Friday, 18 May 2012

Working in Clearing

You may have been attacked by the Clearing recruiters on campus lately just when you thought it was safe to settle down to a lovely meal in the café or a stroll on the lawn.

When I applied to join the Clearing team two years ago, mine was one of 600 applications.  Luckily no one told me until after I got the job or I would have given up any hope of being considered!
At the interview I was asked a few questions about working in a team, working under pressure and being reliable.  I wondered if running a midwifery practice as a single parent on call for home births and dealing  with emergencies on a fairly regular basis while juggling  quite an erratic lifestyle was sufficient.  We then had skills testing where we had to do data entry, sort a list of names into alphabetical order and then do a phone test.  My hair kept flopping in my eyes during the data entry making me so much slower than the person sitting next to me, then the sorting into alphabetical order seemed okay but when it got to the phone test any sense of calm just flew out the window.  We were given the prospectus to look through and then told that we would be phoned up and asked questions about the courses in them.  I was sure I had done everything wrong and convinced myself I had failed so it was quite a surprise to receive the acceptance letter.

I attended the three day training in August and by the end of it I felt that my head was bursting with information.

 The first person I met on the course was Nicola and we have both now worked together for two Clearings and we often meet up for lunch on the days we work in the Enquiry Unit together.
Everyone is allocated to a team with a leader and the newbies all have special buddies to help and support them.  These ‘buddies’ are fellow students who have already worked at least one, often two Clearings and are invaluable to the whole team.  As the weeks progress, the members of each team became closer and closer and a fierce rivalry develops. It is very hard work and we are trained to always respond courteously no matter what mood the caller is in.

 The phones ring constantly with anxious callers worrying about finding a place at university or the progress of their applications so working closely together with team mates is vital.  In between all that hard work, we do have lots of fun and a sense of humour helps tremendously. It all culminates in our Theme Your Team event where, in between calls and during our breaks we decorate our team bay ready for judging on the last day.  Our team came second last year with our Twister Party theme.  You can read all about it and check out the pics in my August September 2011 blogs. Here is a reminder:

Team Uzma: 
Our Clearing 2011 Early Clearing team

Twister Party theme

 The winners:  Pac man theme

The recruitment drive is for the main clearing period starting 13 August and ending 7 September. During A Level week there is overtime available especially on A Level Results Day when the phones are going from 8am until 10 pm.  We oldies will be working in early clearing from June and late clearing closes at the end of September. 

This work has been so welcome to help pay the bills and my tuition fees.  I have also learnt a lot.  I had been self employed most of my working life so it was quite strange to be employed and working as a team in an office.  I enjoy the interaction with the staff and my fellow students and, having grown up with quill pens and being chased by sabre tooth tigers, find myself on the receiving end of much hilarity in the office when I discover a new amazing thing about computers that is second nature to the younger ones.  My latest was finding out what the print screen button was for.  The ‘reference’ tool in word that Katrina taught me was almost life changing whilst learning about the tab key increased my data entry timing from stone-age-slow to almost bronze-age-meandering pace.

That weird button I have been ignoring for so long
…so you see working in Clearing that first summer not only left me with money in my pocket but helped me acquire  loads of new skills and led onto two years of regular part-time work that I could fit in around my studies. 

Sources: Phone instructions

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