Parents, guardians, caregivers… They are amazing, and in the afterglow of Mother’s Day (I was a good daughter, I sent a card and everything), I’ve started to think back to when I was applying to placements and how supportive my parents were.
They did nothing but encourage me throughout this process – and I loved them for it. My Mum was always just a phone call away, day and (mostly) night, to help me with last minute tweaks with my CV and cover letter.
Now, this may come as a shock to some parents (so you may want to sit down) – you don’t know everything. It’s okay, take some deep breaths.
I say this because there came a point where I had to ask my Mum to take a step back. Yes, she was very helpful and supportive, but at some point along the way, I think she forgot that I was technically an adult now, and she couldn’t hold my hand all the way through the process.
I had an interview with a company based in Holland and I was extremely nervous – I’d already messed up because I’d accidentally sent my template cover letter instead of the real one (including all my notes on where to expand and explain!). So you can imagine, this was my first Skype interview and I knew I really had to prove myself. My Mum was fantastic; she gave me with tips, helped set up Skype and testing the computer and microphone. But this was where she should have left me too it.
Instead, she sat in the corner of the room, out of sight but not out of mind.
She kept making hand signals and gestures as I answered questions and wrote big signs which were illegible in my panic of attempting to answer in a coherent manner.
Overall, the interview was a little weird – they took me on a tour of the building by walking the computer round with them. My Mum told me I should have pretended I was on a roller-coaster (um, no). It made me realise this wasn’t the company I wanted to work with. I didn’t get the job in the end, and their reason was because I was “too polite”. My Mum said it was because of the roller-coaster (um, no).
I vowed never to have my Mum near me again on an interview.
That vow was short lived as I needed to go to London for my interview with Red Apple Creative on the same day my Mum had a meeting in town. So there we were, on the train together, making our way to Tottenham Court Road. In her defence, she was just trying to be helpful, giving tips and tricks she picked up from her many years working. What my Mum forgets though, is that in the Creative Industries, things are different than in the world of business suits and briefcases. She dropped me off at the hotel door and told me she’d meet me in an hour in a coffee shop down the road, as anything less probably wasn’t a good sign. So in I went and took a seat.
I met with with the Audiobook Production Manager and, it turns out, we’re both bibliophiles – well, you have to be to be working in the audiobook industry. We spoke about the books we were reading and what we loved about them. We talked about the books I’d studied at University and my role as a Saturday Library Assistant. I had some questions of my own (of course!) which included ‘when would I hear if I had the job?’
‘Well,’ Alys told me, ‘I’d like to offer it to you now, if that is okay with you?’
Yes. Yes it was perfectly okay with me. I left the hotel and went to tell my Mum the good news – even though I’d only been gone about 25 minutes. I walked in, she looked up at me and said, ‘Sorry darling, maybe next time.’ She couldn’t believe it when I told her that not only had the interview gone really well, but I’d been offered the job on the spot. She treated me to a milkshake after that.
Now, the point of my story is not to say my Mum wasn’t helpful, or didn’t know what she was talking about; she did. As I mentioned before, she was incredibly helpful in making my CV perfect, my cover letter top notch and raising my confidence as high as it could be. She helped me tame my nerves, helped me come across well to a potential employer and come up with questions I wanted to ask in my interviews.
But Mum, I’m a grown woman now, and there is only so much I can do holding your hand.
So my advice to you all is, if your parents are as involved as my Mum was, perhaps offer them a gentle reminder that you have got this. You are a student, who has made the decision that you want to do a placement year and you are going to be amazing. Of course they want to be there, cheering you on, but they can’t play the game for you!
Mum and Dad (if you read this), thank you so much for all the help, support, advice and guidance you give. You made me the person confident and capable enough to take on a Placement Year – you are amazing. But thank you for letting me achieve this on my own, like the adult I’m supposed to be.