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“Oh my god… everything makes so much pretty. I’m pretty, you pretty, everything so pretty, I’m the most beautiful muthafucka there ever was.”

So as you may or not know I left Italy after some troubles with my previous employer Linguarama. I meant to give full details in a blog post about it but to be honest I’ve been way to busy. Here’s a partial explanation as to why…

When I arrived back in Scotland from Italy in June I had already applied to 24 Summer Camp jobs, of which 7 had offered me a teaching post. After going through that bout of Skype of interviews, I had started applying to jobs on mass as well as sending an application for a PGDE post graduate course to become a secondary school English teacher.

A month and a job interview diary book later and I had still not heard anything back from any of the jobs that I had been applying to since the end of May. It being July now I was due to start my Summer Camp job in Eastbourne on the 4th. The employer shall remain nameless for the moment but frankly, despite having worked in customer service, at chip-shops taking shit from drunks and having cleaned toilets in my lifetime (it’s a custom to clean up after yourself in Japan in some workplaces), it was the worst job experience of my life to date.

At the summer school we were expected to teach 6 hours of classes a day (standard), do additional activities with kids like taking them on day trips to London or spend 3 hours a day monitoring them playing football and other games and lesson plan with 3 computers and 1 photocopier between 22 teachers, 2 of which had Internet access but could not print and the one that could print having no access. Teachers reading this will know exactly how reliant we are on photocopiers for printing copies for students if not the Internet so no resources is a massive problem! So much so that people have written books on the subject of teaching without resources for TEFL teachers in countries without any.

Most of the teachers arrived home at 8pm after starting the day at work at around 8am if they weren’t doing activities. If we were on activities, home time was closer to 10pm. At one point the photocopier ran out of toner and we almost had an Arab Spring in the staff room when it was found out that those in charge didn’t have a replacement, nor any other sense of competence or faculties about them.

So 5 days in to my 4 week temporary job hell and I get a phone call from a company whom I’ve named to some of you already but won’t name here just to cover my back. This company is a well-known Glasgow tourist attraction. I had applied to them back in June and they wanted to give me a group interview with 12 others, of which 3-4 would get the job. You can imagine me delight but also the turmoil going on in my head. Do I stay or do I go? What if the job centre finds out I quit a temporary job to go for a permanent one? What if I don’t get it? What if I don’t go for it and end up spending 3 more weeks in this shitty Summer camp?

After getting advice from new friends I had met down in Eastbourne (Thanks Eli, seriously!) and from my family, i decided to make the leap of faith and try for this demonstrator job in the tourist attraction.

Part of that decision was made on the basis that I could call in sick to the Summer Camp job and maybe head back down if it was feasible so that i didn’t lose the job. The other part that tipped the balance for me to return to Glasgow was being told by 2 people in the tourist attraction’s recruitment team that all the applicants were equal and that none of the candidates stood out amongst the others. I explained to them both in two separate phone calls that if I was considered a peripheral candidate in anyway that I would cut my losses and not bother attending the interview. In short, I was candid as fuck with them and, having chatted with 2 of them, I thought that they had been pretty straight forward with me. The prospect of working with such straightforward and open-minded people was exciting already.

So I took a train back up to Scotland the night before the interview, prep’d myself and made a quick presentation that I had to give in front of this group and went into Glasgow the next day with a fire in my belly and the knowledge that if I got this job, I wouldn’t have to go back down to that Summer Camp hell-hole.

If I could replicate the performance I gave for that job interview for every job interview I would. I was in an hour early, time enough for me to get coffee’d up and practice my presentation which involved a demonstration of how a a balloon doesn’t burst when it has water in it and the science behind it – sounds dry, it was a lot of fun – inspired completely by this:

I showed up to see most of the other interviewees ready to head in to the group interview and greeted a few of them after an awkward 5 second silence where no one really wanted to talk to one another. The one guy without a suit or shirt and tie on decided to talk to me and I discovered that he was in a similar situation to me, having travelled up from England. Nice guy, but I figured if you can’t show up dressed to work, you ain’t getting the job son.

We then got asked in and were told a little bit about the company. At this point 2 more people arrive in late. Bam, that’s a total of 3 competitors who aren’t getting the job. 9 of us in contention including myself. HELLZ YEAH, BOY!

