The First Job Nightmare


Is the first always the worst?

I have just been offered a new job, well to be more accurate, my second ever real job. I loved the interview, the officials were fantastic and funny. But to explain why I’m not completely excited and raring to go with this job, I have to take you back a few months…

…To my first job

I had an interview for a Teaching Assistant Placement, and by the time I got home I had a phone call with a job offer. Although it wasn’t with the age group I’d applied for I thought to myself ‘fantastic, a job’, and took it immediately.

When I turned up for work I received no instruction, training or explanation. Instead a building was pointed out to me and I was told to go there. When I got to the door I realised it was coded. No one had given me a code. I had no contract. So, in the classroom I did anything and everything I could.

I didn’t particularly enjoy Early Years, but I didn’t let that effect my interaction with the children. The only blunt flaw I can recognise honestly was my unwillingness to go into the staff room at lunch.

And then there was a pair of wellies.

A young child couldn’t find them, so the class teacher asked me to help with the hunt. I didn’t know another Teaching Assistant was also on the trail. I found them, and she doubted they were genuine so I lifted them over the child’s head to show her.

This sounds inconsequential and just an average part of an Early Years Classroom Assistant’s day. But then I walked back into the classroom and saw this same TA doing a derogatory mocking impression of me.

I was shocked, first trying to convince myself it wasn’t me she was doing an impression of. I knew it was.

I made the decision that I would wait until all the children had gone home and then confront her on it. I would ask whether I had upset her and let her vent and explain. I would then apologise and explain that I never meant to make her feel however it was I made her feel.

That is how I wanted it to go.

This is how it went…

“Hi, sorry. Have I annoyed you?”

“Yes, and if you keep talking to me I’m going to slap you around the face”

I nearly fell over. I immediately apologised even though I had no clue what had made her feel so violent. I tried to find out by asking a few times, but her friend warned me off by telling me she would follow through on her consistent repeated threat of ‘a smack’.

I knew deep down that this was the end of this job. How can you work alongside a woman that wants to hit you and another that supports her?

They left me standing in the car park. I started crying. I phoned my dad who told me to immediately report it because she couldn’t speak to me like that.

I went into the office quite hysterical, which I regret. The Deputy Head took me into the office and got me a tissue and a drink and explained that I shouldn’t act like that in front of a parent. I apologised. Then the Head Teacher turned up and repeated the same reprimand three times making me finally say, ‘look, I said I was sorry’.

I told him what had happened, and to shorten his response it consisted of two main phrases;

‘You need to learn to be more mature in an adult workplace’

‘You should go home and spend the weekend self-reflecting’

I left as my dad said he was outside to pick me up. I told him what had been said and he asked my permission to go in and listen to Head Teacher himself. I think he believed I was missing something out.

Another choice phrase from the Leader of a Primary School:

‘We don’t know what was actually said yet’

I quit.

Now, I’ve been offered this new job. Everything about the job itself and the application process has been completely different. And so was I.

During the interview for that first job I was incredibly posh, prim and efficient. It made me nervous to be myself when I started. This interview began with the male member of staff making a joke about my name and so I thought ‘I’m just going to be myself, sarcasm and all’. It went very well. But I didn’t expect to be qualified enough for the position.

I got the email yesterday with the job offer and contract in black and white.

I’m petrified it will be a repeat of the first time.

I don’t want to quit a job with an official title, in a university setting, doing something I think I will genuinely enjoy.

Fingers crossed my first job was the worst.