Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taking A Bow and Bowing Out.

In April of 2009, almost one year after I had graduated from Ivy League, I began a pretty hardcore job search. I finished up an internship that had brought me through my first (non)academic year after college, the world was totally not my oyster. So after a month of living on the west coast without a job, I moved back east. And in with my Dad.

By September, I had my first job in the restaurant industry serving room service at 6 a.m. at a trendy hotel in a kitchen run by a star chef. I moved out, went to work, and doggedly applied for any jobs I could find. I also busted my ass at the restaurant, and clawed my way up from room service to being a barista, a busser, and then a breakfast server. And unlike most of my coworkers, I was really into it. I had long followed our chef on blogs like Eater, I was friendly with the cooking team who enjoyed my supreme foodie geekdom, and it turned out I was a good seller. But those mornings were brutal. For months, I worked as a server and a barista, arriving to work weekdays and weekend brunches at 7 a.m.

When New Years Eve rolled around, my typical bahumbuggery for the holiday was replaced by an intense euphoria. "2009 fucking sucked, 2010 has got to be better" was my quote of the week and not surprisingly, several of my peers felt the same way. The economic crash had not only pulverized our dreamy career expectations, but many of us spent 2009, our first year out of college, living with our folks. We didn't have jobs (let alone cool jobs), we didn't have prospects. 2009 really blew. But 2010 was going to be better. I started writing in April of 2010, one year after my earnest job search began.

Although I kept looking for other work, I consistently worked hard at the restaurant, and got myself another promotion. In part due to the fact that I never turned down the opportunity to cover another server's shift, I became the sub. Someone doesn't show up? I'd be there. And I was outselling them. I worked hard and fast to get my tray skills up to par and began getting regular cocktailing shifts. I enjoyed my shifts for the most part, didn't mind the grunt work, and loved having stories to write when I got home. I would get comped at restaurants across the city, and I was part of the industry in-crowd by virtue of how cool the restaurant I worked at was. Life was good.

But it wasn't great. I often felt frustrated, one of the managers hated me, and I had a small gnawing voice inside telling me I should do something to move forward. The months slipped by, I still was regularly reading job boards, and on a whim applied to be an office manager of an extremely prestigious restaurant group. I took a gamble by accepting the position even though it was only offered as a month temp gig, but on September 30, 2010 I was offered a full time job there. Two weeks later, the Chef sat me down to tell me that he wants me to take over for her his personal assistant, whom he wants to promote after 2 years of doing his PA work. And my benefits kick in in December.

My job is delightfully all-consuming. (Is it weird that it feels good to be stressed?) I'm learning what it takes not just to run a successful restaurant, but a successful business. And the industry clout I thought I had will soon be paling in comparison to the fact that television production companies and food magazines will soon be filing away my contact information since I will be a gatekeeper to this organization and the Chef at its helm. Yes, I spend an unfathomable percentage of my work life on the phone with hotels and airlines, and yes I do an insane amount of filing every day, but I am now fully employed and well on my way to A Career. During my evaluation, the higher ups discussed my long term goals, asking me in earnest if I was planning on sticking around for years. I am. And I'm kind of loving this newfound stability. My job is crazy, but my life is no longer.

Part of the original subtitle of my blog was in reference to "my journey to find full time employment." Just over 2 years after graduating, the journey has ended and the mission has been accomplished. And if I may say so myself, it's been accomplished in a big way. The site's not going anywhere, but I am. Chef's calling on the blackberry!

The assistant/office manager/gal friday formerly known as Underemployed