Avoiding the Question
‘What do you do for a living?’
I’m an assistant, I’m an administrator, I work on reception. No matter which of these answers I give it’s inevitably followed by;
‘What do you hope to go on to do?’
‘Are you going to try to go in to management?’
I have always felt as if my career choice is not recognised in its own right. That it’s seen as a stepping stone. Time and time again I encountered the perception that being an assistant or receptionist is easy, that no skill is involved because after all, all you do is sit around all day drinking coffee and filing your nails! I spent over a decade being on the receiving end of these views and, not knowing which course of action to take to change them, I had become frustrated.
The Wrong Path
Then when my daughter was born I suddenly gained a burning desire to face my career head on. It was a maternal need to provide well for my family and to give this little girl a role model, she became my catalyst. I was going to stop avoiding the dreaded question and start changing my situation.
Towards the end of my maternity leave I took up jewellery making as a hobby. I really enjoyed finding a creative outlet and jumped on this as a business idea. Jewellery maker and business owner sounds more glamorous than administrator right?! I went in head first and although I had plenty of enthusiasm I soon had to admit that this wasn’t going to be my answer, I enjoyed it but this wasn’t where my skills or heart lay.
The Lightbulb Moment
My ‘lightbulb’ moment was made up of three separate realisations.
The first was that it’s completely ok to delete and undo. Admitting I had got my first shot at trying something new so wrong had hurt my pride but there was no need to see it as a failure. I had to take what I could from this experience and use it. For example I had setup and maintained a WordPress website and shop. This knowledge could be added to my skillset.
The second was that I needed to go back to basics. What was it that I was actually good at? The answer was that I am a good assistant. I am a good administrator. I had only become jaded with this as a career path because of other people’s perceptions and because of the limited opportunities at my current company. I didn’t need to change my career, just my environment.
Finally I realised that I needed to work on my own confidence. If I changed my mind set, others would follow. I’m not a jack of all trades; I’ve had to think on my feet over the years and build a skillset to provide my employers with solutions. This career isn’t a stepping stone; but I could use it to move myself into a more challenging, proactive role.
I would take what I was good at and provide my services to small business owners in a freelance capacity.
So now go ahead and ask me what I do for a living and I’ll tell you proudly. And then I’ll tell you how I could help you.
A Guest Blog from Vicky Smith
Vicky lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and 22 month old daughter. When she isn’t busy throwing herself into building her new freelance business she can be found with her family in the park, reading or watching rugby! More information about the services Vicky provides can be found on her Facebook page.