My Life

My Ask Jules Undergraduate Experience – Part 2

First year at DMU Hiring a Morning Carer

For my first year at De Montfort University (DMU), a family friend took the PA role so we just had to look to see if we could find a morning carer who would assist me every morning, getting up, washed and dressed before going to University. Constructing a more detailed job advert and description, we sent it to Ask Jules and waited for applicants to come in.  

Together with my parents, we glanced through the CVs and applications Ask Jules fed to us and narrowed it down to four applicants whose personalities we thought matched with me and arranged interviews at a local hotel in Leicester.

The Applicants: Alicia, Hannah, Andromeda and Millicent

The first applicant, Alicia, was nice and I fitted the criteria of whom we were looking for. However I did find her very timid and hesitant, she was too nervous and in turn, would make me too nervous on a daily basis so I ruled her out. Hannah, the next applicant was older than the other applicants I chose to interview for the role. She was a mother of two, who coincidently had attended or been attending De Montfort University. Already having a high experience as a carer and had worked with people with similar needs so she had a relative understanding of what was needed and then being a mother meant she had good experience of getting stubborn people out of bed. In all, I did get a strong vibe off her and would consider her for the role, but the connection wasn’t entirely there between us. 

My parents and I continued the interviews and I immediately felt a connection with the third applicant, Andromeda,  she was a similar age to me and the chat between the two of us flowed easily. She also made me laugh a couple of times which was a huge tick. It was clear that she had thought a lot about the role in detail and clearly understood the commitments involved. Andromeda had clearly made preparations ahead of the interview if she was to get the position which I admired and comforted me greatly. The two of us chatted for a long time and I could feel a friendship already starting.  I think she felt the same, we both wanted to see each other as friends rather than carer and client. After she left, I shortlisted her for the role and couldn’t shake the positive vibe I got off her. This then left me to make a decision between Hannah and Andromeda.   

Upon the arrival of the fourth applicant, Millicent, I felt I had unconsciously made a decision on whom I wanted to take the role, but I still wanted to meet this applicant. My parents and I thought she was a nice woman who understood what was expected of her. The interview ended up being quite short and towards the end of the interview, the applicant informed us she would be unavailable for the first two weeks of the academic year. We had to rule her out straight away, this issue would be the course of unnecessary stress.

As I travelled home, I thought about Hannah and Andromeda and which one would best suit the

role. The two of them had the same capabilities for fulfilling the position well but it came to whom I felt the strongest connection. Just by this, I knew there was really no contest. I informed the Ask Jules representative that I wanted to offer Andromeda the role of my morning carer. I asked to speak to her myself and she was shocked but pleased and to my delight, she accepted the position. My decision was definitely the right one as she remained with us for all three years at De Montfort University.

Andromeda & Sophie

Hiring Carers – Round 2 – The One with Treacle

In my second year at DMU, I had to recruit two new PAs. Thinking through everything that had happened over the last few experiences, we decided to hire two PAs to work on an alternate week basis. One week on. One week off. I used the original advert and job description, but was sure to update them both drastically so they both reflected myself then and there with added details of my personality.  

We passed the details on to Ask Jules and they began to search for suitable candidates for the two positions. They then narrowed them and fed us the CVs and other relevant information. I wanted to find candidates who were reliable, flexible, social, patient, determined, be forward thinking, organised, open to try new things, easy going, be a good time keeper, confident, efficient, problem solver, creative thinker, have creative ideas, compassionate, good listener, bubbly and have a sense of humour! 

A person’s social media can tell a lot more about a person than an application and CV can, we didn’t mean any harm or intrusion but we wanted to get a better feel of their personalities. Using these extra details, my parents and I narrowed it down to a handful of applicants, two of whom had knowledge and experience in journalism and despite drop-outs including an applicant who studied the same course at the same University, I tried to remain positive. 

The Applicants: Bellatrix, Ginny and Luna

The first of the three applicants, Bellatrix gave a good first impression, I felt I would really get on with her, she came across as fun, laid back, kind and caring. We shared a number of interests with each other and I felt a connection and friendliness straight away. I had an instinctive feeling that we would have a good laugh and good times, creating memories as well as the support she would give me with my studies already having journalism experience and knowledge which would benefit me in my degree. I also felt she would encourage me to try new things and have new experiences. 

