Last orders at the bar! Work experience for the mature crowd

Last orders at the bar! Work experience for the mature crowd.
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Does anyone else think work experience should be available to older people?

Let me provide some context. How can we be sure we are in the right careers?

Decisions made during teenage years shaped your path

Most of us decided on futures when we were 17 or 18 (whether that be via university or straight into a job). After graduating, I spent countless hours filling out every job application I could find.

It feels like playing career Russian Roulette. Here are the jobs I came close to securing:

  • Account Executive at Noel Edmonds’ radio station.
  • Marks & Spencer Graduate Programme.
  • Sales Assistant at a rather dubious furniture shop on Edgware Road, where the interviewer asked if I could be discreet whilst giving me a suggestive wink.
  • Administrator for a London-wide lettings agency (I was actually offered this job but had an allergic reaction to some hair dye and couldn’t start).
  • Assistant to two journalists working from a basement office in Mayfair (I was deterred by the overwhelming dust and disarray).
  • Marketing Assistant for a hire boat and event company aboard the HMS Belfast.
  • Receptionist at a car television advertisement agency.
  • Call-handler for ‘This Morning’.

I frequently reflect on the serendipitous ways we find ourselves in our chosen professions.

How I became a marketer (clue: it involved alcohol)

I unexpectedly plopped into marketing after an 18-month stint as a Telephonist at a market research company. Sensing my boredom with the switchboard, the MD asked me to assist him in making some sales calls to warm prospects. This experience piqued my interest in sales and marketing, especially when he rewarded my sales performance with bottles of wine.

A young Lucy as a telephonist
A young Lucy as a Telephonist in London

By sheer luck, I secured my first snazzy marketing job in London at an ad agency. I was interviewed the day after their annual Christmas party, and the hungover Director barely questioned me, overlooking my total absence of experience. And I’d completely bonded with the PA there, as we shared our love for wine, going out, and generally being a bit mischievous. We’re still friends to this day.

I’m fortunate. I LOVE marketing. It’s exhilarating, challenging, intimidating, and unpredictable. The random turn of events that brought me here makes me feel even luckier.

But how do you all know you are in the right job?

Work experience for mature people

The notion of gaining ‘work experience’ is typically synonymous with the younger generation. Fresh graduates seeking internships or students on summer breaks are common scenarios.

But, older individuals are coming back into the workforce and are keen to experience diverse roles that perhaps they never had a chance to explore in their youth.

Lucy as a security guard
My stint as a security guard at Glastonbury (I was dreadful)

Covid-19 has made people question their life-choices

I think older individuals bring a wealth of knowledge to any role they take on. Their years of experience in different sectors, industries, and roles give them a unique perspective. This experience allows them to approach tasks with a more holistic viewpoint, understanding the broader implications of their actions and decisions.

The idea that older people are set in their ways and resistant to change is fast becoming a myth. With the changing pace of technology and the digital revolution, many older individuals are seeking out new experiences and challenges. The thought of a new job role, even if for a short period, can be exhilarating.

The appeal of ‘random jobs’

There’s a certain charm in trying out roles that are completely out of one’s comfort zone or previous career path. For instance, an ex-banker might enjoy trying out a stint as a barista, or a teacher could explore the world of musical theatre. The idea isn’t to master these roles but to experience them, to understand different industries, and to perhaps discover hidden passions or talents.

What job have you always dreamt of doing?

I often wish there existed a ‘have a go’ job scheme, where one could spend a year, with pay (admittedly, I haven’t ironed out all the details), sampling various roles.

I’m curious about the jobs you’ve secretly yearned to experience, even if just for a day. Afterward, you’d have the choice to return to your regular job. Perhaps the experience would even enhance your appreciation for it.

My secret fantasies

Personally, I’d love the opportunity to try working in a fish and chip shop, serving at a busy London pub (Pat Butcher), being a Stage Manager in the West End, serving food and drinks on the Great Western Railway (preferably in First Class), working on the London Underground, being a Paramedic, or a dancer on Top of the Pops (is that still a thing?).

I guess the point of this blog post is to say, it’s never too late. If there’s an industry you really fancy trying, contact them. Ask them for a day’s work experience.

You never know! Life’s too short to not try new things or take risks.

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