Experience and education

Our work experience student, Max, reflects on his week here at Salad by exploring what he’s learnt and how it compared to school life.

For the past week, I’ve been gaining experience at Salad. When the opportunity arose, I was really keen. I’d never done anything like this before, so I was slightly terrified. I had fears the team would expect me to be an expert in the industry, producing highly polished work. On the other hand, I was slightly dubious I might end up sitting twiddling my thumbs in boredom while being lectured on the basics. I am, in fact, pleased to report that my experience was neither!

The team was welcoming and professional, not making me feel like I was on school trip. The tasks I was given always had purpose and importance, so I didn’t feel like an extra, yet I never felt out of my depth or stressed by my workload. I really felt like part of the team, and this reinforced my ambition that this is exactly the environment I would love to find myself in in the future. I can only hope I end up with a group of colleagues as skilled and patient as those at Salad.

After being given the opportunity to write a blog post, I knew from the word ‘go’ I would struggle, but then I thought to myself, why? It’s not a not a lack of imagination; I’m constantly thinking, evaluating and learning. It’s not a lack of inspiration either. I could do this blog ten times over with the amount I’ve learnt from the Salad team.

So what could it be that seems to make this process so hard for me? Perhaps it’s because the one thing I haven’t been taught is how to self-evaluate. I know from my time at school how to evaluate texts, art, issues and debates, but evaluating myself is much more complex. Don’t get me wrong; I value my education highly. It’s given me opportunities I’ve jumped at taking, and I would be nowhere without it, but over this past week I’ve realised that education alone is not enough to set you up for life. After gaining some experience at Salad, my question is, how does education really help set you up for later life?

School is great at directing you towards a set of criteria you can tick your way through, to make sure you are doing things correctly and in a methodical way. This is great, as I have found it encourages me to work hard at trying to find out what people expect from me, and what it is I need to do to meet their expectations. I am now learning that life works in a similar way. It’s like an exchange of transactions, where everyone wants their criteria met and you just need to figure out how to tick each box.

You’re also required to form many relationships in school, some of which people might consider negative. It is some of the more difficult relationships, however, that can be the most important to establish, like those with competitors or authority figures. These are people you’re always going to have to deal with, and by mastering the way you respond to them in your early years, you have a stronger understanding of them in later life. The people who try to resist this tend to struggle further down the line.

I feel as though all the focus and attention on education comes from exams, and this doesn’t make sense to me. The learning process has so much more potential. By looking only at the end result and not at the value of the journey, you’re effectively throwing away years of hard work just for some qualifications. What can be taken from the process as a whole is so much more valuable.

Personally, I do value this learning time, and it means I have a much deeper understanding of each subject. Some may argue you waste time by spending too long learning a topic, and that you should leave lots of time to revise for exams. I feel it’s a shame there isn’t more importance focused on creating a more memorable learning process that provides both education and experience. It also seems that students at school are spoon-fed, and everyone aims for identical skill sets and knowledge. Perhaps education should be more flexible and allow you to adapt your learning based on where you see yourself going in the future.

I have found so many positives from my experience at Salad in the last week, but I know the reason I’ve found it so enjoyable is the fact it’s fuelling my desire to achieve. I’m aiming to be like the talented individuals I’ve been working with this week, and I now understand that experience is a part of education and vice versa. I would say it’s a healthy mixture of both that will best prepare you for what’s out there, and I’m lucky to have had both in such good quality.

I would like to thank the team at Salad for such an interesting, inspiring experience. I know it’s going to stay with me, and I only wish I could have stayed longer!

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