Ginny, the second applicant was slightly older than myself and was about to enter her third year at De Montfort University—studying fine art. The two of us loved the Harry Potter franchise as well as sharing interests in other hobbies. However, her just starting her third year did worry us. Ginny reassured me that she would fit her coursework on the weeks she was not working but it was going to be an ongoing worry of mine of how well things were going to balance. I knew that third year requires a lot of commitment and we feared that she would struggle to balance the job and her University commitments. Although we had our concerns, we still decided to consider her for the role.

The final applicant, Luna was very bright and outspoken, efficient, organised, focused and other skills needed in the role.  One who knew her mind. In her free time, she worked on her own media profiles and influences including blogging, websites and VLOGGING. This caught my interest as she was she could help me develop my own blog and create a VLOG of my own to add it to my website. Being able to include videos on my blog would allow me to vent my frustration through the use of video and express my feelings and thoughts. Then, Luna had a high level of journalism experience and knowledge like Bellatrix which could prove very beneficial within my course. 

The Decision Process

After all the interviews and the applicants left, my parents and I sat down with the Ask Jules representative and discussed the three applicants that we had just interviewed on that day. Though I did like Ginny, her studying in her third year at the same time was a dominate worry in the equation. It was too much of a risk, both for me and Ginny. Unfortunately, as a result, I did not offer Ginny either role. Bellatrix and Luna were similar in both having the love and backgrounds in the worlds of journalism, having a key eye for a good story. I really liked how the two applicants also had two different personalities which showed me I could have two types of weeks with each of them at University which would make University life more interesting. Therefore, I offered Bellatrix and Luna the two vacancies as my PAs. 

I told the Ask Jules representative of my choice and they informed the candidates of our decision in which they accepted. Luna and Bellatrix were joining Andromeda, my morning carer and myself for the coming year. 

Ask Jules then helped us by organising the training day with me, my morning carer, Andromeda and my parents at my halls of residence at De Montfort University. It was good to see them again and get to know them before the academic year began at University. 

Training Process 

On the training day, my parents and I broke my whole routine down, from getting up, washing, dressing, showering, things we did on daily basis, both socially and care wise before showing them my bedtime routine. It was important to show them there was two sides to the job, the care and the fun, more day to day. My parents and I were careful to demonstrate the necessary equipment such as my wheelchair, hoist and shower chair as well as others. My mother had the idea of the PAs to get an idea of what it would be like to be me, allowing them to practice hoisting each other, learning how to hoist someone and what it feels like to be hoisted, putting so much trust in someone else, therefore gaining a better understanding of the job. We then decided to have them all sit in my wheelchair, steer and drive it around, it was quite amusing to watch.

At the end of the training day, I felt good and was ready to start my second year.

Hiring Carers – A Bump in the Road

Just after I started back at University at Christmas, I received the news that both my PAs had officially handed in their resignations. I was sad to hear this, but suspecting a few issues that had taken place in semester one, I had a feeling it would happen. Unlike before at Solent University, I had grown and spoke to Ask Jules to see if they can help me resolve the issues as easily as we could but though I thought we had, the resignations still came – for what exact reason I do not know.   

Unfortunately, the timings of them handing their resignations just after Christmas become problematic as I had just started classes again and I had to start juggling everything which made everything much more difficult. My coursework had to take a backseat and it felt the strain as I had to leave things until the last moment, taking toll on me mentally and emotionally. This led to deferrals of deadlines and me completing my deadlines the following summer but luckily my tutors were so understanding.    

Open photo

Ask Jules began the re-recruitment process, using the same advertisement and job description with a few added details. Meanwhile, Andromeda, my long standing morning carer was very kind as she helped us out as best she could. To provide us with extra support, Ask Jules arranged for a series of temporary PAs from those they had nearby and would be in the best position to help me. The plan was that Andromeda would help me during the day in my classes and the temporary PAs would assist me during the evenings and nights. I won’t lie, it did give me a lot of anxiety as I didn’t know these PAs or who was coming from one day to the next and was nervous that they wouldn’t be able to help me in the way I needed. But I had to put a lot of my trust in Ask Jules that they knew that they were doing and I am so glad I did, they tried their best to match us up as best they could with the experience they had with assisting students with similar needs. This put me at ease as I just had to walk them through my individual routine.  

