‘I had so much fun that I went back every summer for three years!’
Time for another great guest blog spot!
I think many of us will relate to Mary’s story – that initial unwillingness to think about a job or focus on our future until we really have to!
Over to you Mary:
‘At 15 I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to pursue as a career. In fact to be totally honest I could not have cared less. I was all about the here and now; fighting the pecking order to use the landline (even though I had just spent the day with my mates at school) and worry about what to wear to the next pub crawl – sorry let me rephrase that: hang out outside the pub because we were under aged and not allowed in, of course. One day my mum handed me a brochure for a sailing school down in Devon and said ‘I think you should do this’. I totally dismissed the idea – I mean, what was the point of doing that? But my mum was very clever and now, 30 years on, I am eternally grateful to her for making me do it.
Whilst I did achieve 10 GCSEs I wasn’t hugely academic. I worked hard and applied myself to be able to pass but nothing really came that easily to me, so grade As were out of the question. My mum saw this in me so encouraged my areas of interest, that being sport and the outdoors. Very begrudgingly I went down to Devon and completed an Assistant Instructors (AI) Sailing qualification.
I remember it so clearly because I did NOT want to do it. I was on my own, away from my mates, I didn’t know anyone and I was far away from my home comforts. Instead I had to spend a week on a docked ferry, living, eating, and breathing sailing. But as it happens I was very pleasantly surprised!
I’d never been to Devon before and where I was staying was nestled in the most beautiful town of Salcombe. It really did take my breath away. The weather was gorgeously warm and the moment I arrived at my base, I was met by the most friendly, sunkissed people. There was a camaraderie about the boat and I settled in very quickly because it was a fun and relaxed learning environment.
I achieved my AI qualification that summer and loved being in the fresh air so much that I was offered a holiday job with that particular sailing school, helping with the little ones. I had so much fun that I went back every summer for three years! I didn’t earn very much money but I earned a wealth of skills – communication, sensitivity, adaptability, interpersonal, socialisation with all ages and learning to live on a budget!
I am now such an advocate for working in the holidays and will encourage my children to do the same. Credit goes to my mum for making me do it because I had ‘an official RYA sailing qualification’ and months of teaching practice on my CV AND I had many, many happy summers of pure fun doing so!
No I haven’t grown up to be a sailing instructor, but that qualification and experience helped me get to university to read a degree in sport and my first job upon leaving Durham at BBC Sport.
Holiday work is a must. You never know where it might lead you in the future and it provides a journey that can only be a positive one. It will make you realise what you like and don’t like, what you want more of and perhaps less of, give you confidence in areas that you never realised you were capable of, whilst at the same time looking good on that oh so important Curriculum Vitae and earning a bit of pocket money in the process.’
Follow Mary’s example and find your summer job on Holiday Staff.