Monday, December 03, 2007

Please excuse me while I gloat.

My boss was in town for the last week. I worked my first four days here without seeing him because he was in Paris for a lecture. I spent those four days with nothing to do. I sat at my desk, stared out the window, played with my Macbook, and thought for eight hours a day, "I can't believe I'm getting paid so much money to do absolutely nothing here. I can't even find anything to put a label on anymore."

Then, on Tuesday, I went to Evanston because my boss was back in town and he works from that office twice a week so he can meet with students who are based on that campus. And all hell broke loose. He decided to go to Singapore this week, which required a lot of planning, especially since next week he'll be in Vienna and Holland for two other meetings. My supervisor told me that it was baptism by fire: I was training myself to do this job by starting with an incredibly complicated assignment. For the next three days, I was insanely concerned that I couldn't do it. Suddenly, for the first time ever, really, I was honestly stressed out about a deadline. It was like I was in finals week, only that instead of doing assignments so that I could pass all of my classes, I was doing them all for someone else, which made me more nervous.

I called and made hotel reservations. I called a travel agents. I made a reservation for a limousine. I emailed people in Austria and Germany. I discovered that the two meetings in Europe were incorrectly on my boss's calendar and were actually occurring on the same day. I called another hotel. I made more reservations. I found out how long it took to drive from Dusseldorf to Vaals.

Amazingly, by Friday afternoon, I was completely fine. I realized that even though I was spending a good chunk of my days (specifically the hours before I managed to find time to heat up leftovers for lunch) running around a maze of a science building tracking down grad students and professors and creating itineraries for a ten-day global trip, I was finishing each day with the satisfaction that I, indeed, could do this job. And on Friday, when I had to fix the middle part of the trip that had unexpectedly blown up in our faces, my supervisor, who wasn't even at work that day, seemed really thrilled that I was in good spirits at noon. My boss, who drove me from the Evanston campus to Chicago in the nicest Mercedes I've ever seen, seemed to think he made the right decision in hiring me.

I've noticed already that as soon as my boss leaves the country, things quiet down immensely. For the first time in a week I can get back to my routine - checking Gakwer (btw, sadness), Jezebel, Facebook, and having the occasional GChat - for a few minutes while I juggle the administrative tasks I need to perform while he's away.

I initially thought that being someone's assistant was going to be pointless and boring, that it'd be menial tasks like taking messages and getting coffee. But my job hasn't been any of that, and I'm kind of enjoying it so far. I feel like I've added so much to my resume in the last week and a half than I did the entire two years since I've graduated college, and I'm so goddamn happy that I can finally prove to someone, maybe even just myself, that I can actually do this.

It took me a year to get here. I had about eleven interviews, signed up with six staffing agencies, and sent out countless resumes. I spent most of my Sundays depressed, a combination of hangovers and dread of going back to work or starting a new job search. I called my parents and cried. I kicked myself because I didn't know what I was doing wrong. I compared myself to people I knew who landed into positions with a little bit of luck. I considered moving away from Chicago, either starting fresh somewhere else or returning to school. I spent a year coming up with rational and irrational plans and, in the end, didn't really have to follow through with any of them. I suppose every successful job search involves a little bit of luck, which with luck like mine, I hope you won't think me too vain for being really fucking pleased with myself right now. I finally managed to get a job with an interview: I wasn't placed here, and didn't use any connections to get it. Sure, there are some cons; I don't get to wear jeans on Fridays, it can get pretty stressful, and, as of right now, I don't have insurance until HR gets it act together. But it pays a lot more than I ever expected, and I can get a degree from a damn fine university for a very sweet price, and I actually feel happier about what I'm doing with my life.

So, in conclusion, I think I'm going to stay here a while.


Chris Schroeder said...

I, too, am planning on struggling with the job search in a month when I move to Chicago from the West Coast. I have been looking around on for some decent blogs and your recent post sparked my eye.
It is encouraging to hear a story about hard work paying off.. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're finally doing something you enjoy! :)


megan is trying not to comment as her boyfriend again and thus confuse everyone said...

Yay for Tyler!

Incidentally, you will not be GChatting with me anytime soon because my innocent and impartial face has landed itself a temporary position as a juror in a federal court. Sigh.