So you’re wanting to know a bit more about my professional life? Well, this is going to be a little bit more detailed than my CV, but not quite as long as my future autobiography – It’s going to be called ‘Alan! Alan! Alan!’ (you should see why from this video) – so sit tight and enjoy!
My working life started at 13 when, like many young people, I got a paper round at my local post office. For one year, I got up six days a week at 6am and delivered papers to our village. At 14 I started Seminary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which started a 7am, so I passed my paper round onto my younger sister.
Since finishing my paper round and then leaving school in 2009 I’ve done quite a range of jobs. To add another cliché to the site, I’ve learnt something from each experience. I left The St Lawrence Academy (formerly High Ridge Specialist Sports College) with my English and maths GCSEs, along with a bunch of others like science, additional science, physics (they really pushed the sciences on us). During my final year at school, I was honoured to be Head Boy where I began to take my first real responsibilities of communicating between students and staff, organising prefect rotas and speaking in whole school assemblies. All of this was done working alongside the Head Girl.
College and part-time jobs
I went on to study philosophy, psychology, politics and P.E. at John Leggott College. After one year I decided, rightly or wrongly, that traditional education wasn’t the route that best suited me. I started my second year but soon left to continue my part-time work as a bartender at a busy town centre bar and sales assistant at SportsDirect.com. It is during this time that I started to understand hard work. Weekends were the hardest. I would work an afternoon shift at Sports Direct, finishing at 6pm, then head straight to the bar where I cleaned and prepared for opening at 8pm.
Closing time was 3am and that’s when I would close up, ushering out the last few customers, having a quick clean and convincing the DJ to teach me how to DJ (it took 8 persistent months before he agreed). However, come 8am Saturday morning, I was back at Sports Direct, ready to do a morning shift. Luckily, I had the afternoon off before I had to make my way back into town for a busy Saturday night at the bar.
My first adult job
Whilst I enjoyed these two jobs very much, I knew they weren’t really the careers I wanted to take. I was excited in October 2011 when I had my first interview for a full-time job as a groundskeeper/security officer at Wren Kitchens and Bedrooms and I was fortunate enough to start work there just two weeks later. Now granted, this too wasn’t a career I could see myself in forever. However, I knew that this was a stepping stone to something along the lines of what I wanted to do… Office work.
After my first month, I started to reach out to people who worked in the factory and the office to get to know them and so they could get to know me. It wasn’t long after this that I was then asked to cover someone else’s shift on the factory floor unloading a paint delivery. I did this, no problem. This was my stepping stone into the factory. From here I worked in stock checking, delivery supervisor, machine operator, production supervisor, until finally a job came open for me – A buyer.
Alan the Buyer
It seemed perfect. I was analytical, I was very capable to spreadsheets and I loved talking to people. I was thrilled when I was offered it and worked extremely hard. I learnt more during my time as a buyer than at any other time in my life. I learnt how to negotiate internally, how to communicate with staff from factory works and managers, all the way up to the managing director. I developed my knowledge of spreadsheets, learnt about formulae that I didn’t know existed and how to analyse data and make decisions based on them. But most importantly, I learnt about working long, tiring hours. At just 19 I was the only buyer in the factory.
Responsible for 0ver 300 products, I was often required to work 14 hour days and the occasional weekend. It got to the point where if I wasn’t doing at least 10 hours, it didn’t feel like I was really working hard enough. Unfortunately, this sort of work/life balance wasn’t something that a 19-year-old could keep up and in May 2013 I wasn’t able to keep up with the demand.
Adventure to York
I left my hometown in Scunthorpe just two weeks after and moved to York to live with my brother. During this time I borrowed books from the library on marketing and business and found a job at McDonalds to keep me going. Not long after, I got a job with a direct sales company in Leeds. I’d never been a salesman, so stopping people on the street to ask if they want to buy makeup (yes, they had me selling makeup…) was really hard for me.
This all-commission role wasn’t sustainable for me. After just four weeks I had to say sorry and headed back home to live with my parents. I might not have become the master salesman they wanted me to be, but there’s no doubt that I learnt a lot from this experience. I’d developed more confidence, learnt basic sales techniques and had learnt the importance of maintaining a good attitude. These are things that have stuck with me to this day.
The great return/re-return
Back home, I spent my week working with my brother-in-law window cleaning. On weekends, I worked in my old bar on a night and Co-operative food with my other brother-in-law. These three jobs helped me stay on my feet, but the whole time I was itching to get back to York and find the job I really wanted. So in early 2013, I was thrilled to be invited to City of York Council for an interview as a level 2 business admin apprentice within the York Learning team (adult education). I started not long later, at the beginning of March.
I got stuck into this role straight away my re-writing all of the course guides and marketing material. After this huge task that took me my entire first month, I began asking about who managed their social media channels. I was keen to learn more about using social media for business and saw this as my way in. Sure enough, as the youngest person in the team, they were happy to let me take over. I developed their Facebook page and Twitter account, re-writing the about section, updating profile pictures and banner images to fit the brand.
I began to build up their mailing list and track bookings from the fortnightly emails and then reported this to management. As well as this, I worked alongside the customer service team, enrollment team and became actively involved in advocating for apprenticeships across York. This continued after my apprenticeship when I was kept on with York Learning as an e-services coordinator.
This role had the added responsibility of managing our multiple websites, as well as the development of a brand new site. I purchased a WordPress theme and used my self-taught knowledge of HTML CSS and website design principles to create a new website to be used for marketing purposes. I coordinated between curriculum managers to ensure all of the information that needed to be on the site was on and that it was correct.
During my two years here, I was also able to promote multiple community art projects and ambitiously coordinate the filming of our first ever York Learning Christmas video. In fact, it was the first ever York Learning video. I would go on to film other videos and use them to enhance our digital presence.
Since I’ve been at the City of York council, I’ve used my evenings, weekends and even some annual leave to learn more and gain experience in digital marketing and social media. I set up Social Wave Media as a business for my freelancing work. I’ve worked with small businesses across York to develop social media strategies and advise and train them how to use it. I’ve built multiple WordPress sites using themes and provided training to small businesses. I’m also actively involved in the running of www.beinsync.co.uk; a news and media website. I’m currently writing the marketing strategy for five events held over five consecutive weekends in five cities.
If that wasn’t enough, on of May I set up www.ohmydeals.co.uk to showcase local restaurant deals across York and Leeds. I’ve created a website, marketing and business plans, as well as networked with restaurant owners to discuss the idea. Feedback has been positive and I look forward to seeing where this website goes over the next 12 months. It will officially be launching in September 2016 to catch the students coming back to university.
So, that’s a not-so-brief work history of me. Writing it all up for the first time really makes me proud of the things that I have achieved. I really look forward to reviewing this again in the next few months to see where life has taken me. Don’t forget, I would absolutely love the chance to chat with you. So please do feel free to get in touch and find me on social media. You could even head across to my blog and take a read there if you’d like?