Around 18 months ago I walked into McDonalds, presumably for a Big Mac. It was there that I saw my opportunity to volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics. I wasn’t looking deep into the dollop of special sauce, nor was I reading into the future revealed by scattily placed sesame seeds. I noticed up a leaflet which was on the counter, right in front of me. I had never been interested in volunteering or even the Olympics before, but at the time, I thought it could just be a fun thing to do. I picked up the pamphlet, shoved it somewhere and forgot about it for a few weeks.
During this time I had just finished my A Levels and I was starting a whole new stage of my life; what do I do with my time now school has finished forever? I had applied to UCAS and I was hoping to study media at Birmingham City University. A tough two years at sixth form had led me to accept that I might not get into university. Whilst waiting to hear back from my A Level results I spent the summer wallowing in the thought that I never have to endure education like that again. University was plan A. Plan B was blagging my way into a media career. Possible I suppose, but incredibly unlikely.
I applied to be a “Gamesmaker” as they called it on the London 2012 volunteer application. Looking through the possible roles I could carry out, I delved into Press Operations, specifically Public Relations as my first choice, Editorial second and general Press Operations as third. From the start I recognised that equality and diversity was going to be a major aspect of LOCOG’s (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) volunteer application. This was evident in the drop down menus of the application form. I was playing a game at this point. Who would they want me to be? This time I didn’t think straight white Christian female would do me any favours. Ethnicity: White British. Sexual Orientation: Bisexual. Belief: Buddhist. Bisexual Buddhist was sure to get me an interview and unsurprisingly, it did.
In June 2011 I attended an interview at the Excel Centre. Greeted by two individuals at a desk, I was advised to wait for my available slot. The space was constructed purely for the recruitment process. A bright, colourful, airy room looked out onto the London Docklands. A maze had been created from plastic walls decorated in the history of the Olympics from past to present. Following the maze with the small group I was, we were guided to another part of the maze where a video was shown. It featured the likes of Lord Sebastian Coe and Johnny Vegas; of course? It is only comparable to the training videos you might see when you start a new job. It ticked all the boxes, desperately humorous, relatable and obviously inspirational. Aside from the video, I was excited about this! It felt real, it was no longer just a topic I considered from time to time, something exciting could soon happen.
Moving on around the maze, I was directed to a small pod made from the same thin plastic walls. The space was big enough for two chairs. A smiling woman in her mid-fifties was sat waiting for me to enter. That was one thing I had noticed since arriving at the interview, I was the youngest out of all the applicants and staff that I had seen so far. The interview was in typical job style, “what has been your biggest challenge so far?” etc. Around 15 relatively easy to answer questions were thrown at me. The woman interviewing me was really warm and friendly; she made me feel immediately comfortable. After thirty minutes the interview was over. I left feeling confident and hopeful for the future as an Olympic Gamesmaker. A whole season later, in October 2011 I found out that I had successfully been accepted as a London2012 Games Maker.
Part 2 to follow next week.