It’s International Women’s Day today! And so in honour of this, I want to share with you the next story in my life series. This is my work & career story and how I have got to where I am today.
I’ve worked ever since I was 15 years old. During high school and college I worked in retail. At one point I had 2 part time jobs on top of my college work. When I moved to Manchester I worked across a number of call centres and a bar. Then in 2011, I landed the role that changed my career path.
My first admin job!
With no experience in admin, I was thrilled to be given a new opportunity. I worked as an administrator in a small office where I stayed for about a year and a half. Boy did I work my arse off in this job. I did long hours, took a hell of a lot of work on, and completely changed their administrative systems to a slick easy to use operation. This had been noticed by Head Office, and I was in talks with the general admin manager to become a ‘lead’ administrator for the company. That was until my boss came back from maternity leave.
She said what now….???
At my annual appraisal, she told me that I was not to become the lead administrator as the team felt I had gotten too big for my boots. I was gutted. Heartbroken, I went outside and phoned my OH in tears. I had worked so hard for this. That night, we discussed it and agreed that I should hand in my notice. This might seem like a rash decision. However I had been unhappy since my boss had come back and was starting to dread going into the office every morning.
I told the team the next day and they were all shocked. I was honest with them and told them what my boss had told me and explained I couldn’t work in an environment like that. What I didn’t expect to happen was to be told that no one thought that of me. If anyone did think that, it was my boss. I even had a phone call from the admin manager begging to me to stay but for me, the damage had been done. Having been bullied before, I was not about to take this again. So I worked my notice and looked for another role.
The next role
I went for a few interviews, and landed a role at a prominent online retailer in the travel industry. Starting out as an admin for the marketing team, I ended up doing a lot of PA work for the Director of the department and found a new love. Apparently I was good at organising other people! I fought for about a year to be made a ‘proper’ PA but because of the hierarchy this was not possible. I stayed here just over a year and learned a hell of a lot from both my own role, and talking to the other PA’s in the company. It became clear that being a PA was where I was supposed to be.
How does my job title determine what I can do?!
When it came time to look for a new role, a number of agencies told me that whilst I was doing a PA’s role in my current job, because my job title was not ‘PA’ I would never get a job. I felt so deflated. Why was I working my arse off doing what I was doing to get the relevant experience at a low wage to be told my current job title would hold me back? Surely applicants should be judged by their skills and experience, not by a job title?
I also came across a barricade with a number of roles stating degree essential. At this point I was studying for my degree part time, but I was at least 4 years of completion. I could not understand why this was an issue – after all, a lot of PA work is about experience, people skills and coping under pressure. Yes a degree teaches you certain elements of this, but most of this will come with experience in different environments.
Finding my place
In August 2012, an organisation took a chance on me. I interviewed at a housing association who then offered me a role providing administrative support to their senior management team. Needless to say I quickly accepted, and started my new job in September 2012. I am still there today. It has been a steep learning curve at times. But I have proven myself and now have that coveted ‘PA’ job title. My directors are now Executives, and I facilitate the Board of Management. I’ve learned so much in my time at this organisation and met some amazing people. When the time comes for me to take that next step in my career journey, I will be able to say it’s because of them that I am confident enough to go for it.
I want to end this by saying don’t give up. If you want something bad enough, you will get it. You might have to work your arse off, do things outside of your comfort zone and have to fight like hell to get it. But with enough determination, passion and tenacity it is possible.
At 18, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I certainly didn’t think I would go into admin. Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons, and showing you paths that you never knew existed. And I have to be thankful for that horrible experience in 2011 as it showed me that I am capable and worthy of more. Who knows where I will be in another 10 years. I may be the best PA ever! Or I may decide to do a complete switcheroo and do something with my degree. I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out!
Bye for now