Thursday, February 24, 2005
My Work History
The recent devastation of the 1994 Florida Hurricane season has left many entrepreneurs scrambling for new employment, some branching out into new careers. When insurance companies were unable to quickly provide the means for rebuilding, many businesses were forced to close their doors; some temporarily, and some, forever.
Even writers and sales people have been forced to seek new territories and assignments, as Florida's economic landscape has dramatically changed, in the course of just a few months. I am one of those writers. I also worked with a pioneering entrepreneur who poured all of his being, and most of mine, into creating something which, in two years, became far more than our initial dream. As a result of the hurricanes, he and I both are without jobs currently, except for my contract writing.
I’ve had to do some serious contemplation, in light of the recent tragedies, in order to see where my career will take me. My first love is writing, and this is something that I can pursue in my after hours, though if I can be around other writers, publishers, or editors would bring me joy in my work. My second love is research. On or offline, I love to dig into the written words of others to pull together a cohesive report or document. I’ve always loved research and writing, and feel that they go hand in hand to teach me many things about myself, as I am writing. My third love is assisting people, primarily busy executives, as that has always been one of my duties in most of my previous jobs, though not always clearly defined in my job descriptions; its just been something that I fell into in each job I’ve ever had.
I quickly adapt into whatever environment I find myself in, as evidenced by my job history. I have worked for a newspaper (features writer), a LAN Computer Game Center (acting as surrogate mom/sister to nearly 300 young people), a doctor of periodontics (transcriptionist), traditional Chinese doctor (office manager/receptionist), public relations firm (office administrator), social services agency, and in retail. I have worked closely with professionals in various positions such as psychology, mental health professionals, program directors and managers, public relations and advertising executives, doctors, and CEOs. I have worked as a substitute school teacher and school bus driver. Many of my jobs overlapped, so that I was performing more than one job at the same time, and some of these do not appear on my resume, due to space constrictions. Regardless of the industry for which I worked, I have always learned my new duties quickly and have left each place not only personally enriched, but I have left the place better for its association with me, as well.
I became a substitute school teacher when my youngest son began kindergarten, because the empty nest was just too quiet. I also found that my older son required extra attention during this time, so my being at his school helped provide this. I initially started as a volunteer to the art teacher, which gave me more freedom to come and go as I pleased; but as I was at the school nearly every day, the principal suggested that I should be paid for my time. During my 6th year as a substitute, I decided to become a bus driver as well. It wasn’t so much a conscious, pre-meditated decision as it was the right thing to do. My sons had been complaining about how the students on their bus behaved, and about the bus driver who, in their minds, “Did nothing about the behavior.” While complaining to the driver’s supervisor, I was surprised to hear myself tell him that perhaps I should experience it from her side before I passed judgment, and then asked him for information about being trained and hired.
That last year of working with the school system and driving led to my work with a social services agency, when they needed a substitute for their children’s program. Never in my life, could I have imagined that I would be working with children and adults with mental or physical disabilities, but that was where I found myself for the next ten years. The man who became my supervisor later told me that he was only looking for someone who could be a reliable babysitter until he could hire someone full-time, so he had called the personnel director of the Department of Education. He just wanted the names of three of his most reliable substitute teachers. I was astounded when he told me that my name was on the top of that list. Three months later, he offered me a full time position.
It was there that I fell into my role as administrative assistant and ultimately assistant to an executive. Most of my non-job description roles just evolved naturally. Someone would ask a question for which I had an answer; someone posed a query that led me to research during my lunch hour; someone wondered aloud where they could turn for computer help, or to have something typed, or how they could possibly get the funding for a government grant when they were not equipped to write the proposal. My hand reflexively rose into the air and my mouth involuntarily said, “I can do that!” Sometimes, though, I had no idea if I could or not. Often, these were tasks that I’d never heard of, but I have always embraced challenges and have always enjoyed finding out just where my own personal limits are. I’m still looking for the boundaries. I’m still searching for those limits to what I can do, because I have found that there isn’t much I can’t do!