I just had some funny thoughts. Bear with me for a few minutes…
If you’d asked me, when I was five, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would’ve said, “Secretary, just like my aunts.” At age six, I wanted to be an archeologist. At age seven, it’d evolved to paleontologist. At age eight, it was astronaut, but then the Challenger crashed and I didn’t want to die, so that was the end of the astronaut dream. At age ten, it was geologist, but then I read about a geologist who died in the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, so that ended that one as well.
After that, it took me a few years to come up with something. At about age 15, I would’ve said, “I want to save the world.” I was just getting into environmentalism at that time, so that seemed like a good thing to work on. That evolved to “I’ll just work on saving my part of the world” to “I’ll just my part of the world better.” That’s still pretty much where I’m at, but I’ve learned it’s useful to get a little bit more specific about how. I couldn’t been a scientist, or an economist, all with an eco-bent. But the policy stuff was more fun than calculas, so that’s the course I studied.
I haven’t exactly done what I thought I would.
My first job saving the world was with CalPIRG, knocking on doors asking for money to save trees. As challenging as it was to work there, it crystallized a lot of things for me. I’d long believed that the market/money could have a powerful affect on the environment. Basically, buy green, recycled, organic, and socially responsible because you believe in it, even though it’s a little more expensive, and eventually, slowly, the scales will tip more in the direction of an economy and environment that is healthy for humans and other living creatures. What CalPIRG showed me is that philanthropy is another way to put your money where your values are. Making donations to public benefit organizations is a powerful action that one can take to affect positive change in the world. The real “aha” was that I was good at it – good at asking people for money for causes they just remembered they believed in.
But I just wasn’t cut out to work nights, so I quit CalPIRG and found two part-time jobs — one as Office Coordinator at Committee for Green Foothills and one as Information Specialist at Acterra. I liked these jobs because they were easy, but with enough moving parts to keep me busy and I learned a lot about organization management. After two years, I was promoted to Associate Director of Development at Committee for Green Foothills. This allowed me to marry my fundraising experience with project and volunteer management. It was fun, I learned a ton, and it wore me out. So, I took some time off to do some traveling, which is when I started this blog.
During my time off, I thought about what things I was particularily good at, that I also liked a lot, that were easy and that a lot of other people didn’t like to do. Those things are managing timelines, details, events and volunteers. I perused Craiglist over the course of 2005 to get an idea of what types of jobs appealed to me that I could do, that wasn’t something I’d already done. Being an Executive Assistant was top on the list. I was lucky enough to find Save-the-Redwoods League at the end of my travels (and money!). They were hiring for an executive assistant, with a little extra event planning and volunteer management than the average corporate job description. I’ve been there almost a year now, and it’s still wonderful.
This isn’t what I had in mind when I went to college, but it’s working for me. I have to focus on how I’m using my talents to play a role in the bigger “saving-the-world” picture. My job isn’t glamorous and it doesn’t get many points in the cool column, but things would be much more messy if I, and people like me, weren’t around.
…Which brings me to the beginning again.
Over the last year, Mark and I have been religiously watching, and we’re on Episode 5 of Season 4. On Friday night, we saw the episode where Lily Tomlin was being vetted for her job in the White House. Security was concerned about a letter she wrote saying something about putting arsenic in the President’s tea. Now, having grown up wanting to be a secretary, I am quite familiar with 9 to 5, where Lily Tomlin plays a disgruntled secretary in a plot to poison her boss. I caught the reference, which reminded of my early job aspirations, which triggered this post.
An executive assistant is a politically-correct secretary. I’m doing what I said I wanted to do when I was five! How did I know?
p.s. It was also somewhere in this episode, that I noticed that West Wing has been a big part of my job training this year. Donna Moss rocks!