What the heck is a “consulting engineer”?

Ready to go back to work after my son turned one. I knew what kind of work I didn’t want to do: anything retail, or anything in the medical profession (not that there’s anything wrong with those professions). I was interested in maybe working in a law firm, if I could get in. Wait, what’s this Help Wanted ad? A firm in downtown Seattle was looking for an office clerk. And specifically, a consulting engineer firm needed help. Say what?  I had no idea what a consulting engineer was or what they did. But the job responsibilities detailed in the ad….I knew I could do that. Called them up, got an interview, and luckily for me, they didn’t ask me if I knew what type of work they did. (If I asked them, what the heck do you consulting engineers do, would they have hired me?  I don’t know, but I knew I wasn’t going to ask and I knew I should act like, “oh yeah, I know exactly what consulting engineers do.”)

Hired, by a consulting engineer firm! My first job after staying home for a year raising a very cool kid.

The first day of work, the woman I was replacing (she was leaving because she was pregnant) was a no-show. Turns out she was sick (for the entire week) and thus for my first week of work, I had no formal training of what I was supposed to be doing (they planned to have the pregnant woman give me hands-on training that first week). The office manager tried showing me things to do. She showed me a “transmittal form” and told me to just leave that there until the pregnant woman returned to work. First time I’d ever seen a transmittal form. But I knew what to do with it.  (Remember I mentioned in my first post that I had seemingly natural office-type work talents?) I really did. I knew that the form was in the to-be-filed pile and that the project number shown pointed the way to where it was supposed to be filed. (What I didn’t know was why the office manager wasn’t able to tell me that. Either she didn’t want to, or she didn’t know herself. Note to that office manager, if you are reading this:  I’m not knocking you.)

I also knew that the cc list at the bottom of the transmittal meant that those people were to have gotten a copy of the form, so I asked her if I needed to make the cc copies, but she said that was already taken care of.

I told the office manager I knew what to do with the form, so….I just took care of it. Wouldn’t you have done the same? Any good admin would have (even inexperienced as I was).

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