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My work experience Aoife Madden

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My work experience

by Aoife Madden


My name is Aoife Madden and I am a 15-year-old at Trinity Academy, as a 4th year student I am required to do a week of work experience which will help me gain new skills and hopefully give me a better idea of what I want to do as a career in the future.

I found out about smart works through a friend of a family who had just started volunteering there so I sent an email to Kasia, the manager, asking if I could to my work experience and she said it would be fine!  I thought it would be a great experience to learn about the ins and outs of a charity.  though it’s just my first day I can see that even though smart works seems like quite a small organization there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

Day 1

I started off in the morning at 9.30am feeling slightly nervous but when I came in felt very welcomed by Kasia and comfortable.  I started off the day by reading through and filling out a couple of booklets to do with what I was going to be doing throughout the week, what my expectations where and what my career ideas for the future are.  In one of the booklets there was a quiz which- when I finished answering the questions- it told me what kind of person I was and what I could bring to the work place, it was quite accurate with only a couple of things I disagreed with.  After doing that we had a client come in and I watched how Kasia and the volunteers dealt with the process.

Once the client had left I took the opportunity to ask some of the volunteer’s questions about their careers and how they got to where they are now.  This was a great help for me as they all had a slightly different answer to each question and It gave me more confidence when thinking about my future.  I got some great advice from them also.

it’s only my first day at smart works but I can already see that even though it seems like quite a small organization there’s a lot going on behind the scenes including all the phone calls that must be made to organize donations, book in clients and communicate with different types of people.

Tomorrow I plan to walk in with full confidence and work hard to get all the experience I can get out of this is great opportunity.  Here are some pictures from around the office:


Day 2

When I first came in this morning I learnt how to set up the computer and I then sent an email the Smart Work lead manager in London to ask her to put up an invite to one of Smart Works events on the Smart Works website.  After that I answered a phone call from a referral agent which I then passed over to Kasia.  The referral agent had been referring over a client that had an interview coming up and needed an outfit and interview training.  I then, with the help of Kasia, added the new client to the database and added her appointment to the calendar.

Next, as preparation for Thursday, I started printing off some of the feedback quotes that Smart Works had received from previous clients.  These are going to be put up on a board alongside some before and after pictures of clients from their appointments.  All the feedback Smart Works had received from clients was so nice and inspiring.

Once I’d finished doing that I made two phone calls.  I was very nervous to do this at first but there were no problems and I managed to communicate everything I was supposed to.  Once that was done 3 volunteers arrived to organize the stock room.  I helped them and we ended up being down there for about 1-2 hours.  By the end the stock room was looking much tidier than before.

Tomorrow I am going to two presentations with Kasia, hopefully all will go well!




Day 3

To start of the day this morning I came in at 9.30 as per usual, it was quite quiet for a bit up until me and Kasia left to go to a meeting.  The meeting was to let another organization aware of Smart Works and what we do, Kasia did pretty much all the talking but at the end I added in a bit about how I had been finding my work placement at Smart Works and saying what a great experience it had been.  Everyone at the meeting all seemed interested so hopefully Smart Works will get some referrals from them.

Later, once we had come back to the office and had lunch we headed to our next presentation at Edinburgh College to give a presentation about Smart Works to some students interested in doing work experience.  Again, Kasia did most of the talking then I let them know how I had found my work placement so far.  We then showed them a video about Smart Works which I hadn’t seen before myself but it was really good representation of Smart Works.

Tomorrow Kasia isnt coming in to the office so I will be in the office by myself with one of the administration volunteers.   Frippy, the chair person of the organisation, will also be coming in to design the board which I prepared the client feedback quotes for with one of the volunteers tomorrow.  I am most probably going to help dressing a couple of the clients and even booking in a couple of clients.



Day 4

When I came in this morning it was just me and an administration volunteer so it was quite quiet.  I started up the computer as usual and looked at the calendar to see what was happening today.  I then got out my ‘look behind the scenes’ booklet which I had started on Wednesday and continued filling that out until some other volunteers arrived for our first client at 11.  This is when it got really busy.

The client then arrived at 11.30 and I introduced myself and went through to the dressing room/interview section of the office with the client and 2 of the other volunteers.  We had a quick chat with her about what kind of clothes she wanted and what job she was applying for.  Then me and the dressing volunteer went down to the stock room and starting picking out appropriate clothing.  When we came back upstairs with the range of clothing, she picked what she wanted to try on and went in to the dressing area to try them on.  When she came out again she was quite pleased with what she was wearing so didn’t have to try anything else on.  She then tried on different accessories with the outfit and decided on a set of earrings with a matching necklace and a scarf.  Me and the other dressing volunteer then left to her to get her interview training.

Once the client had left I got to sit down with the interview trainer myself and chat with her about interviews.  I found this very interesting and it helped a lot.

Tomorrow is going to be more quiet I think as we don’t have any clients booked in.  I hope to gain as much experience as possible though since it’s my final day.


Day 5 – Final day

It has been quite quiet today, since we haven’t had any clients booked in.  First thing when I came in this morning I updated Kasia on what had happened the day before when she was away and I went over with her how I’d felt it had gone for me personally and skills I felt I’d gained.

Later, Frippy came along to collect some clothes and speak with Kasia.  I helped her take the clothes from the stock room to her car for an event coming up where people will bid on the clothing and all the money goes to Smart Works.  After that I helped write up a report to do with the success rates of our clients, how many of our clients got back to us post appointment, how many 1st dressings there had been in the whole of October etc.  and then sent it on to Frippy.

While Frippy was here she told me about the Hobbs event coming up and invited me along so I am looking forward to going to that if I can as a sort of farewell to Smart Works.

I am now sitting writing this blog reflecting on how great an experience this has been and how I would definitely consider volunteering here in the future if I get the chance because I have really enjoyed being able to work with all these lovely people over the past week and I am very grateful for all the help they’ve provided.  Thanks to everyone at Smart Works!



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