From Cabin Crew to Corporate Receptionist

Mary had made the decision – she’d decided to leave her life in the air and join the land lovers

So here I am with first-day-at-school nerves, just embarking on my new life in the city, starting work as a receptionist.

It happened quite suddenly; I was coming into land on a long haul flight one night and I just decided there and then, I couldn’t do it anymore; I needed a change.

Having flown as Cabin Crew for many years, and after 4 days of earlys, notching up over 60 hours (which meant getting up at 3.30am, scraping ice off my car, wearing full uniform including pulling my hair up into a bun and basically being groomed within one inch of my life ) enough was enough. Yes it was time to join the rest of the working population with more sociable hours (Well except, the Police, Doctors Nurses, but you get the picture!!.)

I emailed my cv (things had really changed these days, I was used to writing a cover letter to receive an application form, which basically made the whole process a lot lengthier.)

Within a few hours I received a call from Front Recruitment. They were impressed with my cv and wanted to meet me. I had taken the first step in leaving life in the cabin crew and a day later I was going for interviews, and soon I had landed a job as a corporate receptionist in the City.

The first thing that struck me was how friendly people were: when I went for my show around, people had time to talk to me and ask me questions. It was a far cry from someone tugging on my apron and asking for more milk.

The job involves a lot more than answering the phone; that is part of my role, but there is a lot more. During my first week, there were a few dinners so I stayed late, still not as late as I did when I was flying! And it was all a very social affair, with me and the other receptionist sipping champagne behind the desk, as we chatted to the waiters.

I think my biggest fear when I stopped flying was doing a job that would be like Groundhog Day, you know – the same thing everyday. With a receptionist job, no two days are ever the same. I’m not stuck behind a computer all day long, I’m meeting new people every day, the shift work adds even more variation, and the problems we face each day are always different.

One of the girls at my new job had flown for years before joining, so I can swap flying stories. Another real bonus is having the uniform and being involved in the choosing of it, as it changes every six months.

When I start my day (if I am on an earlies) there could be breakfast meetings to prepare for, so this involves checking the meeting rooms, making sure the pastries have arrived (similar to checking the catering on an Airbus, but without so many gaping mouths to feed.) Then I could be booking meeting rooms. The reservation of rooms takes skill and accuracy, if you book the wrong people into the wrong meeting room and they receive the wrong food – there’s a reasonable chance the clients in the meeting will feel unsure about the professionalism of the company as a whole. Emails and calls can come through thick and fast. You really need to be on the ball, be able to multi task and to know what’s going on. In a corporate receptionist environment the partners, executives or directors are a little like executive card holder passengers (on flights): they like to be made a fuss of, for example remembering what they drink or which room they prefer for their meetings.

From my experience in going for interviews before I accepted this position, shifts in companies can vary greatly. The shifts I do include a later shift, which means I have to be very flexible; so when the waitresses go home I make the drinks, show the clients to the rooms and inform the hosts their guests have arrived.In my company this means a little running around and there’s a chance I could fall behind with my admin if I don’t keep a careful eye on it all. Here there are three floors to run, which means sometimes going up and down stairs, whilst always remaining composed and professional, so I guess there are quite a few similarities between the two jobs: cabin crew and reception.

Anyone who has been crew or knows a few will tell you: their favourite pastime which I must admit I would join in with, is moaning. So the moaning and the tiredness have gone, bringing instead generally a better work-life balance.

It’s not all plain sailing. There are times when you’re rushing around and the phone doesn’t stop ringing and everything seems to be your fault (rather the same as when I was crew). Generally though I have more time: I actually get an hour for lunch where I can go to the gym, or meet a friend. I have just as much holiday (and look forward to flying off somewhere when I take it), get paid more and most importantly I have my life back, which includes weekends. So, I am generally happier all round.

With reception you kind of have to be a telephonist, PA, waitress and hostess all at the same time. Whereas, as crew, you have to be a fire fighter, police woman, waitress and nurse.

Take your pick.

By Mary

If you are looking for a receptionist job or FOH Management vacancy see our listings here… Receptionist Wanted!


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