“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
— J.M. Barrie
I’m putting together some pieces about what I’ve learned from some of the less typical aspects of my current job as it winds to a close, but it struck me that as I’m gearing up for a new job (hopefully a career) in the near future, I’m already getting some insights into the brave new world of post-university employment.
Working on the Mysterious Project in particular (still secret, details coming soon) has been eyeopening. It’s been a crash course from an insider on the nitty gritty details of an industry I hope to work in some day in some capacity. It’s absolutely invaluable, frankly a lot of fun, and if I could do it full time I would in a heart beat…but it’s also giving me a view into how a lot of the world works and the findings have been surprising.
My day job can be roughly described as being the “exclusive personal assistant” to forty separate people, in addition to day to day operations for the department. I’m constantly juggling priorities, assignments, and shifting duties. The job I have now is not the job I was hired four years ago to do in a lot of ways. But in spite of almost constant upheaval (between big cases and department crises), every email is answered and every phone message is returned. It’s not even an option for me not to.
Working on the MP means constant phone calls and emails – and I have been shocked at how few are responded to. My prior internships and jobs (NATO, and International Student Services, even research assistant!) all required quick turn around time and explicit acknowledgement of messages. I didn’t realize that some professions didn’t have that same expectation! It’s aggravating in the extreme to hear, “Oh yeah, I got that a month ago but I haven’t got around to it yet,” when I’m holding myself to a policy of same day (preferably same hour) response time.
The day job also requires pretty concrete time frames. “C., I need this done by X day to be ready for Y court date.” On it. “C., this project takes priority over everything else until it’s done.” Understood. “This isn’t a big deal, but could you tell me when you could have it done by?” “I will have this to you by end of day/week.”
I was assured an answer to a question last Friday for the MP. Nearly one week later, nada. They’ve now assured me I’ll probably hear something this week, but I’m not confident at all they’ll do so without more follow up from me.
Work on the other side of the police department counter is going to be alright. More than alright, I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s been odd to see a completely different work paradigm from the one I’ve used and functioned in since I was 16. It’s never convenient to realize that there are other operating systems out in the universe, it means you have to play catch up. Luckily, I’m more than ready for the challenge!