Andy shares with us his adventures that took him from Brazil to the UK, all while smashing expectations and feeling the fear and doing it anyway. He shows us that you really never know where you might end up or how far you can go if you don’t try. He shows us the importance human connection can have in all situations.
Thank you, Andy, for telling us your story.
Read on here for this installment of #CareerAdventures!
Tell us about yourself
One day my mother was called into school by one of the teachers. In one of our exercises, we had to paint a frog. Everyone painted their frog green, yet mine? I painted it red. The teacher asked and told me that frogs are green and not red, and I replied with “Well…mine is!”. When meeting my mother, the teacher said, “Your child will be a difficult one…”. By that point, I should have known I was going to set the world for disappointment.
My parents had laid out my whole career for me. My father who was poor wanted to make sure we would have an easier time in life, however – rebellious little me – felt that my choice was taken away by that. So, my career started when I was about 15, assisting my parents in their business. A foundry/metalworks making pieces and parts for trucks and vehicles. I never quite got along with my brother so that didn’t last long.
My best subject at school was English (as a second language), so a few years later I started working as an English as a Second Language teacher. I really enjoyed helping people and teaching, you’d get in touch with people from different backgrounds and abilities. Did I tell you at that time I had bleached my hair platinum? Yeah, rebel rebel…
Following that I had a few uninteresting jobs working in bars until I decided to come to London from Brazil. That took a while but over here I had my first job as a “bus boy” at a nightclub. The deal there was to just collect dirty cups, help with cleaning…easy stuff. The day the toilet got blocked and I was (forcibly) asked to help, I quit. They asked me to use a “crane” type thing to remove the “bits” from the toilet and put it in a bag. I cried that night, if there was a day that I have ever felt close to Cinderella that must have been it. Seeing people coming into the club all dressed up while I was there…dancing with “Crane”. Ew.
I then worked at a restaurant as a “bar back” (or apprentice bartender) – the job wasn’t bad, the people were super friendly, and we had shots behind the bar. It felt good to be part of “something”, like a little wild pack. The people there were from all over too – I still remember “Pete”, the Hungarian guy full of tattoos with a heart of gold and “Kasia”, the Polish woman who could drunk you under the table.
I also worked as a Night Room Service order taker (which on a positive side note got me serving Iggy Pop! On a more negative one, there once was a crime scene…and I became a suspect like something out of Cluedo). I also worked at a couple of restaurants waiting tables, which is also fun. The people are nice – I worked at a mobile phone shop (which taught me the importance of Facebook privacy settings for endless reasons!). I worked previously for a few months in recruitment and then back again for a big retailer hiring staff for Christmas (and got congratulated for it too, but I found the job wasn’t for me). I worked briefly for a bus company, also worked briefly for an incredible independent coffee shop (with a rude name!) where I met some of the best friends I’ve made in London and also Transport for London (I can name that one – really proud of it still!) and now….
What are you working on now?
Well… now I’m a Police Officer! I’d have never thought in a million years…!
Could you tell us about how your career adventure(s) started, about what experiences, challenges or opportunities you came across over the years that led you to choose your own adventure? Where has your career adventure taken you in the past leading you to where you are now?
I never had a straight approach to my career, I felt that if I gathered different experiences that they’d all help me get somewhere through transferring skills. Over the years, I’ve learnt from my experiences that I really, really like to help people. I volunteered with an incredible service helping people struggling with mental health issues, substance addiction and being LGBT+ and I also volunteered at Transport for London leading the LGBT+ Staff Network. I’ve met people from different backgrounds. I’ve started to appreciate their experiences and being able to understand different cultures and experiences to my own. I’ve met a few police officers in the past who said I should join the service. I never saw myself as a police officer, but when I met a few more and they also suggested, I felt I should at least try it (and I did – as a “joke” initially thinking I’d never get through it!). Thinking back now, I wish I had not gone into University (I studied Journalism) and had started a career with the police earlier on.
What past projects or anything that you have worked on spark joy for you when you look back at what you have worked on?
The volunteering – you meet some incredible people wanting to make positive changes in the world. They’re not expecting money and they’re donating the most valuable thing anyone owns – time. Time is so precious, and you need to have your heart into something for it to be worthwhile.
How do you choose what to work on?
I follow my heart and my conscience – over the years I got to know myself better so I know that some causes are very dear to me. Letting young people know it’s okay to be LGBT+ and that they’re also deserving of love and respect. Mental Health…I like to make people feel good. I have a very hedonistic view about life, so part of the reason why I became a police officer is to bring some solace to those who fall into unfortunate situations.
What advice, practical or otherwise, would you give to someone looking to start a career adventure similar to your own?
Test the grounds, learn about yourself and meet new people. Some of my friends helped me find out incredible things about myself. When I started going out as an officer, I didn’t believe it was for me, I felt terrified. Putting myself out into the uncomfortable, feeling the fear and still doing it changed me as a person. I actually now enjoy the feeling! As Carrie Fisher once said: “Stay afraid but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident, just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
In my experience, a career is a marathon not a sprint and trust in a little magic.
Some of my favourite Disney quotes:
“Sometimes the right path, is not the easiest one.” – Grandmother Willow, Pocahontas
“Always let your conscience be your guide.” – Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio
“The flower which blossoms in adversity is the most beautiful of all.” – The Emperor, Mulan
“You don’t have time to be timid. You must be BOLD, DARING!” – Lumiere, Beauty and the Beast
Could you describe your day-to-day at “the office(s)”?
It depends! In policing the days aren’t really the same – I’ve only been doing it for a month but everyday has been different so far. In some days I’m part of an operation tackling a problem in a specific area, I can be making a presence in a place to help people feel safe. I can be attending an incident to gather information – wherever I’m needed and directed, I go. Next week I’ll be working in Emergency Response, which means going out in a vehicle to places where people have called 999.
Where do you feel you work best and thrive the most?
I feel that I work well with other people – in my training my tutors said I’m really good at communicating and I have a lot of experiences (good and bad) that are useful when dealing with others. It comes in handy when you’re trying to avoid a situation from escalating or trying to get someone to calm down. If people can sympathise with you, they’re less likely to see you as a problem or a threat.
What inspires and drives you every day?
Knowing that my presence can make someone feel safe. I play a game at work – I smile at everyone I see and try to get a smile back whenever possible. I’d like people to know I’m there to support them and no one should really be scared of me (or the police), unless they’ve done something they shouldn’t have. I feel that the drive I have is to get the feeling that I’ve helped someone today – even if a colleague or a friend. I’m also a runner and I like to show people that as a LGBT+ Athlete, your body can do incredible things!
What advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know now?
Believe in yourself – you’ll go through some really tough bits in life but that’s because you’re strong enough to pull through it. When things seem bleak, always remember the hope that tomorrow can bring and with it another day. You can fall 100 times but take your time and get up 101. You’ll luckily know some great people who’ll lend you a hand whenever you need to get up again.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about any of our career adventure stories. Come back soon to read more career adventures! Contact us here if you’d like to be featured here to share your own career adventures story.