My working life didn’t always look glorious! I am the first one to admit it when I work with my new clients and hear about their doubts, worries and sometimes even the shame they feel when working in low-paying jobs. I used to work in all sorts of so-called “inglorious” jobs from dishwasher, cashier to factory packer. If it was possible for me to jump from a kitchen porter to finance manager, why wouldn’t it be possible for you to follow your dreams?
Jump #1 – from kitchen porter to hand-match table assistant in a factory
This jump was a powerful moment for me. Although my English was still fairly bad, I realised something valuable while washing dishes. There are jobs where my English wasn’t necessary to earn better income. All I needed was a job without a smelly apron that would support me while studying towards my Cambridge ESOL certificates.
I identified factory work as one of those opportunities. And instead of sending hundreds of applications I registered with a local agency that was recruiting factory workers. The young lady who registered me was rather curious “So what is it that you are actually looking for?” To be honest I didn’t care much about the work but what I cared about was that it wouldn’t be very tiring and the job would give me the opportunity to attend the evening English classes.
“OK, we’ll contact you when something comes up.” A few weeks later just as I registered for my English classes I got a call from the agency. “Are you available to start on Monday in a local printing factory?
“Of course!” I responded hiding my excitement (I could jump up and down). “Great, in that case you’re starting as a hand-match table assistant on Monday”. Hand-match table assistant was a “posh” word for a factory worker who was sticking cards (imagine Boots advantage/loyalty card or similar type of plastic card) on pre-printed letters for smaller batches that couldn’t be operated on machines. In reality it meant being a part of women’s circle sitting around the table and gossiping while sticking cards.
While this may not seem like any significant career victory, it was a miracle for me. It was just what I needed at the time … job where I didn’t have to talk much with plenty of space to work towards improving my language skills.
Jump #2 – from hand-match table assistant to accounts assistant
And so almost for one year I was entertaining myself at work by sticking cards. Luckily there is not much that can go wrong when you’re matching cards and letters. As long as I matched the card and letter with the right name, I kept my daily performance up and consistent I was not going to get fired.
I used every opportunity to become better in English – from coffee breaks to studying on the bus while commuting to and from work. I remember asking my fellow co-workers to explain the words I couldn’t understand. I managed to turn our hand-match table team into a small English class. I remember my Italian colleague saying “Adriana, are you sure you’re attending the right English class because I’ve not heard any of those words you’re learning in my entire life … !?“ We had fun!
Within a year I completed the course, got my Cambridge certificates in English and Business English but I still didn’t feel confident to pursue more challenging job opportunities. Until one party …
My colleague from IT department Matt organised a birthday party. Coincidently, his girlfriend was my class mate so I too got invited … after a few drinks the brave question popped up “What are you doing at the factory? You don’t seem to belong there …?“ “Well, my English simply isn’t good enough to get more qualified work” I responded full of doubt.
But that didn’t seem to stop Matt “Well, so what did you do before in Slovakia or what could you imagine doing?” And as it happens after a few drinks, I got more courage and the word accounting came out like nothing. “Well, great! Send me your CV and we’ll see what you can do about it!”
I found the course. It was opening in just a few weeks. I registered and I handed in a resignation letter. I left the factory and set myself on a mission – I was ready to do what it takes to fast track my career in finance. I landed my first accounting jobs in four months since resigning …
It was a rollercoaster journey and exciting story that I will happily share with my grandchildren one day … and with you in my next blog.
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Author: AdriAna Kosovska
Professional and certified coach & founder of ZERO TO DREAM JOB ACADEMY
I work with employees, couples and organisations that care about
Stress reduction | Talents and strengths development | Dream job