How many of you remember your first job interview?

Recently, I was invited to Largs Academy along with several other business owners to meet with some of the pupils from the class of 4C1 to conduct mock one-to-one interviews with them.

For most of the pupils they have never experienced what it’s like to sit in front of a prospective employer. Initiatives like these, led by Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and North Ayrshire Council, are designed to give them an idea of what to expect and how best to be prepared for an interview. All of them were nervous (including me, ha) and I could feel their tension. It’s been a long time since I sat on the other side of the interview table so I tried really hard to put myself in their shoes and give them some positive encouragement and tips on what to expect during the process.

From my experience, the school environment is far different from how I remember it and seems much more conducive to learning and I was delighted to be asked to take part in this project. We were shown to the library and instructed to “set up” our own interview seating arrangement and conduct it as we wished. Each of the pupils were rated on such things as communication skills, (verbal and non-verbal), how they presented themselves, their likes and dislikes, and what they felt their strengths and weaknesses were.

After their first attempt they were given feedback and told to go away and think about what they’d been told. It was amazing how, after just one interview, they really took on board the instruction they’d received. Some of them thought about their appearance in a completely different way and others worked especially hard to maintain good eye contact and talk more openly about themselves in their second interview. You could actually see their body language change as they sat more upright and considered the process.

For me, it really was an experience I won’t forget and I hope in some small way I made a difference because it was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done this year. If any of you get the opportunity to do this, please do; you won’t be disappointed.

Afterwards, I received this lovely note to my office thanking me for my input.

Good luck to all of you in your first interview!

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Busiest Easter ever in Largs…

If I was better organised I would’ve written earlier in the season about Easter but, as it happens, I suspect it’ll be a long time before Largs has another Easter like this so I’m just getting round to it now.

After several weeks, sorry months, of cold, wet, windy weather the schools broke up for Spring Break and I felt so sorry for all those Mothers in particular who had to get hugely creative trying to fill the days entertaining their young ones indoors. It seemed the rain was never going to go away and it was never going to warm up. As for me, my shop was brimming over with chocolatey Easter treats and shoppers were staying warm and dry and firmly indoors. As Easter was especially late this year it’s usually better for trade however the cold weather deterred even the hardiest of shoppers till the last minute.

At the beginning of the week the forecasters were predicting a warm(er) dry spell for Easter weekend but was it true; could we believe it? Well, you have to be prepared, regardless, so Sweet Caroline and I started making ice cream on Tuesday to back up our freezer stock just in case it was a little drier at least. We even had a day off to relax on Wednesday because the weather was still cold and miserable. Thursday came and Easter gifts started flying off the shelves and there was a sense of optimistic anticipation that it was going to be a busy weekend. Ice cream production went into overdrive.

Then the sun came out in all its glory on Good Friday and boy was it good??!! Everyone and their granny descended on our little town to Explore Largs for Easter shopping, ice cream and a walk along the prom to soak up the rays. And it continued right through the holiday weekend whilst Adam and his merry bunch of men from Mills Dairies supplied us morning, afternoon and evening with milk and cream to keep our ice cream production going.

My award-winning Geraldo’s ice cream cabinet stocked and ready to go!

I’ve never seen the town as busy for a long time. It was like pre-recession days when everyone just wanted to get out and spend some quality time with family and friends. There was so much for families to do with Kelburn Estate organising Scotland’s Biggest Easter Egg Hunt. Many arrived on their bicycles and headed over to Millport after patiently queuing for hours for the ferry, despite CalMac putting on additional ferries.

It was glorious to see and a pleasure to serve you. Thank you to everyone who visited Largs and Sugar & Spice and I hope to see you back again sometime soon.