Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Still Fighting It

The summer job is a natural part of the cycle of the university student's life. Right about the middle of second semester, when the light at the end of the winter tunnel appears, the whisper goes around campus -- Summer Plans. It's enough to make you go insane, if you don't have a job. It's especially hard this year, with the economic slowdown/downturn/Great Recession (take your buzzword of choice) and jobs are fewer and farther between than normal.

I was lucky enough to actually land myself a job for the summer. I interviewed at Reading Week and it was confirmed by late March. Perfect! No worries. I was set for my summer of office bitch duties with some occasional writing opportunities when they needed someone to pick up the slack (or so I thought).

Nepotism played a role in getting this job, but I would say it really was a small one. My mom work there, so I've worked there before, in little bits here and there, so I know the people pretty well. There had been quite a staff changeover in the Communications and Public Education department, so I didn't know the woman who is now my boss very well. I only met her when I was my mom's date to the Christmas Party last year. Apparently I made a good impression, because she did call me, as I suggested, about some summer work. I interviewed, it was good, I was qualified, she hired me. Hurray! Full-time work in the summer -- check. With weekends off -- double check.

So after returning home from school, I picked out an "it-says-me-but-in-a-dressed-to-impress-corporate-style-way" outfit and walked the five minutes down Bank Street to work. I reported to my boss's office for orientation. Somewhere in the two hour discussion, I realized that this was not an office bitch job at all. Maybe it was around "I believe in giving students real summer jobs where they can learn, so don't worry, you won't be filing." Wait, what? Filing, I can do. I did that all year. Fax and photocopy too. What exactly do you need me for?

She handed me my contract, with my title on it: "Writer - Communications and Public Education".

You better believe I did a happy dance in my mom's cubicle at lunch.

They promptly set me to work writing things. Brochures. Backgrounders. Web content. I have my own work email, desk, computer; I go to meetings and soon, maybe, I'll talk during one of them. I'm in week two, so the stabbing panic of what do I DO?? has started to subside. I go to work, I sit down at my desk, and I write. I am a writer. I write things. It's my title: writer.

Am I the only one who realizes I'm completely unqualified for this?

A good friend of mine, when I said that to him, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "Listen to me. What I'm about to tell you is very important. None of us know what we're doing. Welcome to being a grown-up. None of us are qualified. Do you think I have any idea what I'm doing?"

Hmm. A sobering thought. I had this idea that I was temporarily stepping into the World of Grown-Ups where I would visit for a while, then leave again until it was my time to go live there. You're telling me I -gasp- belong here? Just as much as everyone else?

Oh my God. No wonder they always go out for beer after work on TV. I need a drink.


ange ella said...

That's super awesome.

And true.

Jo Stockton said...

I can confirm this as well. I am over a decade older than you, with two completed degrees and, for the first year of my current job, I constantly felt like someone was going to realize I was an imposter. I got over it eventually, but I think this is a constant feeling for a lot of people.

Congratulations on your job, though! I would have died for a job like that when I was in between university years. Beats planting trees or being an underpaid summer camp counsellor!

Myra said...

I think, since you are a fantastic and very natural writer, that you are quite 'qualified' after all. We miss you though...

DaniGirl said...

Hi Evey!

I just wanted to let you know that this was one of my favourite readings from last night at BOLO. Even 20 years into my career, I find myself wondering "Am I the only one who realizes I'm completely unqualified for this?" (Hmm, that happens to me in my parenting life too, now that I think of it!)

Just wanted to say hi and thanks for sharing this.