“WHY WASN’T I TOLD?”
For the first time in my life, I wasn’t strolling around 1-Utama shopping for fancy clothes, books or any other accessories. I was actually walking briskly about the same floor with my partner, Nicole, holding a file and a pen whilst flipping through my papers hurriedly. When we finally decided to stop at a small dim Italian restaurant, I glanced at Nicole. We nodded our heads, and moved apprehensively towards the waitress. It was a funny feeling. Back at the Booker’s Room at MPH, I felt so confident over my assignment- to have dialogues with employees of various stores in order to get a glimpse of working life.
But here, in front of this waitress, my legs felt hollow and wobbly. I was literally sinking lower and lower as she towered over me. But fortunately I managed to say a few words: “Good afternoon. My name’s Su Huei. I’m from Young Leaders International. May I have a dialogue with you on working life?” Nicole poised her pen, all set to scribble notes while I looked imploringly at the lady. “Err… it wouldn’t be convenient as my boss is around.” The lady answered with an apologetic smile.
Despite her mild declination, I felt a pinch of disappointment. Mission 1: Failure. However, we were too high-spirited to let that dampen our aspirations. I guess, in whatever you do, putting your heart into it makes rejection much easier to bear. We moved on to a boutique where a woman greeted us. Her smile was soothing and calming. But to our surprise, she could only converse in Chinese. So we had to switch to Chinese “mode” after hours of English speaking. It proved to be a tongue-tying challenge. But she kept nodding and at the same time flashed encouraging smiles. We felt immensely comfortable in her presence. As you can see, a little grin can do miracles.
“So, what is your solid advice for us when we go job-hunting?” I posed the last question after 15 minutes of conversation.
“Well, mastering the English language is really important. Take me as an example. I didn’t study hard enough, resulting in my broken English.” We nodded gravely at her words. We thanked the woman and continued to look for other retail outlets, delighted by the detailed information we just got. We came across several potential stores: empty, brightly lit with eye-catching and alluring interior designs. But unfortunately, the employees had upturned mouths. Some were frowning as they paced mindlessly throughout the shop. It looked as if we would only get kicked out rudely if we ever attempted to initiate a dialogue with them. This clearly shows that facial expressions play a vital role in attracting customers. Even if you do not wish to smile, putting on an impassive façade would be better than wrinkling your forehead.
At around 12.30p.m, we strode in to McDonald’s for lunch. We had a chicken burger each. Though we could have ordered something far more expensive, I thought it would be fun to buy an item within the range of RM6, the money Auntie Eng Eng provided. After all, we do have to use our money sparingly when we step into the working world, right? But for now, I don’t think I can thrive with just RM6 per meal. Looks like I have a long way to go!
All in all, we had dialogues with employees from seven different stores. But perhaps I shall mention about one more dialogue we had with a receptionist from a dental clinic. She was nearing retirement and thus, had already experienced many things. Therefore, her advice was what I thought, the most down-to-earth and practical. Besides giving us information of the difficult situations she had faced while working, Ms. Rita bestowed upon us some good advice.
“I think that paper qualifications are important in the working world. But social-wise, I think that communication skills are essential.” She said in a motherly tone. After thanking her, we proceeded to some more stores before meeting up with our mentor, Auntie Sophia, just outside MPH. Before I knew it, we were back at the Booker’s Room sharing, and at the same time listening to the interesting encounters of other participants.
In a nutshell, I thought this workshop was really very hands-on and at the same time so exciting. Most importantly, I learnt a good deal of values to equip myself with when I start working in the future.
- PASSION. Having passion for what you do is what helps you go through the toughest things in life. For example, rejection.
- INTELLECT. Paper qualifications are your solid tools for job-hunting. Apart from that, being multilingual helps too.
- COMMUNICATION. The ability to express your thoughts enhances intellect. These two make perfect chemistry.
- CONFIDENCE. Stepping out of your comfort zone to approach people is the first step in getting work done.
- SMILE. Last but not least, smiling and being courteous leaves a good impression on yourself when you meet new people. No one likes an unwelcoming frown.
Voon Su Huei
14 years old