Sunday, 4 November 2012

Chair testing experience

Next week I have to attend a meeting to discuss the future of work experience placements in our workplace. I hope there's plenty of fresh coffee and plate of custard creams to keep me awake.
It needs sorting out though, because the overall standard of kids we get for work experience is enough to make a grown man weep. If these kids are the future of our country then we're f***ed.

This year we had three. The first was totally misplaced - no practical capability whatsoever and clearly didn't really want to be there. He lasted about three days before being shoved out the door.
The second was a complete moron who thought he knew it all but repeatedly made it obvious he knew nothing - but only when  he could be bothered to turn up at all. He also had an extreme case of 'It's not my fault' syndrome. Naturally he didn't see out the week.
The third didn't turn up at all, and I then had an email half way through the week saying he'd written down the date wrong and could he please come in another week? Tough shit matey. Try Burger King instead.

It must be said though, that we've had the odd one who's been like a diamond in a pile of broken glass. Last year we actually had two of them who were fantastic. They were polite, interested, enthusiastic, and they learned quickly. And a few years ago there was the granddaughter of one of our academics who upon realising her capabilities working with her hands, completely changed her ideas about what she wanted to do with her life.

Unfortunately the only career most of them seem to have in mind for the future is chair testing. I firmly believe that most teens have a chair-seeking radar built into their arses. When a work experience kid walks in the door on their first day and plonks himself on the nearest chair we know we've got our work cut out. It means a week of attitude adjustment, communication therapy, and surgical iPod removal. But we're engineers, not their parents, social workers, or psychiatrists, so why the hell do we bother?
The meeting is likely to conclude that all applicants for work experience will have to be interviewed in advance to see if they are the right material, because letters of application are full of lies. This starts to sound like a lot of aggro, and given that some of the schools appear to be phasing out work experience altogether some may say just call it quits and stop taking them altogether.
The point is that although we go through so much crap with the majority, the occasional one that does well restores a little faith. Faith that perhaps we're not doomed after all. Faith that somewhere out there is the next generation of people who can actually DO something.