Am I in a dead end job or an amazing networking position?
April 7, 2016 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Every day is a rollercoaster -- need to figure out where i stand -- Waterfall of Text below the fold

Last week I asked about doing an M.A. part time. . . setting that question aside for the moment, I am *so* confused about my current job that I need some objective eyes help me figure out whether I'm in a good position or not.

I work at an entertainment company that is undergoing a lot of expansion. I interviewed for a Production Coordinator position there about 10 months ago and didn't get the job (though they said I was one of the strongest candidates). Then, about 7 months ago, another opening for Executive Assistant was posted, I applied and got the job and started working there 5 months ago. Really, I would rather have the first job, but after several months of job searching I just needed the money

I was given very little in terms of a job description. . . but my daily responsibilities have been so VASTLY DIFFERENT every day, that i have no idea where this is going, if anywhere.

I started out helping with daily admin things, paperwork, random research, creating spreadsheets, blah blah blah. But in the 5 months I've worked there, an absurdly varied array of things have been demanded of me. Such as :

Not so encouraging parts:

-- One of the producers is so *special* that even though she already has a personal assistant, she has me printing out her children's homework, researching holiday travel requirements, etc. But damn if she doesn't have the sweetest smile, the whitest teeth and funniest jokes, that everyone is wrapped around her finger.

-- I was hired to work for the initial company. But increasingly am being asked to do admin work for the other two companies that they are affiliated with, in addition to the one I signed up to work for

Good parts:

-- I get to work on some web design and audiovisual stuff and content coordination (which is what I sort of studied for)

-- Since their actual production coordinator is so swamped, I end up helping her anyways.

---- I got a small raise about a month ago. (and was coincidentally asked a few days later to "answer the phones more" because they don't want to hire a receptionist because it would mess up the feng shui of the office, so 6 people answer the phones (no one has their own line) , and the girl that does it most keeps forgetting to take messages properly. . I laughed to myself that I had been promoted to receptionist)

-- I have 2 supervisors, who think of me as their own assistant. But increasingly I've been helping everyone in the office, simply because I've been asked. I learned at my recent evaluation, that my supervisor envisions me becoming the Insurance Form Filler Outer. Which, while I would like her workload to be lessened, seems like a death sentence to me.

--I don't really mind having a variety of different tasks thrown at me, In fact I think i learn a lot, gain confidence, and make it known that I am reliable, productive and valued. However, I would eventually like to GET OUT of the admin role, whether by leaving this company and going in a completely different direction or eventually getting promoted ( ha ha ha ha , but seriously this does happen, i swear)

-- I am scared because it seems like rather than rewarding hard work, the company rewards Big Egos, Pretty Girls, Flatterers, and People Who Make Ridiculous Demands. I certainly have the capacity of being the sexy young thing who would love to get you a coffee, and there's also a part of me that would love to be the Person Who Everyone Revolves Around, but both of those options feel like so FAKE, insincere, dishonest and inhumane. Is there any way for me to succeed in this company without becoming a monster?

Basically, my question is:

-- Everyone in the company seems to have a different idea of what my job is. I'm guessing when they hired me, they basically REALLY NEEDED STAFF

-- I seem to be able help out in a variety of capacities, it seems like it could be going in any direction ( or nowhere at all)

-- Is there a way that I can insure that I move in the direction I want to move in and not be pigeon-holed into a role I never intended to take on? (presuming that I'm moving in any direction at all. . . . which I am In My Mind)

* yes, I am aware that I'm not the centre of the universe, that no one else in the company is thinking about the Career Direction of their Executive Assistant, so if no one else is doing it, I gotta do it myself
posted by winterportage to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Been there, done that.

Let me take a guess, the most junior person gives you orders so they can avoid doing their job, along with everyone else and their dog?

Get out while you still can.
posted by Yowser at 6:31 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

You need to quit this job. It is clear from your posts that this job is not a good fit for you and your skills, attributes and needs.

You list several reasons why being in this job is good for you and your future. The reality, however, is that if you are not able to do your best work -- interpersonal, clerical, technical, specialized, whatever -- because of the mound of crap associated with the environment, this job is not only not worthwhile but is probably making you regress and lose some capability and/or confidence. I am waiting out a rough work situation myself, and I feel less capable now than I did before I started grad school in 2007.

Leave. Make plans. Get out. Do anything else. Go.
posted by St. Hubbins at 6:46 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Entertainment/show biz does reward Big Egos, Pretty Girls ( and Boys), Flatterers and People Who etc.. That's pretty much standard operating procedure in every production company, agency, studio and so on. If you want to stay in film/tv production, you seize the opportunity to learn as much as you can about every aspect of the business--insurance included. If you want to produce, you're in a pretty good spot. If you want to direct, write or work on set, you're not. You are as pigeon-holed as you let yourself be.

Sure, start looking around. Network, go to Women in Film or the local equivalent, check out the various job sites. You have my permission. Personally, I found that I had to move on to move up--I have had 2 staff jobs in my entire career, and vastly prefer being a free-lancer.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:36 PM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

The problem with jobs like this is no one is actually keeping track of what you do, or how helpful you are. Since you don't have a defined role or tasks that can be tracked as like, a metric of "you got 20 widgets done today!" or "you helped out on 5 projects this week" or whatever, then... stuff just kinda gets done. And it probably seems like, to a lot of people, you're doing a lot less than you are.

There's sort of a two pronged thing here actually. Part of it is that people don't appreciate what you're doing, and the other part is that if you actually do find someone who wants you to do Defined Job other people will end up continuing to shovel shit on you, or in the best case that they defend you and go "no that's not their job anymore" then someone else higher up like the producer will go "but we NEED someone to dump shit on/do that stupid ill defined task".

There's a crab-bucket element to jobs like this. Once you're the catch-all shit mopper, people want a catch all shit mopper. When you are one, it's almost impossible to get out of.
posted by emptythought at 12:10 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think this might be a great opportunity to define your own job!

It doesn't sound like you're overworked, just that they don't really have enough work for an EA to be busy 24/7, so you get these other weird projects.

If you enjoy the actual office, if the folks are pretty nice and the work isn't stressful and taxing...ride it out for awhile.

What I'd do is figure out who the best folks in the org are, and plot to see how I can work with them more, and ultimately, exclusively. The other thing is to zero in on the rewarding projects. Structure your day such that you get the grunt work done early, and can pick and choose what you'd like to be doing the rest of it.

If you're asked to do XYZ and that's really boring and stupid, you can simply say, "I don't have the bandwidth, I'm working on ABC." You might not be able to do it right off, but eventually.

If things don't change in a few months to where you're happy and feeling that you're shaping your own job there, move on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:46 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

-- Since their actual production coordinator is so swamped, I end up helping her anyways.

I wonder if you could really concentrate on this - talk to her about being her assistant if the office gets a new EA.
posted by CathyG at 7:11 AM on April 8, 2016

This is pretty standard for your kind of position. I work at a post production house and my job has been pretty similar. I'm actually being trained now to become a producer, so - work hard, say yes to everything and act happy about it.
posted by shesbenevolent at 9:05 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

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