Here is our monthly edition of our Agony Aunt column, brought to you by our very own Jade Benn. The questions below are a reflection of the most popular issues that our  writers have written in to us about.  This months topics relate to Career and Family.

Please continue to write to us about anything you wish and we hope to feature your concern in next months segment.

Q: I’ve been working in retail for the last 2 years, but it’s not what I want to do. The long hours the same routine, the terrible pay, it’s just not for me. I feel bad because I know there’s a lot of people who would want my job, but i don’t want a job, I want a career, where I can grow and build, maybe in a field that’s creative.

What should I do?

Find your feet in retail.

Find your feet whilst working in retail, create a plan that moves you from A to B.

A: It is a good thing that you want more for yourself and make a distinction between a job and a career. You don’t mention how old you are though, or the level if formal education you have attained or previous work experience so i’m not sure if everything I am about to say may be relevant. However, what I would say to you first is to write down what you want: the goal, what you need to get there, and the options available to you.By writing down your goals and some type of plan, you automatically set yourself a goal to start working towards.

For example, if your goal is to have a career as an Accountant, you’ll see that you need to qualify through CIMA, ACCA or ACA, but to start out you could get a job as an admin and accounts assistant if you have good A-levels or a degree. The company may offer to pay for your CIMA, ACCA or ACA course whilst you work for them, or you may have to fund one of these courses yourself. Additionally, if you are not able to get a paid opportunity within Accountancy or Finance, you could gain experience via a volunteering database such as or your local Council Volunteering Service, (CVS) where you can find a volunteer role that suits, although the opportunity may not be paid, you may get expenses such as travel reimbursements and a food allowance. Volunteering is a good way to get your food in the door and try something new and it may even lead to employment.

If you did not finish college, I would say start exploring two options: look in to a course that will help you achieve your career goal whilst you hold on to your retail job in order to earn extra money. Another option is to seek an apprenticeship that could provide a direct route in to your desired career. If you have completed both college and university, I would say persevere in your job – the more dissatisfied you are, the more motivated you are likely to be to achieve your ultimate goal, rather than changing your short term job which may make you more complacent. One way you can make the leap from job to career is to apply for internships to acquire experience, and invest your time in networking events. A sacrifice you may need to make to accommodate this may be reducing your hours at your current job.

Q: I have a brother on my dads side and we just can’t seem to get along. I try my hardest to make conversation with him but it always turns into an argument. We’re the same age, and share some mutual friends, but me and him just can’t get on well. How can we get along better, I want to be his friend as well as his step-brother.

What should I do?

One person needs to overlook the disagreements.

One person needs to overlook the disagreements.

A: The fact that you want to resolve things with your brother, and build a friendship with him is a good starting point. One thing that you will find in building and maintaining friendships and relationships is that it takes significant effort. No two friendships or relationships are ever the same, everyone is different, with different perceptions of the world and the people around them – which includes a perception of you.

Friendships and relationships are generally successful when a level of understanding is met between the two parties, but understanding can only come when at least one person decides to make the effort to understand the other person’s level of perception. Putting it more simply, and relating it to your situation, there maybe somethings that you and your step brother disagree on, and that’s fine, but one person needs to overlook the disagreements, to stop them from turning into arguments and it sounds like it’s gonna have to be you!If you start by not entertaining the arguing first, you’ll go some way to diffusing the situation because your step bro won’t have any one to continue arguing with. He will also be able to see something in you has changed – you are no longer arguing. This might encourage him to be more calm with you.

After a calm manner has been established between the two of you, make an attempt to speak to him retrospectively, for example, “do you remember when we were always arguing, what was that all about?”. This will hopefully start a conversation ending in the both of you understanding what the problem between the two of you was. Maybe you or he will consciously decide to make some changes thereafter, but if not just speaking about it will help to diffuse the situation. In terms of building a friendship, your efforts can’t stop there. You have to take an interest in him and the things he enjoys to create a mutual ground where you will begin to build a friendship. But start with diffusing – this is key! Good luck!

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