything while on work experience (or with his life for that matter) then it’s best all around that we don’t waste each others time…

Anyway, I’m glad to say that I have this Friday off work as we are going to a wedding in Manchester. It’s a bit of a drive to go to a wedding but seeing as we’ve had to pay for two nights in a hotel, I’m hoping it will be a good weekend!