July 23, 2019

My Career – Tonisha Tagoe (The Paper Girl)

Tonisha Tagoe
Tonisha Tagoe

Today our blog comes from GSM Teaching Fellow Tonisha Tagoe who recounts her first venture into the world of work as a paper girl!  

I’d like to tell you a story about my first job and how it became the roadmap for a life of adventure and joy. As a child, I knew that working was important, but I’d always imagined I would do one job for life as I had seen others do. Little did I know that I was part of something new.  They call us Generation Y.  We can do anything and everything apparently!

So, I am currently an Entrepreneur working in the Creative and Digital industries and since completing my Oil and Gas Management Degree I work full time as a Teaching Fellow at GSM London. I have had 4 long term permanent roles, in education provision, curriculum design /management and access to positive activities for young people. Alongside this work, I have had an interesting journey as an artist and creative entrepreneur. I’d like to tell you how my 1st job shaped my professional adventures.

“Being spontaneous brings rewarding clarity to your work and life”. 

When I was younger all I wanted to do was earn money. All the adults went to work all day and made money and I wanted to do that too, but I didn’t have all day and so, I asked the local shopkeeper if there was a job that I could do. To my amazement he let me be the ‘Paper Girl’. All I needed to do was wake up, be at the shop by 6am and write down the delivery addresses on the top of each paper so that the delivery ‘boys’ could pick them up at 6.30 and deliver them!

No one had seemed to like doing that part of the process so I got £5 for each boy’s round that I labelled, and then £5 from the shop so in all I got paid £20 per week and I loved it! I really thought this was it and that I’d found my calling. Tonisha The Paper Girl!

*We have so much to learn from the mistakes we make each day as well as the mistakes of others”. 

It was really hard work!! Some houses were getting The Times or The Economist, whilst some just wanted the free papers (but complained if they didn’t get one) while others were waiting for The Guardian or Financial Times to read with their morning coffee. Unfortunately for some reason each house seemed to change the paper they wanted every week.  As a result, I made regularly made mistakes, but accepted them as part of my new ‘career’ but I wasn’t feeling as good as I had hoped.  I asked myself “was this what ‘working’ was really like?

Tonisha – The Paper Girl (& occasional mistake maker). 

Trying something new is a big boost to our self-confidence. Along with proving you won’t fail, a change of direction ups your self-worth and I felt great after surviving every fail! I would go to work every morning anticipating if there was going to be any news about someone receiving the wrong paper or not getting any at all!

So I asked my ‘boss’, the shopkeeper if he was sure he wanted me to continue because everyone seemed so upset with their papers lately and he responded with laughter.

He said ‘Toni, you have the worst job. You have to be at the shop at 6am and use your brain with full concentration to label papers for delivery. Why do you think no one else likes to do the task? Whoever does will make mistakes, so don’t feel bad about the mistakes, just get better at the apology and try not to make the same mistake twice.

Every new change takes courage, resulting in a boost of confidence. Most of us avoid change because doing something unfamiliar is uncomfortable and I was a little down with this feeling of failure. But he was right; mistakes are commonplace. They are part of how we learn. Never making the same mistake twice really meant I had learned from each one.

Taking risks is tough, so leaning on your friends is a must. This is when I started to ask questions. The paper boys got it first! I asked everything about the route lengths, the timing, how they rode bikes and delivered papers into letterboxes. And 2 years later I started doing my own deliveries. My first promotion and pay rise! My mum hated it, she was hoping I would have grown bored but I had saved up for a bike, and I was going to see THE WORLD!

When I turned 15, my boss encouraged me to get a Saturday job in the Greek salon down the road as I could earn more in 1 day than he was paying me in a week (£50) and he felt guilty, but I didn’t want to leave as I was good at my job and we had gone through so many paper boys that there really wasn’t anyone that knew as much as I did. So I stayed on to train one of the new employees and then handed in my notice and left.  This is honestly still one of the saddest days of my life.  I had never thought that I would be changing direction so early on in life and I didn’t want to leave what I knew so well and did so well.

In conclusion we start with lofty dreams and ideas about what we will do and how well it will go but the world does as it will. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and enjoy each moment, and then know when to leave and move on.

In Generation Y we are lucky to be a part of the future….and to have the opportunities we have been given.

We must ensure we take them.


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