A tight schedule approached and Ask Jules and I searched for suitable replacements for Bellatrix and Luna. I began speaking to Ask Jules more regularly as we became even more frantic as we spoke to and arranged interviews with potential candidates. There were setbacks as some candidates rearranged or cancelled interviews at last minutes. I tried my best to remain calm as I interviewed, sure to think things through and not pressure myself to find and hire the first person we interviewed, just because I had too.

Hiring Carers – Round 2.5 – The One with Eclair

No description available.

Finally, and much to my relief as we were really on borrowed time, Ask Jules managed to secure three interviews for the same day. The pressure did mount as I  really didn’t want to make the same mistakes as last time and just have a repeat of what had already happened. I needed to find two great candidates to fulfil the roles with whom I had a connection, in such a tight time frame and, with my parents unable to travel up for the interviews, I was severely worried. We couldn’t delay anymore and needed the candidates to start almost immediately. I wanted to do everything in my power to find two strong candidates. On the day of the three interviews, I tried my best to conduct them with a fresh, open mind as I got to know the applicants. 

The first applicant of the three, Minerva, was very cheerful and friendly. She gave most of the right answers to the questions I asked and made a good impression on me. We chatted for a long time which gave me a good sense of her personality, with her previously studying at De Montfort University which made me feel hopeful. Narcissa, the second applicant was good and was friendly, however, the connection wasn’t there, mostly down to her only understanding and focusing on the care area of the role. As we interviewed the third applicant, Lavender, I felt the atmosphere shift as she was very different from Narcissa and more like Minerva. Lavender was quite chatty and friendly, open to trying new things and had a clear understanding of the job role.  

No description available.

After the three interviews, I had a long think and I decided to hire Minerva and Lavender. Following this decision, I was so pleased that they accepted the two positions and I was able to continue the year without too much drama and some fun. 

Hiring Carers – Ding. Ding. Round 3

I began to recruit two new PAs to be my side, creating experiences and memories as I studying in my final year at De Montfort University (DMU). 

My parents and I decided to use the same routine and schedule as we have done before and we prepared to begin everything.  Not long before we began the process, Andromeda who had been with me throughout my time at De Montfort asked to fill one of the positions and I was more than willing, so I began the search to find a strong person to fill the role and work alongside us in my final year at DMU. Applicants began trickling in but no one we felt would be a good fit for me, Leicester wasn’t the most popular location for candidates to apply. Then we found the CVs and letters of what appeared to be strong candidates. 

The Applicants: Nymphadora 

Nymphadora was the only one my parents and I interviewed face to face. She was kind and friendly but also seemed shy and quiet. Nymphadora had care experience and seemed at ease when we spoke about my care needs that were detailed in the job description and then spoke about how she could support me with my studies, including my final dissertation. I watched her come out of her shell as told many stories from her own University journey, including many travel adventures. A few personality traits matched, blogging, going out, watching Netflix and she seemed capable of what the role would require her to do. I liked this about Nymphadora, with how close she was to her family and her capability for the job. I felt happy, but I had something in my mind that I could not shake. 

The Applicants: Hermione

Hermione and Sophie

The interview with the next applicant, Hermione, was fantastic, though we conducted the interview online, I immediately got a very strong vibe off of her. Hermione and I chatted for ages like we had known each other for years. She was bubbly, confident, out-going and very upbeat, she ticked so many boxes without trying to. We covered the serious side of the role and though she did not have care experience, I was fine with this, training would be provided on getting the job, the connection was more important.  She was very responsible, punctual and organised, helping me with my studies and dissertation, this was a relief to me. Hermione studied a creative degree at De Montfort University. It pleased me greatly, she could show me things I didn’t know about the University and around Leicester. She could also coach me gently as I went through my third year and motivate me to reach the finishing line. Her cooking skills were good having lived in halls of residence and I looked forward to try her recipes, including chicken in coke and Fanta. 

