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My first job: Michelle’s story

3rd October 2019

I was sixteen when I started my first “proper” job. It was at Robinsons, a family-run bakery based in Failsworth, Manchester. 

It was c1994 and I was studying towards my GCSE’s. I saw the advert in my local paper for a Saturday Shop Assistant. Having always been a cake and bread lover, it seemed like my perfect job! I had a short interview with the business owner, and I will never forget him asking me if I knew what 8×8 was. Despite my awful maths, I answered the question correctly and was offered the job on the spot.

I worked there for about a year and enjoyed the perks – a fresh deli sandwich, a cream cake and a fizzy drink of my choice during each shift – perfect!

After this time, I worked at an industrial bakery where I had to manually roll and pack Swiss rolls on the factory floor. I worked here c1995 and had so much fun, before securing another job working at Oldham Indoor Market on a cheese and egg stall. I had to serve customers and guesstimate how much cheese to cut, as we didn’t use scales. The owner showed me how to roughly cut the correct amount of cheese per customer order, although I would sometimes feel sorry for our elderly customers and would often cut them a little extra.

Throughout my A levels, I undertook a few factory jobs and in 1996 I went to university to study a joint honours degree in English Literature and Spanish. I always worked during the university holidays and following my parents relocating to Havant, I secured my first ever office job working for Cega Air Ambulance, who at the time were based at Goodwood. I was taken on as a Case Manager Linguist; I always thought that this was rather a posh title for a 19 year old whose job was to translate Spanish and French medical reports into English, as well as offer customer service and assistance to travellers abroad. Being based at glamorous Goodwood was a far cry from the previous roles I had held in Manchester.


As part of my degree, I chose to take a placement year teaching English in Elizondo, a remote town in The Basque Country. This was in 1999/2000 and was the first time that I had lived abroad. It was a daunting yet great experience and I met some lovely people, but it made me realise that teaching wasn’t for me. 

I headed back to the UK and graduated in 2001, unsure of what I would do next. I registered with a few employment agencies and undertook various temp jobs in marketing and admin. This made me realise that I would suit working in an agency myself, as I had developed strong customer service experience and I liked the idea of helping people find their ideal role. I saw an advert in the Portsmouth Evening News, a company called CMA Recruitment was looking for a graduate Trainee Recruitment Consultant. This was 18 years ago and I’m still here! I’ve held various remits throughout my time at CMA and have made lifelong friendships with my colleagues and strong relationships with clients and candidates alike.


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a professional violinist or work in a recording studio.

What advice would you give your 13 year old self?

I would tell my 13 year old self not to worry about wearing the latest fashion trends, after all parallel jeans, bum bags and Naff Naff jackets were never cool!

 What about your 18 year old self?

I would tell my 18 year old self to make the most of my teenage years, time flies so quickly, and to take many more photos using my disposable camera!


Are you on the lookout for your next role and think that recruitment could be for you? We want to hear from you! Contact us today to learn more about our current opportunities.