Monday I arrive punctually at 10:30am. Sheila, my work experience supervisor, takes me around the department (university press and publicity). I am given a rainforest of paper to go through, highlighting the university's name. I call my friend Hannah, who's been sweeping floors in the local hairdresser's. She's gathered enough local gossip to keep us going all year. I wish I was there.
Tuesday An "early" start at 9:30am. Sheila is astonished at how much highlighting I've done by the time she arrives. Uh, Duh! I've only been doing it for hours yesterday. I attend my first staff meeting. Everyone sits in a circle. Everyone says their piece. Could this be what they were preparing us for at nursery? Sheila worries that endless highlighting will "make me see funny". She gives me picture editing to do, rubbing out dots on a digital photo. I am "taught" to use the photocopier, with special emphasis on pressing the green button when lit. More highlighting. Lunch.
More photo editing.
Wednesday Now fully trained, I proceed as yesterday. Photocopy, picture-sort, highlight, type. If this is what university graduates do all day, what do those with mere GCSEs do? On the plus side, who wants to strain their brain when you can get paid for doing this all day?
Thursday Ditto Wednesday, except teacher comes to check. Sheila reveals I've cleared huge backlog of selection and photo editing. Teacher's pleased. I'm pleased. I'm taught to do press releases and write simple letters. Sheila insists on putting my name on the press release so it will appear on the website. I'm ridiculously pleased.
Friday The end of my time here. Pity. Late starts, dressing as I please, dead-easy work, compliments, nice "teachers", lunchtime shopping and hours of reading on the tube have grown on me. Not to mention the lovely people who thank me for my help, with chocolates and a card. On the tube home, I plan to tell my parents I'm giving university a miss. Work's much more fun, plus there's money in it. Then I remember I'll need a degree to operate the photocopier and highlight salient points in articles. What was I thinking?
The writer, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a Year 11 student in north London