Wow.. How is it that two months have passed since I wrote? That old commercial where it is stated, “Life comes at you fast..” is so true this Spring/Summer. I digress..
Just went with a friend to see the Meryl Streep movie, The Devil Wears Prada. I never read the book, so I was going in with a different perspective than my friend who’d read it.
First off.. I could not watch it without looking at it from the Admin’s perspective. As a member of International Association of Administrative Professionals, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to bosses.
For those who don’t know anything about the movie… it’s about a recent college grad with a journalism degree. She takes a temp job at this fashion magazine as an assistant, basically to “take a job that pays the bills.” She ends up working for a brutally insensitive and demanding fashion editor that (after one year, if she can survive) will open doors to any journalistic career she may want.
Throughout the course of the movie, we see what the character sacrifices for her “career opportunity”. I suppose this is where it chafes me. Perhaps it is a little too close to home reminding me of some bosses and tough working-world lessons I have experienced.
The movie character, Andy, goes through quite the administrative admin initiation, including the makeover to fit in, and the condescending rebukes from the current veteran admin (albeit- one year on the job) in the office, and a great scene that shows the petty and mostly absurd demands made by the boss.
What I noticed immediately, is that no one in the company makes any effort to help the temp. (Ever been guilty of that?) Two of the tools for success for this admin do end up being used by the character. For me, they are the cellphone and notebook.
While many of us have had the experience of working for difficult bosses, we now have had the benefit of maturing past the initial phase of “why doesn’t my boss like me, recognize how hard I’m trying”, self-pitying initial reaction to working with a tough and demanding boss.
Some (not me, unfortunately) were lucky enough to be born with a thick skin. The one guy that ends up helping Andy – states the obvious but difficult truth.. we are being paid to do our job and THAT is what bosses expect from us. Period.
I had a position several years ago that highlighted how my unrealistic expectations could cripple my professionalism, if I let it. And realizing I was already on that beam, chose to move to a different corporate culture. It was, and still is, MY responsibility to realize I was not a good fit, instead of expecting my boss to change because I had been an admin all these years and had years of experience.
This really shows in this film. This poor college grad has no idea of corporate America, what it takes to be an admin to a high-powered executive, the personal sacrifice, the demands, the fine-line personal boundaries. So for me, it is a fine reminder that I don’t care to work for a high-powered and demanding executive. My kudos come from within… not from the boss and the entire corporate staff to stand up and shout from the hilltops.. “Isn’t she an amazing assistant?” Because, we all know.. it most likely isn’t going to happen.
But, we can and we should, shout it to one another… support one another (even that temp that is wearing flip-flops). Who else is going to share the knowledge and encouragement (and perhaps kind workplace fashion advice) in our profession?
It’s up to us.