The staff do zero warm-up or presenting beyond a little bit about the company before we are asked to give our demonstrations in front of one another. We are given a strict 2 minute time limit on the presentation and are warned of 30 seconds to go if there are any issues. Everyone seems nervous as a result of no warm-up – good, good, less competition for the post, and I’ve practiced my presentation so I know I can do it well.

My presentation involves both a naked candle flame and some water. I am told that flames aren’t allowed in the building and there is no tap present in the room. I explain myself and they tell me that as long as I demonstrate what’s going on, I should be fine.

Maybe 3-4 people go over the time limit but continue their presentation regardless. There’s a sense of “get on with it and get this over with” in the room by the time I set up my presentation. I am called to the front but no one tells me when to start so I wait for the guy before me to tidy up his presentation before I take to the stage. I’ve literally started speaking and have my things on the desk by the time they call 30 seconds but other people went over so I don’t let it phase me.

I take a volunteer, get a few laughs by referring to everyone in the room as kids and get a nice round of applause rather than the polite ones that have been going around. My hands are only shaking slightly, which is a good sign as are the brief smiling faces replacing the previously nervous ones when I finish. However, I did go over time – a bit of a worry but I think the results, the quality of the presentation, was worth it.

We then go to do some classic tower building with kinnex… cliche and sad that people actually interview this way but I figured if I show I’m a team-player that’s what this exercise is all about. I take the time to introduce myself to the other candidates and we all shake hands unlike the other teams. I ask people how familliar they are with kinex after saying that I have never used them in my life and we find out who are the experts in our team and who aren’t which sets a tone to defer to them;  had this not been established I guess that there might have been awkward moments where we would have argued amongst ourselves. We then establish that using a triangular/honeycomb structure is best for the base and get to working. Our tower looks to be the tallest at the end and once that is established to be the case, I ensure we high-five once we win. After having only just met, our team is established, our tower is the tallest and I felt like I really contributed to that success.

We are then asked to go look at some of the exhibits on our own and write a piece about how we would demonstrate them to a family. I get into teacher mode and write up a detailed lesson plan on exactly how I would do things and get excited at this stage at the prospects of aceing this interview. I take the time to chat to some of the staff, which I see none of the other interviewers doing and ask them what the difficulties and best bits of the job are while the other interviewees go for coffee breaks and finish up their writing pieces. I felt that if I got the job, getting to know those who had been in the job longer was a good move over chilling out for coffee.

Then comes the solo-interview where I am asked exactly two questions in the following manner: “Why do you want to work for the [company] and what would you bring to the role?” I answer by going into details on why the company would be good for me, explaining that I had heard Neil Oliver visits the place, which got some smiles and nods, and then went on to explain why I was a good fit for the company including my background as a teacher and someone who has spent their life learning, which the interviewers themselves said was one of the largest challenges to the role: the sheer amount you have to learn.

I was confident with my answers and in the 10 minute scheduled session, they were finished with me after 5. It seemed that after two questions and some questions of my own, they had made up their mind about the post. Maybe this recruitment business isn’t so difficult after all…

The company told me they would get back to me either on the day or the day after, meaning that I could go back down to Eastbourne or not depending on their answer as I was still calling in sick at that point.

Instead they took a day longer than suggested to reply to me, meaning that I would have had to give a sick line to Summer Camp. As that simply wasn’t possible, I opted to resign instead, confident I had the job, while falling back on my uni application and job searching if I didn’t, which as it turns out, was the case.

I asked for feedback and got this reply:

“Thanks for your application.  The candidates were of a very high standard with national and international applicants, making the process competitive.

 Your demonstration was very engaging – we were particularly impressed with your stage presence and the confidence you showed working with your volunteer.  However, your presentation ran over time considerably which was disappointing.

 Whilst your background has relevance to the role of Science Communicator, you were competing against candidates who were able to provide evidence of a stronger foundation in science.

Your interview session was positive and your confidence and enthusiasm came across strongly.  However, we felt that you focussed on what the role could do for you -developing  you and building your CV.  We would have preferred to hear more about what you could bring to [the company].”

