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Working at Smile - 30-09-2020 - - 0 comments
Starting a new job during a pandemic


As a recent postgraduate, I felt a little lost on where to start my job search. I spent all day everyday searching through job adverts and noticed how common recruitment positions were. I actually interview with an IT and finance agency several times before I fell into the education recruitment sector. After having a few chats with our directors to figure out what kind of role was best suited for me, I started at Smile in early January 2020 as a compliance administrator.

I immediately knew this business was going to be a perfect fit for me. Coming from a family that was always involved in education, being able to work in the sector felt familiar to me and comforting as I settled into my new role. Straight away I was accepted as part of a close-knit team who were always available to help me out. Learning an entirely new process, with terms you’ve never heard before, is an incredibly daunting task, but the friendly faces in our office helped to make me feel more at home and welcomed. From helping me curate files, to simply checking up on me as we made drinks in the kitchen, everyone made the effort to talk to me and show me what being a part of Smile Education means.

The training schedule I was given was evenly paced and I always felt comfortable asking questions or needing to go over things again. After just a few weeks, I was confident enough in my abilities to work more independently, however, by the middle of March 2020, things had taken a turn in the outside world, with schools closing and the nation going into a lockdown. This left me feeling purposeless and lost again, but in this scary and uncertain time, the true sentiments of our team were shown. Our directors consistently kept in contact with us all, giving us the latest information as soon as it came in, and checking that we were all still safe. The group of staff members who continued working through the pandemic kept the fort down while the rest of us were gone, but we got to speak with them in weekly digital social events. The way we were treated during our furloughed period was representative of who we are as a business, and furthermore as people.

We, as I’m sure many other people did, believed lockdown would last a maximum of a few weeks, but nearly 4 months later we were still furloughed, and the return to work was feeling more daunting. During our time off, we all kept each other motivated and “match fit” as we called it. The whole team took part in our ‘Marathon in a Month’ challenge for Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, which gave me a reason to get out of bed and dressed every day, to walk a few miles and raise money for an important cause. We also completed numerous training programmes to ensure we had not lost touch with the recruitment industry, which gave us just a little taste of normality again.

As September got closer, my team returned to the office on a part-time basis to prepare our files ready for the big kick-off, and within a few weeks we were back full-time and busy as usual. Over the past month I have reached some personal goals, as I have officially passed my Compliance+ Training meaning I can clear files for work myself, and have seen some of my colleagues break incredible personal records to get as many staff as possible ready to work with us.

The world has certainly changed since we left in late March but being back in the office brings back my sense of purpose and lets me interact with people outside of my household for once. Despite no-one having exciting plans anymore, we are still the tight-knit team who push each other to be our best and are always willing to lend a highly sanitised hand.


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