I heard that she had read a few job descriptions that Ask Jules had given her a few job descriptions and she preferred mine over others she read and I felt honoured that she chose mine. I really felt our personalities matched, she was bubbly and fun and open to try new things and this really showed in her personality.  

Hermione loved to do hair and make-up, and I loved this. I’ve always wanted someone, who was really interested in hair and makeup to do mine, as well as her own, creating costumes, putting together outfits, before going out to bars, clubs and other social events. She loved the lighter side of life, to relax with a good film or watching everything Harry Potter and Netflix as well as blogging and anything creative. 

I was ready to make a decision when the  Ask Jules representative informed me there was another possible applicant ready for an interview. 

The Applicants: Lily

We interviewed Lily, the third applicant online, she came across as confident, kind and smart, just like the other two applicants that I interviewed, she had thought about the role. The conversation flowed well and her personality traits shined through. Confidence, smart, positivity as well as other traits that I liked.  She seemed a calm and happy person who was well focused and I could see why she would be a good fit for the job. Then she was able to show a fun, more relaxed side in her enjoyment of exploring the city or going to bars and clubs, also to watch Netflix often. The only downside was that she hadn’t watched Harry Potter, but I knew I could have rectified this. 

The Decision 

My parents and I spoke for a long time with the Ask Jules representative about these potential candidates. All of the three applicants had a good understanding of the role and seemed capable of the role. Next, I thought about my care needs, Nymphadora was the only one of the three who had care experience but this didn’t matter to me as training would be provided on the job. They also had similar, if not the same, positive traits of being punctual and organised and efficient as well as having great traits that they could bring to the role. They all were confident, kind, friendly, smart women and this showed during the interviews. I loved how each of the applicant’s personalities matched my own in different ways. Love or no love for Harry Potter aside, I had to now stop distinguish each vibe from the others. Here, I had to say goodbye to Lily. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel a strong vibe, compared to the vibe I felt for the others. 

From here, I thought about everything that we would do inside and outside of class. No matter how many times I thought about it, Hermione kept coming to mind, her core virtues shining through. Hermione gave me a strong positive vibe from the beginning and we chatted as we had known each other for years, laughing and joking as she understood all the parts of the role, personal support, university support as well as going out. She had a good balance between academia, helping me with my dissertation. Having a friend to try them with is all the more encouraging and fun. I have anxieties about trying new things, so it was a coincidence and a reassurance that she went to and graduated from De Montfort University only a year ago. At the same time, she loves staying in watching Netflix and films but also loved going out into the city at night, pursuing new and exciting opportunities during my third year. I felt Hermione will enable me to do everything I wanted to. 

Our personalities were a dead match and we had a strong connection, it really was a no-brainer. I asked an Ask Jules representative to contact Hermione and offer her the role to join Andromeda and me for my third year. I am delighted to say that Hermione has accepted the role!

A Successful End

Despite some emotional setbacks and many challenges at the beginning of third year at DMU, I would say it was the best year of my undergraduate degree. Hermione and I had a lot of fun together, we were able to study hard during the day on my final dissertation, (the library sessions were a killer) and then draw that line and party hard at night.  

Hermione knew how to kick ass and keep me on schedule. My dissertation was the most difficult assignment and she helped me keep upbeat as she helped me structure it, kept me calm, focused and efficient in those long library weekend study sessions. Then it was all the more fun and rewarding as we drew a line and forgot about the academia just for a bit and partied in very valuable downtime.      

  All work and no play makes for one unhappy camper. We were able to have a fun night in Leicester, at Mosh nightclub, a popular student nightclub. Some good music and cheap entry and drinks. A good combination for someone on a student budget. 

More memorable nights as we enjoyed a student experience in which we loved and made the most of every second. I loved going out to freshers events and the Halloween ball, creating costumes and doing make-up ready for the night. 

I can’t quite put into words everything that went on in my third year but I am so proud of what opportunities I was able to have in third year and I was able to finish my undergraduate degree with a 2.1.  DMU was great and such an achievement! 

Sophie Graduation

Read more in part one of my Ask Jules Undergraduate Experience

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