Considering how the interview was run, with no clear timing on the presentation and the fact that I was told all candidates were equal beforehand when they actually had a more science-focussed candidate in mind the whole time, not to mention that I answered both questions fully since they were put to me at the same, yet they seemed to take it as me focussing on myself, just makes me furious.

I remain angry at a process that wasn’t entirely clear and gave me false hope when they simply could have told me not to bother. To pick holes in the timing of my presentation when there were people who were late, didn’t show up in proper attire and were also late in their presentations is galling. To have picked someone with more of a science background rather than just weeding me out at the pre-interview stage is really, really shady to me.

In the end I quit some pay for a really shitty job that would have ended in 3 weeks time or so but would have still been money in the bank. I risked losing benefits with the job centre too, though thankfully they understood my quandary. All in, I am now disenchanted with the company, one that I was really excited to work for despite the measly pay and am at the point of considering giving this over to the Daily Record or some shit just to see what they do with it.

All in, I’m not really sure what to do. I have complained but really all I can do is move on. Writing this and getting it out there has helped me do that though.

What’s the worst job hunt experience you’ve had?

Yesterday was one of those big days – you know, the kind of day when everything happens all at once and you wish you could do it all. For starters there was the Glasgow Comic Con where one of my friends went and got published out of it – congratulations Evonne! In the meantime our local gaming group had set a gaming day too  (accidentally it has to be said, we never wanted to clash with a convention!) where quite a few of my friends went to play RPGs and Boardgames at our new hall, which all told went swimmingly; thankfully, because I was one of the people involved in setting it up after a brief hiatus when we lost our hall.

However the event I ended up going to was Chaos of the Warp 3, a tournament set up in Dunfermline for war games including Warhammer 40k, War Machine, and of course, the one thing that would drag me away from an event that I had a large hand in organising, Blood Bowl.

The Kayoss Bowl involved an early start with me getting up at 6 to be at Motherwell train station at 7. My friend Rikki, I was travelling with had to get up at 5 so it could have been a lot worse. After being late to the last Scottish Blood Bowl tournament I was at, I was determined not to be again, especially as I was doing the round draws and taking results on the day. The Scottish weather denied my wishes  for that though as localised flooding meant my 7 o’clock train from Motherwell cancelled, making my late and slowing the tournament up in turn.

Despite the weather though, we got cracking an hour after originally intended. The tournament set up was for 3 games, 1050k gold with 3 regular skills, picked at the start of each match – meaning you would have 1 skill for the first, 2 for the second and 3 for the last.

Of my 3 teams (yes 3, I had totally forgotten all about my partially painted Necromantic), I chose my Skaven over my High Elves as I didn’t like the idea of fielding an 11 man elf team with very little dodge or block. When I think about it, as the tournament organiser, I really should have brought the Necromantic team since they’re a little lower in the Tier system than the powerful top tier Skaven team. Ideally though, I really need to invest in a Goblin team if I’m going to run more tournaments, so that’s at the top of my budget.

Of the teams there I was the weakest in terms of strength so I was expecting a long tournament of getting mashed all day by the 2 Undead, 1 Dwarf, 1 Chaos Dwarf and 2 Orc teams there. Great…

First match was up against our usual tournament organiser, Ant, Edinburgh born but a Geordie at heart (“Areet man!”). This was our first match together despite playing in other tournaments together and generally getting sloshed together and making mischief. Some of our feats of debauchery include staying up late to play Munchkin while listening to Earthtone9 and going to bed early after a nice curry and pint.

Ant was playing one of the two humans teams at the event, his was without the somewhat unreliable Ogre. Sine there were very few teams at the tournament with starting Dodge skills (myself, the two humans and a Lizardman team were the 4/10 who did) he chose to take the pseudo dodge negater, Frenzy on a Blitzer. I chose Guard on a Stormvermin to try and win the bash war against what was a similarly powered team in regards to bashing. I also though it would help me break cages open once I had a corner of the cage.

I won the kick off and chose to receive for a slow turn 6 score. During my drive Ant lost his Frenzier and we both lost a Linemen to KOs and injuries. However, he had taken a babe inducement so he was at 10 men for the next drive while I was at 11.

