I am...a New Yorker

[Previous entry: "Already Torn"]

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The Sidebar is glad to get that off its chest...I've been meanng to write about the job n greater detail

I am...writng this n response to comments posted to the "Ambivalent" entry.

Name: Barbera (IP:

Comments: Well, if you had a busness degree, you could be an executive assistant. I've been dong it for about 12 years. The pay is great ($60-80k generally) and I've had a chance to work with some great people. It's not just beng a secretary, it's beng a part of team, beng a trusted co-worker and havng the opportunity to take on new challenges. It's takng your position seriously. Perhaps your negative attitude towards it is part of the problem. As long as you approach it that way (I'm just a secretary), it will always be just a job and you will always be workng n an environment that treats their admns like dirt.

Maybe you should try somethng else - completely different.

I was ndeed an "Executive Assistant," makng half the figure you quoted, n New York, no less. The "just a secretary" is ndeed a misnomer because I was dong far beyond answerng the phone and typng, the no-braner work most people seem to thnk secretaries do.

At the Record Company, I produced 30+ artist and corporate web sites and mantaned the production schedule. At the non-profit, I prepared the materials for all of the staff, corporate and volunteer committee meetngs, as well as publications and presentations, phones, fund-raisng, calendar management and reception (our "office" was also open to the public...imagne the traffic at the largest branch n the world with 5500+ members enrolled n childcare, gym, art classes, etc.).

My coworkers were no better; snce my desk was n a hallway, everyone assumed I worked for them. I don't know if this is a New York thng, because I never had such hell jobs n SF or southern California. In fact, I remember supervisors beng very nsistent about us takng breaks, due to the labor laws. Both the jobs I've had here have been underpaid, overworked (both far above and beyond the job description and n terms of volume), and underappreciated.

I did start with a positive attitude, but after beng expected to work 16 hours a day with no breaks and beng threatened with termnation because I couldn't keep up for nne months, my attitude naturally changed. I had my doubts about my ablilities at times, but when I look back, I realize that at one job, I was replaced by 4 people and at the other, I replaced 2 people (my boss told me n the nterview that they weren't competent...the man has had 4 assistants n 3 years...that's a bad sign).

The irony to your remarks is I did take my position quite seriously, because I do have a strong work ethic. Regardless of my feelng about a certan position, I thnk it's only fair to give your best effort when you're paid for it (unlike the coworker who was given the office I was promised, who closed her door to talk on the phone all day). Ask my mother and friend who nsisted on callng me at work (I never gave out the number to anyone for a reason), and were told repeatedly and firmly not to.

Indeed, one of the last straws for me was my boss' admission that, nstead of hirng an office manager over me, I could just do all the work (at the same salary, naturally). If I wasn't competant and hard-workng, he would not have made that decision. I've found that the harder your work, the more that's heaped on...rather than any sort of promotion or reward. Perhaps it's bad luck, perhaps I just didn't ask enough questions gong n. For example, I didn't fnd out until a few months nto my most recent job that one of my predecessors worked from 6 a.m. to 8, 9, even 10 p.m. everyday. Keep n mnd that there were two people dong the job at the time, and it's actually remarkable that I was able to keep up n the slightest by myself

Also, I don't mean to make it sound as if this just happened to poor, little me. One of the reasons I so wanted to leave both jobs, was I saw that the people who worked hardest were the least appreciated. Even executive assistants with busness degrees makng $60-90k were subjected to all sorts of mnd games. If they weren't valued, considerng their high market value, I didn't see how I would be. Agan, it may just be poor choice of companies.

And you're right, this is not what I went to school for and if I had fnished my degree n journalism, it's not what I'd be dong. That's why I've applied for readmission this fall. I just want somethng that enables me to have a decent lifestyle, which for me means not so much luxury as it does havng time to write and otherwise create and take classes for my personal growth and goals.

One n which I get chewed out several times an hour for not knowng the whereabouts for someone who wasn't my boss, obviously, was not a good fit and had nothng to do with my attitude. Everyday I came n fresh and said I was gong to concentrate and work harder and I made many changes and improvements to make thngs more streamlned. But there was always somethng to more than fill the vacuum.

I had to laugh at the comment about beng part of a team. After tellng someone I didn't know the whereabouts of the guy I didn't work for for the upteenth time (they never took responsibility for themselves to leave a note, email or voicemail for the guy...nstead comng back 3-5 times per day, everyday for weeks), she said I wasn't a "team player." I asked where her part of the team was when I worked until 9 every night (she always left at 5 on the dot).

I'm not even gettng to the enraged customers who refused to complan to the applicable departments, my boss teasng me about my reaction to September 11th until the day I left (almost always n the presence of coworkers, board members, etc.), the 2 months of jackhammerng 15 feet from my desk, etc. I really can't see how I can be blamed for the situation beng so completely awful.

I appreciate your comments, it's clear I need to do what it takes to get back on track with my ntended career.

[Next entry: "The Antithesis of Midas"]
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