It’s a strange feeling isn’t it? The moment you see your mobile light up with an unknown, yet familiar number. You know you applied for a job a couple of weeks ago, and you know that it’s a local landline calling. But what should you do? Your mind races: ‘What if it’s a telephone interview?!’; ‘Do I go for Hi? Hello?…Howdy?’ (show them I’m fun and off the wall); ‘Can they sense I’m still in my pyjamas at 1pm?’; ‘What if it’s just my dad asking if I need more smart-price baked beans?’. All of which you know the answer to, but in that moment of blind panic, you think answering with an “Oh, hello” in your poshest phone voice is the best option. In hindsight, Queen Liz wasn’t the ideal Mondrem candidate, just standard Kate would’ve sufficed.
After a 10 minute conversation with Lucy, we discussed all the interview date options that I couldn’t make, and attempted to seamlessly handle a telephone that decided to mute itself – ‘Wow, I bet they think I’m really incompetent’. We settled on a date – February 5th, which gave me a fortnight to prepare for my interview.
[I would like to take this moment to apologise to my fellow new Mondrem colleagues and friends George, Bob and Cynthia for making you all wait two weeks to hear your good news, my bad].
As February 5th rolled around, interview task in one hand, fancy laminated portfolio in the other, I walked (well, hobbled) up to the Business School in my exclusive interview shoes, which have since become the footing for much more shoe-related humour (I hope the self-confessed king of dad jokes Mike will appreciate that pun). I was sort of terrified, but remained optimistic, I knew that I was the person for the job, but would my nerves let me communicate that using lexis other than ‘Erm…like…obviously’? We’ll see.
Immediately sitting down in the Mondrem office, I felt at ease. I was greeted with smiles and laughter all round. Following a couple of handshakes and introductions, it was the dreaded QUESTION TIME. The interview style stood out to me straight away – open questions and ‘Tell me about’ rather than the generic ‘Give me an example of when you’ve worked in a team.’ It felt like Mike and Lucy wanted to get to know me as a person, as much as learn about my qualifications to do the job. It was lovely, and provided more evidence that the aforementioned phone voice was not necessary. Two days and a phone call from Mike later, and I’d got the job! Even then, it was a cheery ‘We’d like you to come and work for us!’ rather than a drab ‘Hello. The job is available for you, if you are still interested.’ Little things like that continue to stick with me throughout my time at Mondrem and are built upon every day.
First week in, I’d got my shiny new title of ‘Communications Lead’, and had met (most of) the team- and I can truly say, I’ve never worked with a lovelier bunch (No bribes for me to mention that, honest). During my initial couple of weeks, I learned so much about what an important organisation Mondrem is. Listening to each of the teams’ personal commitments to helping public services inspired me to do more. Before starting at Mondrem, I knew that public services were important, but I didn’t quite understand how close to our hearts the work they do often is. We all connected so well, and built a cohesive understanding of what Mondrem envision. Those induction weeks offered me a real insight into why we want to support public services, as well as instilling phrases like ‘shared understanding’ and ‘human connection’ in my memory. They proved that Mondrem genuinely care about people. The support I received and continue to receive from the team, including my fellow new colleagues, is exceptional, cementing in-practice the theory of ‘bringing kindness to work’ that Mondrem so often encourage. I understood then that the organisation isn’t for show – the team have a heartfelt passion for what they do.
Everything was going swimmingly, until *DUN DUN DUN* Did someone demand I leave university, work from home, go back to living with family and try to concentrate in an environment full of canned foods and not enough loo roll? (Hint: It begins with ‘Corona’, and ends with ‘virus’). For the first week or-so, I was not feeling inspired. Slowly but surely though, our weekly catch-up meetings became a space for me to escape the daily monotony of nothingness (in all fairness, my car has never been so clean). I was encouraged by the team to create my ‘Place of Happiness’, and to look for ‘Moments of Joy’ in the everyday. Among our meetings, I would be cheered up by listening to snippets of lockdown lessons, from Marianne’s vegetable garden to Bob’s love of a Lancashire butter pie. I learned that the positivity and hope that Mondrem generate isn’t just client-facing.
The work I have since gone on to do is inspired by and reflects everything that I’ve learned from my 8 short weeks at Mondrem – from building friendships with my colleagues to what I write down on paper. Much of the content I create is in the form of written blogs, posts, webpages etc, and is informed by what I’ve seen and experienced while working with Mondrem – I hope they capture the optimism and care that I’ve witnessed. To me, Mondrem’s validity is rooted in the people at its’ heart. From my interview to now, my experience only further concludes that Mondrem is an organisation built for people who care, by people who care (I hope that wasn’t too cheesy, like one of Bob’s butter pies). Genuinely though, as I settle in to my role, I feel more and more inspired to write pieces that get the story of Mondrem out there – from first-hand experience, it’s a story worth telling.