Pouring rain meant he failed his original pickup giving me a chance to pressure him on my turn 7. On his turn 7 he got the ball almost clear and in my endzone with a 2 man cage and a catcher holding the ball. For me to the stop him scoring, I had to dodge through 2 tacklezones and use to go-for-its to one dice blitz him.I had a reroll. I never needed it, as my Gutter Runner got an open POW on the blitz, forcing the ball off the sideline and out near my endzone.

I then needed to make a 3+ then 2+ dodge with another Gutter Runner then a 3+ pick up to get the ball so that he would at least struggle to score on his turn 8. I had a reroll though. I never needed it. Gutter Runners are amazing.

Still on my turn 8, I had to make a long pass with the same Gutter Runner to another Gutter Runner who was man marked meaning a 4+ pass and a 3+ catch. I had a reoroll though. I never needed it. Gutter Runners are truly amazing.

Finally, to score, still on my turn 8. I had to run my Gutter Runner receiver through a 3+ then 2+ dodge away from his marker to score. I had a reroll in case I used my Dodge skill for the 2+ dodge. I never needed.

This set the tone for the next half as I was 2-0 up and Ant and needed to score and then steal from me to win. He scored to make it 2-1 but then a scored again on my turn 14 to make it 3-1 at which point he conceded the game after we brutalised our teams earning 3 casualties each.

Game 2 was against my old nemesis, Squinty with his Dwarves. I have now faced Squinty on three occasions, twice now with Skaven and once with a loaned team of Dark Elves. We have drawn now on both occasions so I knew this was going to be rough. I also knew that I was going to get truly mashed as he had taken Mighty Blow for his first skill on a Troll Slayer and decided to gleefully do so again on his second. I figured that the only way I could beat his team was if I stole the ball before he could cage up so I took Kick on a Gutter Runner.

He won the kick-off, meaning, if Kick didn’t work, I was getting mashed for 8 turns.

And mashed I was indeed. We rolled a Riot for the kick-off so it was only for 7 turns thankfully but the kick landed right next to one of his Runners and he started as he meant to go on by taking out two of my scrimmage line-rats on the first blocks of the game. Uh-oh…

I tried to stop a cage forming but when that failed, I stopped standing up my line-rats and ran my Gutters all the way up the end of his end zone so that they would be safe. He left 7 players in a cage and screen in my endzone and chased the gutters and my Guard Stormvermin (one got knocked out) and chased my surviving team with 4 of his players in a game of Cat and … Mouse. See what I did there?

By the end of the first half, he was 1-0 up and I had 8 players including all of my positions and one surviving line rat. This meant I would struggle to score and had to steal from him too if I wanted to win. I scored in two turns with a pass and some Gutter Runner magic. The stealing would be the hard part and he had 6 turns to score. Oh boy…

I set up asymmetrically, relying on Kick to boot the ball to the side I was on if he set up symmetrically, or Kick to the opposite side of the field if he set up asymmetrically like I did.

He set up symmetrically with an equal distribution of Dwarves on either side of the pitch, so I booted the ball up the left side of the field where my 4 Gutters and 1 Stormvermin were on – the other 3 rats being on the line of scrimmage. Sure enough he picked up the ball but didn’t form a cage around his runner. I had a chance…

I one die Blitzed a Dwarf covering my access to prey (using my final reroll to do so) and then rolled 4 2+ no reroll thanks to tackle, dodges on my Gutters to swamp the ball carrier. He then botched a roll on his turn and the ball was mine! I had to stall for 4 more turns, otherwise he might make the result 2-2 so we played cat and mouse again as he tried to catch my gutters while they hovered in his end zone but eventually I got the turn 16 score to make it 2-1.

Phew! Last up was Phil, whom along with Ant, I went down to Monkey Bowl with as part of a 4 man Team Scotland. As a fan of grunge and having good taste in music in general, I knew Phil had an able brain in there underneath all those riffs, 3rd-verse-same-as-the-first yell-alongs and song names named after random women.

Phil was playing an Undead team with a Block Ghoul, a Guard Wight and a Tackle Wight he rightly chose for me. My third skill was a toss up between Strip Ball and Wrestle. In the end I chose Wrestle because I knew it would useful even if he didn’t take Sure Hands on his remaining Ghoul. Now that I think about it, I should have known he would take Tackle and just went in with the Strip Ball.

