What can i say…it feels good to be back here! I’ve been gone(as usual) for like 3 weeks now or thereabouts and I’ve missed my page! First of all, your’s truly has been searching for a job so i’ve been going for interviews like there’s no tomorrow…how come no one ever tells you how difficult it is to find a job in London before you haul ass and move over here? Its damn frustrating man. Anyways, so i was looking for a job, and yes…i definitely found one! I saw this ad in one of those recruitment mags, i cant mention the name here anyway or can i? nevermind. So, there’s the ad; ‘a budding company in London in the process of expansion looking for managers for its new branches’….are u kidding me? it was too good to be true, being a student and all, i really wasnt actually looking for anything to big…like a graduate job that would take up all my time. At present, I’m still struggling to get a few lines in my dissertation (trust me, you do not wanna go there!), I’ll probably tell you all about that soon, basically, what i was looking for was an average job, 3-4 days a week maybe and 25 hours tops but hey, here was a better opportunity and being the greedy African that i am, i jumped at it.
At this point, i think i should warn fellow job surfers out there to be very wary of job adverts that do not tell you specifically the name of the company, what they are into, the job specifications and requirements. In short, save for some well known job sites, dont even think of applying for all these luscious jobs where they tell you to call some number or something…they’ve got something to hide!
So, like i was saying,I call the number and im given a brief telephone interview,i guess thats normal in some cases, and to my surprise, im told to come for an interview 2 days later! I was like wow!!!! that was fast! I set about preparing for my interview for the next few days, but that was difficult as i didnt know jack sh%**t about my prospective employees. To her credit, the lady on the phone did try to brief me on the company and what they do but the information was really vague so i just go for the interview anyways going by the directions i was given in my email (they were very efficient about things like that, infact, their HR was fantastic!). On the morning of the interview, i arrive an hour too early; a result of a lesson i learnt from my very first interview in London where i was 5 friggin minutes late and i was turned back! it wasnt even my fault, t’was traffic for crying out loud (yea, i’m still in denial and defence of myself). Anyways,back to the my interview,there i was, walking around the non descript building which looks to me more like a scene from a drug movie and i start having second thoughts….what if their thieves? what if its a scam? why werent they more open? etc etc etc. To my relief though, i met a young lady immacultely dressed who was also there for the interview. we felt so stupid when we asked each other almost at the same time what the name of the company was…i mean????
Minutes later, we enter the building and truly, it wasnt that bad…it was actually well furnished and formal…i felt better already. The first shocker came when we entered the reception to find that there were like 10 other people also waiting to be interviewed…hmm, i was intrigued…what kind of interview was this…group? practical or what? Eventually, we’re ushered into what looks like a confernce room and given a pep talk, the company’s name, what they do, visions, awards etc. At this stage, i was already becoming impressed with all i was hearing cos by all standards, this was a well to do company and i was already strategising on how to become part of this success. It even made my day more when we were told that we would be interviewed by the CEO himself! what? i was a bit nervous but i was excited too and during the interview, the guy didnt disappoint us. He was blunt, gruff, arrogant, rude and very….well, all i can say is that he defied every normal rule in the corporate world (which explained the whole process)and he just about managed to scare the hell out of us after 2 hours, but i liked him! I think he liked me as well too (wink) cos he hired me as well as 4 others out of 23 of us, we were actually told on that very day who was and who was not hired and even though i had already made up my mind not to go there again, i wanted to know why the CEO hired me that day…so i was like, maybe i am as crazy as these guys afterall, so decided to take the offer. We were to resume training the following week. Trust me, i was excited! I was actually going to have a shot at practising all that i had learnt in uni in the real life…it was fascinating. On monday, we all converged at the same conference room where the regional manager gave us an almost replica of the firing squad approach as the CEO. It was being on the ‘The Apprentice’, I was scared, nervous and wasnt sure what the hell i was doing there but i wanted to know what they were all about before i gave up. We Africans are not easily deterred as you may know so even though these guys seemed a bit eccentric, i wasn’t gonna let them scare me into giving up so easily.
We had two exams during the next few days and they never failed to remind us that we were not yet really hired until we passed the assessment period which was about 40 days, and the first 2 weeks were touted to be the most important. During the training,which was quite interesting…well, mostly because it was done mostly by an Aussie who was a bloke and i lurrrved his accent! i discovered that most of they’re activities were sales based and just when i started to withdraw cos i aint interested in doing no sales, (I’ve paid my dues there)they stated emphatically that we would not be doing sales but would be managing people involved in sales…cool!
With the third day came the knowledge that we would be required to do some field sales ourselves, they’re reasons……we had to know what the people we would be managing go through everyday to manage them effectively, which was fair enough so we went out into the field and boy…that was crazy! It wasnt as bad as i’d thought actually and in some cases, i had fun as it gave me the opportunity to visit areas of london i had never even heard of.
Along the line, i realised that this was actually what we were going to be doing during our contract with them and the supposed ‘management’ position was actually, the art of training other recruits like ourselves in the field and about the product, motivating them (more like brainwashing them) cos they kept telling us…its not what you’re doing its where you’re going. Considering the nature of the job, it would be very easy to be demotivated so they kept harping on the fact that you’ll be paid handsomely for all your hardwork provided you get them new contracts daily, not one….but two…..oh c’mon! To top it up, we were never given any payment for all our trips to the ends of the city, in short, the way i saw it, they werent interested in investing in you, if u wouldnt bring them anything….fair enough, so we had everything to lose while they……they lost nothing.
Needless to say i went for the whole of the first week cos i’ld already bought a travel card and it would be useless if i stopped going, plus i had this lovely trainer who i surprisingly started to admire a lot because she was soo strong and courageous not to mention my Aussie trainer as well (wink). Honestly, they were all a bunch of genuinely lovely people but by the end of the first week, i knew i couldnt last there, they were the exact opposite of the normal corporate world, they had unsual ways, and it was like being in a different world entirely….all this i would have forgiven them anyways if i had been given an actual management job but what the hell…..
It got me thinking though, what exactly do we mean by management? basically, from my perceptions of what we were taught at uni, it involves motivating, directing and leading others to achieve some kind of specified goals. This was exactly what these guys were doing wasn’t it? I on the other hand, had the stereotype views of an office with three or more people,where you were the head and you know…the usual.I think they were just playing on our intelligence and though i gained a lot of knowledge in the last few days…i dont think its worth my time to do anything that does not give me fulfilment or that im not happy doing no matter how much is paid to do it.