When I signed up to be a Games Maker last summer, I wasn't thinking beyond the amazing opportunity to be part of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The experience has been so much more to me than a summer of great memories - it's given me the chance to earn a nationally recognised qualification, boost my employability and get back on the career ladder.
Applying to be a Games Maker was always no brainer. I'm a huge athletics fan and I love Jessica Ennis! I knew I'd never have the chance to be involved in something as big as the Olympics again and I would have regretted it forever if I hadn't taken the opportunity to volunteer.
During the Games, I worked in security at the Stratford entrance to the Park. I welcomed people, answered queries, spotted fraudulent tickets and worked closely with the army. It was hard work with long hours, but there was a fantastic atmosphere in the Park and the experience was amazing. I even got to do some celebrity spotting, seeing the likes of Eddie Izzard and Linford Christie coming into the Park.
The Olympics came at just the right time for me. I'd taken voluntary redundancy from my job working in immigration for the Home Office earlier in the year and was on a bit of a career break. I was still trying to work out what to do next, when I was given the opportunity to take the Level 2 City & Guilds Award in the Principles of Customer Service qualification, created and funded by McDonald's especially for Games Makers.
I jumped at the chance to add to my CV and have my hard work recognised. The qualification involved an online learning module and short exam, on top of the training in customer service and volunteering I did as a Games Maker. I was really proud when I passed, and decided to apply for jobs in customer service using my new skills.
With this great experience behind me, it wasn't long before I found a job that was right for me. I was lucky enough to secure a customer service job at the Post Office soon after I qualified and I've now been working there for more than seven months. Being a people person, this job is just right for me!
I could never have done this without my Games Maker experience. My previous jobs had all been office-based, so I hadn't had any experiencing of dealing with the public, but during the Olympics I was on the front line, dealing with people from all over the world and making sure they were happy. My qualification really helped me to prove my newfound customer service skills to my employer. In my job interview, my new employers were really interested in my time at the Olympics and asked lots of questions, so I know it helped me to stand out.
I'm very proud to be one of the 3,000 Games Makers who have boosted their employability by taking the qualification McDonald's created for us. My Olympics experience gave me memories to last a lifetime, improved my confidence and gave me new skills. Even better, it also helped me get a great job and I never thought I would be saying that when I first signed up!