When you think of the dream job, what do you think about? How much money you’ll be earning? Who you’ll be working with? Who you’ll get to meet? What you’ll be able to learn? But do you give a thought to what you’ll actually be doing?

by Roopa Metha, Young Voices editor

Last year I got sent a job description for what I thought would be my dream job. It was in a research facility working with animals. For anyone who knows me, even those who don’t, my love of animals is blatantly obvious. You’re probably thinking why on earth someone who loves animals would consider working with a company that performs animal testing? Let me explain: the role required successful applicants to look after these animals, that is rodents and sea life, and ensure their welfare and safety. This includes making sure they weren’t being tested on too often, that they weren’t being over-bred and that their standards of living and maintenance was in good order and consistent. It seemed like this job was a chance for me to work with animals, something I’d wanted to do ever since I could remember.

So, I applied. Days turned into weeks and I hadn’t heard anything back. “I must have been unsuccessful,” I thought. After all, it did say in the job description that experience in the lab and some education on animals was “desirable”. Whilst I know a little bit about animals, particularly small animals such as my own pet guinea pigs, I didn’t have much experience working with them professionally. I decided to move on and set my hopes on something else. I applied for more jobs and just over a month later I suddenly heard back from the research company telling me that I have been offered an initial interview!

I was thrilled! I did a lot of research on the company, on the animals they keep, the policies and procedures they follow, on the affiliated organisations etc. I even put together about 90-odd pages of research material that I studied thoroughly. In addition, I did a ton of interview prep for the role and I was sure that I was totally prepared for everything!

First, I made sure I had an hour and a half to get there even though it was only 30 minutes away from my house. Halfway there, I realised that I’d forgotten my passport. I called in to let them know I was going to be late and managed to get there just 10 minutes after they’d started the written communications task. The other 6 candidates were already busy scribbling away whilst I sat down and opened the little booklet. Luckily, I still finished all the tasks and was ready to go on a quick tour around the facility.

My impression was that it all looked great! They were up-to-date on all the software and equipment for the animals and they seemed to be taking good care of them too.

After the tour we were told that we would learn whether we had made it through the first round within two working days. So, I waited… and waited… As I didn’t hear back from them by day three I grew concerned. Could it be that me coming late the other day had thrown such a bad light on me that they decided against me? The first set of the second round of interviews was supposed to start that day and as I really wanted the job I decided to email them. I was surprised to receive a reply the next day saying I had made it through the first round! I was really excited and pleased with myself.

I mainly prepared for giving examples of how my prior experience matches with what they were looking for as well as trying out different strategies to keep myself calm as I get nervous and anxious very easily.

This time, I got there 30 minutes early. I was surprised at how well it was going because this was only my 3rd interview in almost 3 years. Nevertheless, something felt wrong. This was going too well! The cat soon got out of the bag when they told me that one of the requirements to pass the probationary period was to euthanize i.e. kill an animal by breaking its neck. They said that would teach us how to do it during our training, but I already knew that I couldn’t live with myself if I killed an animal. As I couldn’t tell them directly I came up with an elaborate answer about how different neck sized would require a different amount of strength and that I would find that difficult.

Once again, we were told that they would send through their decision on who got the job within two days. On day 3 I emailed them again, thanking them for their time and consideration. They responded and, lo and behold, I got the job!

After a bit of back and forth for about a week where I wanted to find out why the essential requirement of killing animals hadn’t been made clear in the job description I decided against accepting it. In the end I don’t think that it would have been a good fit for me after all. There was something off in the interviewer’s reply, they knew what they were doing.

Whilst I do appreciate the aims of the company doing research on new medication against cancer, HIV, Down Syndrome etc., I do think that they could have been more honest in their initial job description. Saying “duties are xzy, but are not limited to…” just doesn’t cut it. This common practice in recruiting is bound to waste time and resources, theirs as well as the applicants’.

Young Voices is a platform for young care leavers to talk about issues that are close to their heart and to voice their opinions. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Drive Forward Foundation.