What I Do “Exactly”

2Everyone seems to ask what I do, “exactly”. Alumni Relations Assistant seems like a vague title over top of a mountain of miscellaneous tasks.

I respond in saying I’m a gopher. You know like, “Go for this..” and “Go for that…”.I rather like the phrase and think it fits, as my job has a certain malleability that anyone beginning in an assistant 9-5 position can relate to.

I’ve tried asking my other coworkers that Work Study with me and they seem to run into the same problem.

“We kind of just do a little bit of everything.” I’ll explain what this means.

In many ways, my work is evident in a lot of what happens around Alumni Relations (in terms of events, meetings etc.) but in “little” ways. William Shatner is probably wearing the sweater I ran to grab at the Athletics shop. The guests at an evening McGill cocktail event receive the nametags I stuff. The speakers for a lecture series were probably among a list of well-researched alumni I found online.

In turn, I get amazing experiences in meeting alums and am exposed to the vast network that McGill has to offer.

We are a team of Work Study assistants with one direct person managing us. But really, we’re kind of a resource for everyone. We probably write the social media posts you see and make the signs for events you go to but the scale of our tasks, from in-depth, analytical research to wrapping gifts, is huge! It’s very much a team atmosphere and it allows you to try a bit of everything from everyone.

All the Work Studies have different fields of interest, as our job isn’t management, science or arts exclusive. In that, there are many fascinating people to chat with between piles of reports. The job is specialized in a different way, as we all have an organization and quick-thinking drive that works well for problem solving.

I laughed when someone replied, “Oh! You’re a fixer! You fix things for people”. I told him really nicely that I’m not a handyman and wear heels at a desk. He’s like, “No! I mean that you fix problems for people” And to that I said, “I guess?”

Because it’s more about making other peoples live easier. Making sure everything they need, from the little things to the big things, are right there and ready.

Assistants reside in their own realm of office-work service industry. At least in my job. There’s so much to gain in being the helping hand of someone else, and as a starting position in career it’s greatly beneficial. It’s a learning experience in itself.

I’m lucky enough to be behind the scenes with McGill alumni and networks that I never knew were possible before. I became much more proud of my school and INCREDIBLY humble, when I saw the amazing things students and graduates were capable of.

When actor William Shatner can call up fellow alum, Bombardier CEO, and ask to use one of his planes, it makes your alumni network look pretty nice.

Regardless of the official tasks and capacity of what I do, I always advocate to love whatever it is you’re doing. You may not always like it, but if you can’t find a deep appreciation for it in any sense than it’s not worth your valuable time.

Sometimes you need to work the grind and start at the bottom, as any assistant would say, and run for coffees and make impossible deadlines. But do it because it’s on the road to success, because it’s in the field you’re passionate about or because it makes you happy.

Those things matter so much more than what you do “exactly“.

Deanna is a student, writer and editor originally from Toronto but currently exploring Montreal. She works in administration, fashion, publishing and journalism with a deep desire to ask questions and record stories. She’s passionate about used books, good tea and sharing her adventures throughout the city. 
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