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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.