Mercedes is training to become a nursery assistant. She tells us how she got the role, what she loves about it — and why not taking yourself too seriously is important.
Name: Mercedes Toni Shepherd
Willows Day Nursery (training with Qube Learning)
Job role: Trainee nursery assistant
Length of time in role: Three months
Traineeship in Childcare
Maths: Entry Level 3 (achieved with Qube)
1. What was your very first job?
This work placement at Willows is my first job.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I have always wanted to work with children. I’m from a big family and have always been around children.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
From my careers advisor at school and from Qube Learning.
4. How did you get to where you are today?
I applied for a nursing assistant traineeship with Qube Learning just by ringing them up and booking an appointment at the Kickstart Centre in Bradford. Qube found me my placement at Willows. I didn’t get the grades I’d hoped for in my GCSEs but I get to do Functional Skills qualifications in English and Maths with Qube.
5. What is a typical day like?
Every day is different! We plan activities for the children and serve meals at the same time everyday but the children are unpredictable and enjoy ‘free-flow’ play.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
Watching the children learn and develop everyday is so rewarding.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
I enjoy every aspect of my job. Even crying babies don’t faze me! I guess getting the children to listen is the hardest bit.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
I think you need to be an outgoing person and you’ve got to have a real passion for children. Work experience is so important. You learn a lot more on the job than at college.
9. What’s the number-one most important transferable skill needed for your job?
Confidence is key. But this quality comes after time in the job. I was scared at first but I love it now.
10. How did you develop your confidence at work?
Just get on with it! I was scared to join in the first few days but a big part of the job is not taking yourself too seriously. You need to be able to sing and dance with the children. Just remember: children don’t judge you so don’t feel embarrassed getting stuck in.
11. What do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I think I was well equipped to start my placement. Qube explained the things I would be doing before I started.
12. Where would you like to be in five years?
I would love to be a room leader in five years. My dream is to own my own nursery one day.