Back in May I got a new job working at a gym. It's the gym I've belonged to since shortly after I moved to Holland. It's a great place, here's the link if you want to check it out: warning, the website is not the best and it's all in Dutch!
Anyway, my goal in working there was to get acquainted with the Dutch working culture (which is very different than what I'm used to in Canada - I'll blog about that soon). And, to improve my Dutch to the point that I could later get a job which relies on my ability to communicate, which are the kinds of jobs I always had in Canada.
My current job is mostly great. I'm a receptionist, but it's not like anything I'm used to in Canada. I work about 3 shifts per week - none of them are great shifts in terms of fitting into the rest of my life, mostly evenings and weekends, which is the not-great part of my job. The great part is huge. I have great colleagues, I can easily do the job itself, the challenge is indeed the language and so I can happily leave my work behind when I go home for the day. As a receptionist, I answer the telephone and make reservations for guests to play squash, tennis, or participate in a group class such as spinning. I take messages for the administration, pass on concerns and compliments from guests to colleagues, sell products such as towels, rackets, and sunbed-glasses. I explain and sell memberships, turn on the steamroom and sauna, chat with guests about everything under the sun, and accept people's membership cancellations.
90% of what I do I do easily and well because the job relies on my personality. I am great with people, and even when I first started, when my Dutch wasn't so great, everyone could still communicate with me and enjoyed asking me about my accent and telling me about their trips to Canada. The downside to the job is that it doesn't ask enough of me. And I knew that right from the start.
So what I did was start taking a personal training course. I used the down time at work to study - sometimes there is a lot of downtime, and although I can wander off to get a cup of tea, help a guest with something, or go to the bathroom, I am supposed to mostly be sitting behind the desk in case the phone rings or in case a guest needs me. So I used that time to study, and I studied very hard, and I did extremely well on my exam.
Then I talked to my boss. I explained to him that even though I have all this knowledge, I didn't feel I could move forward without experience. He offered to let me work with the trainers at the gym, and although I wouldn't be paid, and there wasn't a job opening right now, I could do that for as long as I liked.
I think that is awesome. He's confident enough in my personality, my professionalism, my knowledge and my ability to let me represent his gym in a new way. And he doesn't make it easy for me. The first client on the first day, he went through his normal routine, although of course he introduced me to the client, and asked me a couple of questions along the way. The second client, he asked me a lot more questions. Afterwards he pointed out things I can improve.
It won't be easy, but on the other hand, I know exactly what he's talking about, and I can try to focus in on those areas.
And he invited me to take on more responsibility working with him the following week.
I'm proud of myself because:
- I set a goal of improving my Dutch - and met it.
- I set a goal of learning about personal training - and met it.
- I established trust and professionalism, which opened the door to getting some practical experience as a trainer.
- I am getting that practical experience, which is an ongoing challenge.
- I can see that I can do anything I want to do. There is no door closed to me, except the ones I choose not to open.