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VSO Assessment day - Ed's journal
VSO Assessment day
VSO - Voluntary Services Overseas

Went to their assesment day today.

What it is - is a kind of combination interview and team building exercise thing.

The idea of which is to figure out if you're liable to crash and burn, cause a diplomatic incident, or otherwise not cope with being 24 months in the arse end of nowhere.

But anyway.

Travelled down last night. Stayed in a hotel, which had the sole redeeming features of being cheap and near a tube. (But don't mention this to my current employer, as they'll chortle and rub their hands at the prospects of reducing expenses).

(Offtopic: Hotel + offpeak fare was CONSIDERABLY less than the peak rate. THAT is just plain ludicrous. I mean, it was already stupid that it's cheaper to fly to stuttgart for 9am, than it is to get to london (and faster too) but ... GAHH. I think we need free public transport in this country, subsidised by the taxpayer.)

The assement day started with a bit of a overview/briefing, and chat with the people there. Filling in CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) background checks. I'd rather marvelously managed to fail to bring along my ID, so have to go now and post some bills to them.

But anyway. Day was assessed, but not competitive - not a competition for a finite number of places, but rather a 'are you suitable' kind of thing. So assessors observed stuff during the day, and are presumably pondering and pontificating over the relative viability of the various candidates. There were 12 in all, of which 9 were teachers, one was a 'partner not a volunteer' and the other was a Non-profit organisation business managementy type. And of course me. Variety of age ranges. I think the youngest was about 25, and the oldest probably mid-late 50s.

But anyway, the group got split in two, and taken off for an 'icebreaker and teambuilding' exercise. Was one of these challenges that is fairly simple but much more effective if done as a team. The idea being, of couse, to see what our team interactions were like.

After that, was an interview, and 'dilemma preparation'. They didn't interview everyone at once, so they gave those not interviewing a scenario with some choices. The idea being you needed to choose one, and think of reasons why you chose it, and reasons why you didn't choose the others. This was for a later session.

The interview was .. vaguely similar to a job interview, but .. not entirely. It was more focussed on personality and personal circumstances, than specific technical ability - the major reason for placements crashing and burning are 'personal circumstances'.

So they ask things like questions about personal life, relationships, commitments, dependants, that kind of thing. Oh and 'can you think of a situation when you ... ' type questions, which I always loathe. But they guy I was chatting with was friendly and laid back, so it wasn't too bad.

Then I was back to the waiting room for my 'dilemma prep' (45 mins interview, 45mins prep. Or the other way around).

Lunch came next. Buffet. Had doughtnuts. Which was nice.

Then after lunch, was 'the dilemma'. Team exercise, where we started by describing which choice we chose, and why. And then had to agree between us on one.

Again, it was an assessment more of our reasoning and teamwork than the actual choice we made - there was not right, or even 'best' answer.

So anyway, bit of discussion there too.

Followed by a reflection on the day, where we basically got to express our opinions and feelings about the whole affair.

And then, it was off home, via an interlude at borders (new Iain M. Banks - culture wooo).

So, what are my thoughts?

Well, the day was interesting, in that it kind of helped crystallise what was likely involved. Bit of teambuilding and socialising with other potential volunteers was also rather interesting.

The thing I particularly noted though, is that the people who worked there all seemed actually rather sastified with what they did.

Placements are often challenging, but ... well, at the same time they involve working somewhere where your efforts _actually_ make a difference. So it sounds like something that could be good, interesting and satisfying.

Of course, it's also a really big change in ... well, the rest of my life really.

On one hand, I have the road ahead where I am now, which leads... well, places known and unknown, but I think I can see a fair amount of what lies ahead. Career in IT, career development, friends I love dearly, and a place I actually rather like living.

On the other, I have uncertainty. I have a storm of possiblities, which each of which could lead somewhere unexpected, and unusual. Hopefully interesting, possibly fascinating. All it requires it that I be prepared to lose the more certain options.

It's a gamble to be made (assuming I _do_ make it past selection of course) but one I'm feeling more positive about than I was before.

What is certain, is I'm the most free to do it that I'll ever be - my commitments and obligations are fairly minimal in the grand scheme of things.

At the moment, my thoughts run to 'if they offer, I shall accept'. But this is something I shall be spending quite a bit of time pondering, once I hear back as to their response. (And assuming I get these proofs of ID sent off for the CRB)

Related Link: BCS article on someone who's done approximately the same thing, out in Ethiopia http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=ConWebDoc.9004
9 comments or Leave a comment
stgpcm From: stgpcm Date: January 31st, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
So.... did they ask about... EVE?
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 1st, 2008 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)
No, they didn't :).

2 years off EVE is a lot of skill training missed ;).
(Deleted comment)
velvet_nothing From: velvet_nothing Date: February 1st, 2008 12:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I have the feeling you're going to do this, and do a lot of good doing so. You'll be missed here though :o)
ihilate From: ihilate Date: February 1st, 2008 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Good on you. It's a brave thing to even think about doing.
purplebenji From: purplebenji Date: February 1st, 2008 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
good luck with whatever you decide - how exciting!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 1st, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

VSO and life

In living you need to look at the very long time scheme for your life and accept that there will be short term losses and gains
Even if scary.
2 years is a very small amount of time when you are likely to live until you are 80 +
You have a huge and wonderful adventure ahead to last the rest of your life so .....
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 11th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)


did you get offered a place? I have an interview next week.

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 11th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)


Hello. In the end, they declined to offer me a posting somewhere. I didn't press too hard as to why. Good luck though. Don't forget to think about good answers to things like 'why do you want to do this' :).
9 comments or Leave a comment