What I Do “Exactly”

2Everyone seems to be asking me what I do, “exactly”. My role, ‘Communications Associate’,  comes across as a vague title overtop 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 entry-level, 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 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 print. The speakers of a prominent lecture series were probably among a list of well-researched alumni I found online.

In turn, I get amazing experiences 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 we work as a resource for everyone in our department. I probably write the social media posts you see and make the signs for events you go to but the scale of my 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; 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, going beyond the scope of what our formal education at McGill is training us for. We all share an organizational and quick-thinking drive that works well for problem solving.

I laughed when someone suggested, “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 people’s lives easier. I’m responsible for making sure everything my bosses need -from the little things to the big things- are right there and ready to use.

Assistants reside in their own realm of office-work service industry (at least in my job they do). There’s so much to gain in being the helping hand of someone else and  I’ve found that greatly beneficial in a starting position.

I’m lucky enough to be behind the scenes with McGill alumni and interact in networks that I never knew were possible before. This job has made me proud of my university and incredibly humbled when reviewing the amazing accomplishments of fellow students and graduates.

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 your job in any sense then it is not worth your valuable time.

Sometimes you need grind and start at the bottom, as any assistant would say. You run for coffees and make impossible deadlines. But you should 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.

That’s the reality of defining good work. In the end, those things will always 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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