4.22.2009

HAPPY ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS DAY

Today is Administrative Professionals Day. I hate this holiday.

Secretary's Day, I mean, Administrative Professionals Day, was a big deal when I was working. We'd sometimes get flowers, maybe a card, and always a free lunch. I hated being recognized as a secretary. It was bad enough that this was what I was doing with my life, I didn't need to be reminded that I was not living up to my potential.

The longer I worked as a secretary, the harder it was to escape the "profession." My skills kept improving. I typed faster, answered the phones better, and took directions easier. Whenever I applied for a new job, I was tempted to fail the typing test on purpose and fudge my career history just so that I wouldn't be pegged as a secretary.

The job that put me over the edge was performing mundane secretarial tasks and personal errands for the senior partner of a law firm. Each morning I would find a small cassette tape on my desk filled with dictation. Sometimes the dictation would be editing contracts, but mostly it contained personal emails intermingled with requests to order paperback books off the internet, find someone to tune his piano, or pick out a gift for his daughter. Although I was grateful for the job, the banal assignments left me feeling hopeless and belittled. I couldn't believe that I had gotten a bachelors degree to do this.

One perk to being this man's secretary/personal assistant was that I had a lot of down time with no supervision. So, I decided to enroll in an online 9 month paralegal certificate program. At least now I was exercising my brain while I was at work. I finished the program and got a paralegal job that was more fulfilling. I finally enjoyed going to work, it was nice.

Despite my wonderful new job, Secretary's Day would roll around each year to remind me that as a paralegal, I was really just a glorified secretary... an underling, the lower tier, the hired help, the less educated, the "girl"... I couldn't ditch the feeling that as long as I was even a glorified secretary, I was not living up to my potential. I wanted to be giving flowers on Secretary's Day to my secretary, not the one receiving them. (I am fully aware of how ungrateful I sound.)

Me at Work in 2004. No, we didn't have a uniform, we just liked black.
Elaine went on to get her masters degree and Katie is now in law school.

Sometimes when the kids are screaming and I've had no sleep, I really miss being a paralegal. I miss talking to clients, organizing boxes of discovery, and drafting documents that will never be accredited to me. I miss interacting with adults and having meaningful conversations.

However, while working I rarely felt like I was living up to my potential. This all changed when I became a stay-at-home mom. I finally feel like I am doing what I was born to do. I am no longer hopeless about the future. One day I will go back to school or work and figure out what I want to do for a career, but I can say with 100% confidence that being a mother is what I am supposed to be doing with my life.

To all the admin pro's, I hope you are enjoying the free lunch and attention today. You deserve it. For me, though, I do not miss Administrative Professionals/Secretary's Day one bit.

17 comments:

  1. I know which attorney you're talking about :). You mean your life's goal wasn't to be a secretary? I got hired on too late with the firm and our Administrative Professionals Day was not as fancy as they were in the years prior...but I'll take free Cafe Rio whenever someone offers it. You know what always made me mad? The fact that the stupid attorneys got free lunch that day too. What's that all about?

    Staying home is the best...I love all the bon bons.

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  2. Of all your blog posts that I read while emphatically nodding my head in agreement, this took the cake! Good memories with you girls, but definitely grateful not to be an "administrative professional" today! Or listening to a mini-cassette tape dictating instructions to the "senior partner"'s family on specific rules for the family reunion! :) It's like the last attorney I worked for before I went to law school said-- If legal secretaries are smart they don't stick around because they're too smart to be legal secretaries!

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  3. I am so with you on this! I have definitely been down the secretary road and also had more "prestigious" jobs, but all of them pale in comparison to the fulfillment I feel in being a mom! It's 10 times harder than any outside job, but wouldn't trade it for the world! Oh and I think Secretaries Day is stupid too, why don't they have a restaurant workers day or a mechanics appreciation day?

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  4. Well I'm still an administrative professional today but I did appreciate this post. I was nodding in agreement all the way through. Why did I get a bachelor's degree if this was all I'd be doing? I hope to be celebrating next year's A.P day at home...we shall see. I do have to say one thing, I can't complain about the gift cards. As long as I have to be doing this job, I might as well be getting some perks!

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  5. So, how fast can you type these days?

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  6. Nice post, Cristin....from a stay home mom who has been home for more than 30 years! Can't think of anything more rewarding and challenging than what we are doing!

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  7. What a bunch of beautiful girls in black! I, too, spent some time schlepping it as a glorified office assistant/secretary. I guess I learned something...that I never want to do that again. But I did meet some neat people and helped pay the bills for awhile that way before grad school & kiddies came along.

    I guess each step of our lives is for a reason, to teach us what we couldn't have otherwise learned. ;)

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  8. Good for you Cristin. Even though this is one of the hardest jobs around, it definitely requires skills, which you will also find yourself improving on day after day :)

    Happy Stay-At-Home Mom's Day!

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  9. You were like Elaine on Seinfeld when she was an assistant to some guy and had to do his laundry, buy a special pen and do other lame chores. I guess as moms we are kindov the family administrative professional....without the free lunch.

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  10. My sister could have written your post. She had the same struggle. She's a brilliant writer and always had to rework the lawyers stuff to make it sound better. Yet, she was 'just the secretary' which was much less than what she knew she could be.

    Fast forward through a decade of stay-at-home Mom years laced with community projects and she just went back to work in a job that's actually powerful enough to have her old 'bosses' courting favor from her. It's been a funny irony.

    And yes, even when I was low man on the totem pole at work there are days when I really miss it too because my current role as a full time Mom is WAY less glamorous than my old job.

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  11. Oh, Cristin, I'm dying laughing! It's all so true! And it all seems so long ago!

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  12. Funny! As much as I LOVE not working anymore, I do kind of miss the good ole' FS days :) (Very rarely, however)

    And, I was just the pee-on receptionist under you who got to help you with all the filing and phone calls and e-mails, filling the copy machines with paper, the fridge with drinks, and answering the phones for everyone in the office. And then..I was promoted to secretary. Good times. Haha.

    Thanks for sharing, Cristin!

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  13. Wow Cristin you are on the very top of the list of "Tamber's e-BFFs" from "Seriusly so Blessed" I really can't stand that blog... so annoying.

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  14. I think it's amusing/insulting to see all of the glorified names they give secretaries these days. As I've been searching for jobs I find things like Administrative Specialist, Executive Coordinator, Program Assistant, only to read the job description and find out that all of these positions are secretarial.

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  15. Maybe you have been out of the job market too long. Your incorrect use of 's in your posts are driving me crazy! Sorry, the teacher in me just had to come out. You can get back at me on Teacher's Day (which doesn't exist as far as I know) or on Mother's Day (which does).

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  16. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a secretary when I grew up. I thought that would be the coolest job. I'm not sure where I got that idea. Luckily I didn't grow up to be a secretary.

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