First jobs!

Stevenage NWR met for the first time on 22 May 2023 at the CIU in Stevenage Old Town. Thank you to the CIU for hosting us!

Cath began the meeting by giving a brief history of NWR, what NWR offers its members today and what the Stevenage NWR group will look like.

After brief introductions we launched into the main discussion topic of the evening – first jobs.

There were some bad experiences: dealing with rude customers, having tea and coffee deducted from their wages and potato picking in the early 1970s when they weren’t paid if they had to pause picking due to rain (they were left to sit under a tree while the managers took shelter in the farmhouse).

We heard from some who said that their parents had not allowed them to take on a Saturday job when young (in hindsight, was this the best decision?) some recalled their first job with fondness and for others they disliked it so much that it drove them to work in a different sector when seeking full time employment. The satisfaction of purchasing a sought-after item with the money earned and the skills learned: social skills, perseverance and how to cut edam with a wire!

We had worked in a variety of places – a library, café, fish and chip shop, chocolate factory, farm, kitchen, telephone sales and shops (how they had to know the price of every product in the shop as there were no labels or barcodes), a hairdresser and a pet shop (navigating their way round an evil parrot and managing to keep their job despite letting five guinea pigs escape having not realised that they’d be able to jump out of the bucket).

It was noted that when describing our first jobs many had spoken of the smell – the fish and chip shop, the chemicals used in a hairdressers and the smell of animal poo!

We discussed the changes in the labour market – when qualifications had not been as important and it was relatively easy to find a job, either through an agency or having the right contacts.

There followed plenty of time for a general chat to get to know each other.

One attendee told us “what a lovely meeting it was yesterday.  Everyone seemed to gel, sharing many experiences and making connections. I’m looking forward to the next meeting already.  Thank you for reaching out to Stevenage and getting us on the NWR map.”