Shall I continue? Absolutely!

A second child was on the way, and instead of checking with the HR department to see what’s up with maternity leave, I chose to stay home and not return to work (not immediately anyway).  I realized that staying home for 1.5 years raising children meant I might have a hard time returning to the workforce, but my choice was the best thing for my family and me.

When it was time for me to return to a paying job, I purposely did not pay any attention to want ads that weren’t placed by an A/E/C firm. No way, not even going to try any other industry. I was hooked from my first job with an A/E/C firm, and I absolutely, positively wanted to continue working for architects and engineers.  Absolutely!

Got hired by an A/E firm that was looking for a mail clerk.  Bottom rung in the office chain of positions? Well, duh!  Did I care? No way baby, I was in. (I do have to say it was one of the harder interviews I had.  The last question she asked me was, “What do you do well?”  Oh my goodness, I couldn’t think of a single thing!  She waited patiently for me to respond. I ended up saying that I was able to put a smile on my kids’ face, even if they woke up grumpy.  And I immediately groaned inward – who wants to hear something personal instead of something you do well that ties back to admin work? I was hired anyway; guess my other responses were just fine with her.)

Had a lot of fun at this firm. Couple of promotions. Chance to work on a big project. Opportunity to show what I could do with regard to providing administrative support to the office.

Lessons learned:

  1. Take a risk or two and do what you think will improve efficiency, even if it might only benefit one other employee.  Something I did:  While as the mail clerk, one of the bigwig architects was out of the office for a while.  His mail was piling up in his office; really piling up.  So I sorted it for him. Reading pile.  Action pile.  Made a number of piles to help him go through it more easily when he finally returned to the office (he did not have a dedicated admin to do this for him). He thanked me when he returned (but I did wonder for a bit if he thought I was a bit forward. I didn’t let that bother me; I knew what I did helped).
  2. Ask to help with tasks outside of your main responsibilities.  The firm had a word processing department and one of the tasks the word processors had to do was to transcribe Dictaphone tapes. Something I did:  I asked if I could try my hand at transcribing.  They let me try, and I got to do a few transcriptions on and off, as long as my other tasks – higher priority for me – were taken care of.  What did this do? It gave me a new skill set.
  3. Be very careful to not step on your manager’s toes.  I’ll tell you the “something I did” in my next post.  Follow my blog and stay tuned for Confession #1.

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