I’m doing a lot of learning at the moment, having dipped my toe into the water of a different method of working with horses, but today I’m switching roles again and playing at being the teacher. In fact, it’s a big change: I’m off to the university I studied at.
Periodically since I graduated, I’ve returned to assist with classes and, on a couple of occasions, I’ve even been on the lookout for staff. It’s 11 months since my previous trip – longer than I’d wanted, as I was invited to go in October but ultimately wasn’t able to make it – and I’m in a similar situation than I was last time. Last April, I was on an extended holiday, technically between jobs and enjoying not having one eye on a blinking BlackBerry and the other on the clock which showed how many hours before I was expected to return to my desk. I was nervous about what my forthcoming summer in the US had in store, but feeling much happier having extricated myself from my job in London. But I told the students none of this: I presented myself as a freelancer.
My logic was that they would hear only part of what I said when introducing myself if I was explicit regarding my situation: they’d have heard that I wasn’t in an event management role, and that would’ve resulted in me losing any potential credibility as a source of information and support. Admittedly, there was some vanity and embarrassment involved on my part – I didn’t want to have gone all that way for them to ignore me, and I was in a position of huge uncertainty in my life whereby I didn’t need a group of students probing my career choices. So I protected myself, made a quick but necessary introduction and proceeded to do my best by them.
The classes are exhausting, as the ones I assist with are in a speed dating format: various guests are brought in, the students work their way around in small groups and the guests answer questions. You spend two hours talking. My message is usually a no-nonsense, “pull your finger out if you want to get a good grade”, but I have had some challenging questions which test my brain (and my memory of textbooks and theories!) and it means that I end the session mentally exhausted, though realising I know more than I thought I did!
Beyond “work hard to get a good grade”, “make sure you get a job which makes you happy” and “enjoy your final few weeks as a student – it’ll be a long time before you have it this good again”, I don’t know what I’ll be saying today. It’s possibly because it’s a year since I was in an events role, but I definitely feel rusty going into this class, and I’m glad it’s not a case of preparing a slide set and giving a didactic lecture. What I am focusing on is coming up with a way of being more explicit with the truth of my own situation, whilst getting across that I know what I’m talking about and that I’m qualified to do so, even though it’s not what I do at the moment. Here’s hoping I can convey the message.