I don’t know if I’ve really spoken about it much (or at all) on FLM, but my 9 to 5 job title is Personal Assistant. I’ve been the assistant to three different people over the last five years in two not-so-different-but-of-equal-interest-to-me-industries, Sport and Film & TV. I kind of stumbled on to this career path by accident, being given the chance to start in the role with no prior experience other than the customer service retail roots that I’d established after dropping out of University when I decided I didn’t want to be a teacher… or anything for that matter.
Leaving school at 17, I went straight in to full-time study because that is what I was told I had to do, like I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t hate school and I guess that was the pre-cursor for my decision to study Drama & English in the hopes of becoming a high school teacher. I really wanted to be a hairdresser, but somewhere along the way an authority figure advised me I was not suited to that career path.
So anyway, that’s how I ended up enrolled at University. I had an amazing first two years, meeting friends that would remain friends for life and studying my two passions theatre and the English language. However, by the time third year came around and it was time for me to complete my first placement as a student teacher, I had a breakdown. I was a bundle of anxiety and ended up making the decision to leave my study and gather my thoughts, always telling people there was a chance I would complete my degree in future years but knowing deep down that I wouldn’t.
Slammed with two and a half years of study-related debt, I started working in retail full-time and enjoyed this so much. To anyone who works in retail, you are wonderful! Perhaps a bit too friendly and in my face when I just want to browse but I know you’re just carrying out the ‘open-ended questions’ and ‘up-sell’ orders being preached by your bosses. I had another bout of anxiety as I was settling in to a full-time bridal sales consultancy role and had to leave that at the age of 20. This time however, I was living out of home and had rent and bills to pay and groceries to buy so the search for a more stress-free source of income ensued.
That’s when I found the perfect reception role in the most friendly and exciting working environments. To anyone who works in reception, you are the face of the company and you are wonderful! That is also when I was given an opportunity by my boss to grow in the role and become his PA. I am forever grateful to him for believing in my abilities and supporting me throughout my learning curve. Due to this opportunity, I found a career that I love and if you are stuck and unsure about what you might like to do for work, then I highly recommend to anyone to try their luck in office administration roles. If you feel that way inclined, being someone’s assistant and right-hand person is a really rewarding role and provides you with the opportunity to work in countless industries for and with some pretty cool industry experts.
If you suffer any anxieties or other mental illnesses that sometimes make work life hard, then these are the type of working relationships where your boss grows to know you just as well as you do them and it is easier to explain your situation. Well, I have found that to be the case for me. I’m not saying there aren’t days when a glass of wine and a vent is the only thing that makes me feel better after a hectic and stressful day, but overall, I am happy at work.
There are titles I would give myself – daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend etc. and I personally view these as the most important titles I carry. However, we all need an income to survive and so it was important for me to find a title I could be happy with Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. It took me over four years after leaving school to get there, but the important thing is that I did.
If my kids, who will undoubtedly be super intelligent and all-round amazing humans, come to me at 17 and say ‘Mum, I’m still not sure what I want to be when I leave school’, then I will tell them not to worry, to take their time deciding and share this story with them. Although I would also love if they ended up like their Aunty J or Uncle T, my siblings that I am incredibly proud of for the career paths (marketing and sales exec and landscaper) they paved themselves early in life, always determined and clear about where they wanted to end up.
More than anything, I would hope that they grow up to be happy.