Progress is progress, whether it occurs in large or small doses. While I haven’t yet reached my career goal of securing a writing job, I have made significant progress in my status as an administrative assistant. To understand this, you must realize the levels of administrative roles and the degrees of responsibility they entail. A receptionist, for example, may not have the high stress of catering to an executive’s every want and need, but she may be subject to juggling a stream of phone calls, greeting/directing visitors, finding available conference rooms, etc. Thus, some may deem the receptionist tier of administrative work the lowest rung of the ladder.
This same group might view executive assistants as the cream of the crop, the untouchables (in the elite sense, not in the Indian caste-system sense), the gatekeepers to the wealthy shareholders running the corporate show. They are polished, professional, and terrific at delegating.
I’ve fallen somewhere in the middle of these ranks. I’ve worked the front desk and fetched coffee for CEOs. I’ve washed dishes after lunch meetings and been privy to confidential information. I’ve been trusted with sensitive business matters while expected to do a lot of grunt work. Maybe I should appreciate being utilized in various capacities; perhaps this indicates my value as a worker. On the other hand, I’m tempted to view at as abuse. “Oh, give it to Suzanne. She’ll do it.” That’s how I imagine higher-ups solving the problem of mundane, but necessary, office chores. For example, I was once recruited to drive the company Escalade back from the shop. The CEO asked me instead of asking his pretty assistant. He was probably afraid she’d scuff her Louboutin heels on the side rail of the vehicle. After being irritated by his request, I looked at it as a chance to escape the office and cruise Highway 101 in a shiny, black SUV.
I recently left a contract secretary gig for a chance to work in HR. I’m sorry I made this move. At my contract position, I was left alone, went to lunch whenever I wanted, close enough to home to be able to walk to work, and didn’t worry about work when not at the office. Now, I’m learning a lot, but it’s at the expense of being micro-managed and stressed about making major errors with employee benefit cases or payroll information. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
If I stay positive, I can look at this new role as progress toward a more defined position. I’ve also realized that HR is not for me. In its own way, that alone is progress.