For any of those still in the academic system and are desperately attempting to get into to uni or acquire a job you’ll be well acquainted with CV building and the joys of work experience. For the lucky few you’ll land some brilliant experience where you’re welcomed in as part of the team and get to do some really amazing stuff. For the less fortunate you end up the office slave for the week and gain intimate knowledge of stuffing and sealing envelopes. Having taken part in a lot of work experience through the years, I’ve done both kinds of placements – some where infinitely better than others.
I worked in a elderly care home for while, pushing the tea trolley around the rooms. Pros? Some residents are very sweet, telling you stories of the ‘good old days’ and give you sweeties. Cons? You have no clue where said sweets come from and therefore can’t eat them and some of the residents are, well, sort of creepy – the ladies get confused either thinking you’re their daughter or ‘some lady of the night here to steal her husband with her whoring ways’ and the gents ask you to sit on their knee or call you an English rose (normally I’d think this sweet but when a 93 year old man leers it at you whilst staring at your arse, its sweetness is somewhat diminished…)
I also worked in a children’s charity admin office once – I loved the kids and their families, even my boss but after folding and stuffing paperwork into over 300 envelopes only to be told they’d given me the wrong pamphlet and I had to re-stuff them all, the week did drag on a bit.
But in more recent years I’ve done more medically related work experience as I’m hoping to gain work in the healthcare sector. Now anyone in the field will know that there are some, *cough cough wink wink*, rather amusing stories gained from working in a hospital. From working in Radiology and having to X-ray someone who “accidently fell on a toilet brush which then got stuck up their bum”… to debating with the staff about the relationship status of a 90-year old man and his 30-something female friend after listening to them talking about her getting him naked…..
You do meet some very, interesting, people in a hospital though – some of the staff are absolutely lovely but you do meet the odd person who thinks and acts as if they’re much better than you, but then you get that in any work setting. There are a couple of things you have to get comfortable with in order to survive though –
- Nakedness – when you’re dealing with health and fixing peoples’ bodies you’re going to see a lot of naked people. Everyone reacts differently in these situations – some laugh out of awkwardness, some get ridiculously uncomfortable, some rather like it (ewww) and others (such as myself) don’t really mind the nakedness but panic about what their face looks like and whether people think they’re uncomfortable. To deal with this you need to work on your poker face and act professional – if you give off the air of not caring they’re naked and that you’ve seen it all before then you should be fine…just don’t stare at certain places for a great lengths of time…Also Top Tip do not, I repeat do not, do this sort of experience with a family friend – I did it with a friend of my brother’s and ended up having to watch a male genitalia check up…I have never heard the last of it!! Family friends + nakedness = mortifying experiences which should be avoided at all costs.
- Scrubs – if you’re over 18 and get theatres experience you’re going to wear scrubs. There are various problems with this. Firstly get ones that fit! Trust me when I say walking around with huge scrubs that you have to slyly pull up every 2 minutes is not attractive. And secondly the Crocs!! You have to wear either special trainers or the guilty pleasure we love to hate, Crocs. Top Tip #2 bring socks with you – borrowing someone’s Crocs for the day is bad enough but doing it bare foot is awful. On my first day I failed to do this, oh how I would come to regret this. One of the junior doctors asked if I’d like to go on a cardiac arrest run if his pager went off to which I of course replied yes! When it did happen though we had to run to the other side of the hospital and me with my short legs and my bare feet a size too small for the Crocs I was wearing was not a good combination and I ended up looking like a really slow idiot puffing away down the halls!
- Ward Rounds – ward rounds tend to go on a while, of course if its a massive ward it can go on for hours. Whatever you do make sure you eat loads and find drinks on a regular basis. On one placement they fed me chocolate and gave me coffee as we walked around and I ended up having a great time. At another place the person I was following did not give a shit and I spent over 5 hours trailing her around in a 30 odd degree ward, standing up the whole time having not eaten or drunk anything in over 8 hours…not being used to this kind of thing I had to sneak off to find water before I fainted and then re-join the group. They didn’t notice. Joy.
- Wear Comfy shoes – you’re going to be standing and walking around. A lot. So wear something comfortable!
- Get good at hiding your emotions and thoughts – you’re going to see some really gross things, some really smelly people, disgusting people, arrogant/obnoxious people, so you need to keep your disgust on the down low!!
As the work experience you need to be prepared for just about anything – from people get odd things stuck in inappropriate places to women who wander around the hospital, use the loo in reception as they think they’re desperate for a wee but end up giving birth in the toilet bowl. True story. It’s not all bad/weird though, I got to watch some amazing operations including major heart surgery and sometimes they let you do things (nothing major though, work experience doing surgery is generally frowned upon 🙂 ).
Whatever you end up doing, whether it’s in a hospital or in a marketing office I’m sure you’ll have the odd story to tell – and anyway it’s another thing for the CV!
If you have a story please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!