13 Feb 2013

Achieving one's potential

I've been trying to find the words to say how I am feeling about my work at the moment, but they are not forthcoming.

I have worked at Caffe Nero for more than six years now. I first got the job when I decided to leave university before completing my nursing degree. Not becoming a nurse was something I never regret, I knew I was not good at the job, I found the human biology interesting but that was about all. When I got the job it was meant to be an interim, whilst I figured out what I did want to do.

I found I was great at my job, unashamedly, although it just came to me so easily it just seemed common sense to me (this does cause problems for me when other people struggle with the job, I can't understand their difficulty). I was running my own shop a little more than a year after I started.

Management did not come so easily. I cared too much about what people thought of me, did everything I could to keep my staff happy and didn't really care for the numbers. Yet as is inevitable, at times my staff hated me, as a manager you shoulder the blame for everything they dislike about the job and I couldn't deal with it. When I became pregnant I was thrilled, not just because we were having a baby, but because I was more than ready to leave. I hoped I wouldn't have to return but there was no way we could afford that!

Maternity leave was good for me though. I was ready to go back and when I did I was actually pleased to have some days off from being a mummy. I now work as an assistant manager in a really busy shop. I am a much better number two, although I have realised I was a much better manager than I gave myself credit for at the time. My new boss is great we get on so well, think so alike but also have different priorities, I do the people side, he does the numbers! I can't say how much I enjoy working with him, I now love my job again.

I just have one issue, the pay. I get £7 an hour. To try and describe everything I have to do in one shift it would last pages. Customers often treat us like we are stupid because of the job we do, but I think few people could do it well. You need to be able to do about 100 things at once. We always run on minimum staff so my time is divided between loads of tasks whilst making sure everything I can't do is being done by someone else! It's all second nature to me now though, my colleagues think I'm a genius problem solver but I've just had everything happen before! I know I deserve more pay but I'm being unrealistic.

I would love to be able to move on, do a job that challenges me more. I dream of being an event planner, I'm not sure what; live music, weddings, conferences, fundraising..... and I know I would be good at the job and have many transferable skills, but how many people would look at my CV and think that? How can I leave a job that is so flexible with my hours so I can do what is best for our family? I would probably have to travel meaning that in an entry level job I would probably have less take home. Would it be better to do a degree to have a chance of a higher level job?

I can't answer these questions at the moment and I don't feel ready to leave Nero, but that may just be fear of the unknown. If anyone would like to hire me freelance to plan a party I wouldn't say no though!


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