He won the kick off and proceeded to mash my team as I failed to break his initial cage. We played some more cat and mouse as I dodged away from Mummies as far as I could while staying near his cage so that I could pressure it on his last turn before scoring and fouling and (screwing up!) crowd-pushes on anyone that I could. I might have messed up his drive had I had Strip Ball, but no matter. He scored on turn 8.

This left me with one turn to score. I set up for a one turn touchdown but then we got a riot on the kick off result. Despite this I failed a dodge on a Gutter Runner leaving me just one more turn to score. Phil put a tacklezone on my ball carrier and then after knocking down my receiver, went for a go for it to foul him and failed it. Just as a side note, he attempted 3 foul actions with go for its and every one failed all game.

This left me with my turn 8 to score and with a 6+ longbomb, I did just that. My ratty heroes made it 1-1

In my drive,I was only a few players down so I elected to go for a slower drive, rather than a turn 2 score and in my attempt to send 3-4 Gutter Runners near his end of the half as receivers I double 1’d a Gutter Runner dodge meaning he managed to steal the ball. as I was setting this up. He then blitzed my ball carrier and in return, in the furor, I stole it back off him and ran away with it to my endzone with my thrower. He then pressured my stalling tactics and as I tried to make a longpass to a receiver, I 3+ dodged a Gutter Runner out and failed. He got a free Blitz with a reroll on my thrower meaning he really ought to have scored but only got pushes and that I got another chance to play some Hero Bowl.

This may just be the play of the day, even more so than Ant’s ball stealing.

He had committed all his faster players to chasing down my ball carriers and had some Mummies and Zombies tying up all my players in the middle. I had a Gutter Runner that I ran up into his side of the pitch and a Lineman marked by a Zombie.

I dodged my Thrower out and threw a long bomb – not to my Gutter runner who was in long pass range, but the lineman, man-marked by the zombie as I knew that if he didn’t catch it, he would struggle to get many people around the ball, meaning my Gutter up there could do its magic. Sure enough though, he failed his intercept attempt and while I was simply hoping for a 4+ with a Pass reroll so I didn’t fumble the ball with my Thrower, BAM! I get a 6.

The line rat now needs a 4+ to catch, which of course, being the hero that he was, he did. He then need a 3+ dodge out of the zombie’s tackle zone and 2 go for its to score which, of course, being a star of my team that I put on my line of scrimmage to get eaten by mighty blow players all the time, he did.

After going up 2-1, on the resulting kick-off,Phil was looking at playing for a draw at this point until I rolled a timely Blitz for me to make it 3-1. Luck, luck, luck. That’s how you win a Blood Bowl tournament!

Before rounding off though, I want to thank all the guys at Chaos of the Warp for being awesome in general. I had some time between the rounds to talk to not only the Blood Bowl players but the guys in the other tournaments too. The atmosphere was really welcoming and friendly and the day went without any hitches other than those caused by the weather.

Normally I’d give a props and slops section a la old Magic: The Gathering writers when they reported their tournament results but there were no slops (not even the train operators who did the best they could) and instead would like to give 3 super-awesome-fantaculous-winslice-megabumps instead.

Super-Awesome-Fantaculous-Winslice-Megabump number 1 goes to Geoff who organised Chaos of the Warp as he did a fantastic job doing all the heavy lifting of taking payment and organising a hall and other logistics to make the tournament happen. Where I may have ran the Blood Bowl side of things, he made it all happen.

Super-Awesome-Fantaculous-Winslice-Megabump number 2 goes to all of my opponents for putting up with my spawny, spawny luck all day and not killing all of my super-hero players, though not for trying 😛

Super-Awesome-Fantaculous-Winslice-Megabump number 3 goes to the guys on the committee at Lanarkshire Gamers – namely Doug and Chris, for running the show while I was away kicking ass and taking names. Thank you!

* * *

Normally I would end the post there but I’m feeling so good that I’m going to have to give a bonus Super-Awesome-Fantaculous-Winslice-Megabump.

BONUS CONTENT GET’S:

The Super-Awesome-Fantaculous-Winslice-Megabump Bonus goes out to Brian at Lead Legion aka ‘Brain Rae’ for pro-painting the star players I won. Here they are in all their glory: http://www.leadlegion.com/2012/06/griff-and-zug.html

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