So, another week and another depressing stat, this time on youth unemployment. For the first time ever, we've topped the million mark of jobless young folk, who now manically rove the streets, armed, as we are led to believe, with a Topshop man-bag full of CVs, desperate to work for anyone who will have them, anyone who will give them a chance, anyone who will JUST, ACKNOWLEDGE, THEIR WORTHLESS, PITIFUL, EXISTENCE.
The poor sods. I remember being young(er) and desperately trying to seek my first paid job. Then when I got it desperately trying to make that blow-the-whole-office-away first impression, which inevitably led me to making a bit of a tit of myself. And so, I've compiled a list of top three do's and don'ts that should help any intern or workie or newbie to a job survive the first week or two:
1. DO ask for a tour of the company.
There is absolutely no shame in being shown around, and as one friend of mine found, it will soon enough prove essential. Three days in to the job he had still not been given a tour, and was asked to run something up to accounts. A fairly simple request, if he knew where accounts were. After two wrong turns he mistakenly walked through a drop lock door and found himself locked in the cleaners' cupboard. With no phone on him, and apparently not one passer by, he sat there as helpless as a stranded lamb until 9.30 that evening when a gaggle of foreign ladies unexpectedly unleashed him from his pen. Matters were only to get worse, as one of the cleaners took on the role of group self defence leader and floored him with her mop handle, both winding him and giving him a black eye. To top it off, his employers had called his recruitment agency to complain of his unannounced walk out, and were promptly advertising for his replacement.
2. DON'T be afraid of an awkward silence around your boss.
Sometimes they like a bit of silence, and verbal diarrhoea will NOT lead to a verbal promotion, as another friend of mine was to learn. Discovering she shared a coincidental weekend commute with the senior director, she offered him a lift home in her filthy post-Uni Golf, covered in "Jesus loves you all but I'M HIS FAVOURITE" type window stickers.
Panicked by the fear of not looking professional, and by the three hour motorway drive with the man who could make or break her career, she spontaneously subjected him to an endless cycle of lateral-thinking puzzles and general knowledge conundrums. She even tested him on ones that she'd forgotten the answer to, though quite where she thought the pay off of those would be I don't know. Apparently he insisted on being dropped off at the end of his (mile long) lane, and has never since mentioned the commute again.
3. DO act on your instinct.
If you think you should do it, then do it. Even if it goes wrong, people will admire your conviction, as one friend found out a fortnight in to her new job when she was asked to take a senior client on a site visit to Scotland. Pleased to have "made it" into the inner circle of trust, she duly flew him in to Glasgow, and escorted him from A to B to C without so much as a whisper of a hiccup.
It was the flight home, however, when things started to go wrong. Checked in and ready to go through security, he asked for one last cigarette, which she agreed to and took him outside. There they stood, smoking away, when suddenly out of absolutely nowhere she screamed at the top of her lungs "SNIPERRRR!" Not content at that, she threw her fag to the ground and floored him. She properly launched her entire body weight at him, taking his 6'1" torso down with such force that she ripped his suit. Unfortunately, Glasgow airport had just the week before been victim to a major terrorist attack, so security was, as one would imagine, tight.
Straddled on top of him, she continued to scream the S word, and sensing his confusion she clawed away at his chest, pointing out the little red dot that was aimed right at his heart. "STOP. STOOOOOPP!" shouted the client, trying to get through her screams. "THAT'S NOT A SNIPER." As she withdrew her hands from his chest to take a closer look, she looked on in utter disbelief and embarrassment as he reached for his shirt pocket, calmly saying the words "that's my BlackBerry". Three years on and several promotions later, the office still call her Jack Bauer.