Learning New Tricks

Ever have one of those “Dawn breaks at Marblehead” moments? One of those moments where you have that internal conversation with yourself, saying.. “duh” I get it.”

Any career path has them. Perhaps it is the moment you realize your new boss is younger than you are… (always a tough first.. and I don’t believe you if you say you don’t care.. you are LYING! ) ha ha. Or, maybe it is the day you suddenly realize that you are, indeed, at a key point of your career.. either willing to learn new things to keep up or you are not.

It’s been interesting because in my current position in the IT world, the job requires not only a great grasp of technology vocabulary, but a new working-world view, big-picture view–of just how important business systems are for corporate America.

Up until 3 years ago, I was the typical employee (known in tech support world as an end-user. (Please, dont’ go there.) I really didn’t know the verbiage.. I only knew that the program I was working in.. either froze, or kicked me out or I’d get a blue screen of death message… or even more embarrassing.. forget my timesheet password and need to request a re-set.

Of course, these days.. I’m on the helpdesk side of things and I have a whole new perspective..and a customer service advantage… because I’ve been that caller who is taking heat from the boss to get their system back up and running (critical to the boss..but NOT critical to the network folks.) It means when I take a call off our line, I am now more sensitive to the payroll staffer, more empathetic to the admin who is serving as a proxy for their supervisor’s expense report, and more savvy to hardcore number crunchers and programmers.. who live to find any or all of the smallest issue they consider to be a BUG in our system. They actually spend time testing our system with plenty of test cases. And, though sometimes it can be irritating, I’ve learned that our engineering staff really loves those folks because sometimes they discover issues that would have never been found.

But career growth is what I thought I was focusing on.. how little did I realize I was dragging my feet.. metaphorically stomping my feet like a petulant 5-year old with the phrase in my head..””but I don’t wanna take on more.. ..” waaahh.

And I discovered it when my immediate supervisor asked me to take on more duties. Learn more, be more involved, take risks. All along, I thought I already had been doing these things.. and I had… but reluctantly, even grudgingly… And, why? Well, I imagine it was fear of failure or fear of looking or sounding stupid.

So my a-ha moment came… and unbeknownst to me, my supervisor was listening in on my call (yep.. they really do check calls for quality assurance..) and happened to mention it in one of our staff meetings. How I’d really picked up the pace and started to take on the more challenging calls without reverting to engineering or developer backup. I never even realized I hadn’t been trying to do that all along. I was on cruise control, I suppose.

Receiving that feedback has been crucial. It has made me look at the job description I was given when hired and honestly determine if I am taking on all the tasks I was hired to do. How sobering to come to the understanding that this company has allowed me more than a year to ride the learning curve. Pretty unheard of in the typical administrative assistant positions. Now the key is .. how far will I take it?

I hate the cliche –you can’t teach an old dog new tricks , because I’ve always felt I
a) was not an old dog and b) believed I was always willing to learn new tricks..Or in this case new skills. So I’ve decided to take an approach I learned from a Rolling Stones song… Can’t Always Get What you Want..

I’ve interpreted it to the administrative workplace- from my own wacky perspective.

Lyric (my thoughts)

You can’t always get what you want ( read: recognition, really long lunches, cushy no brainer job, big raises…super funny bosses)

but sometimes, you just might find.. You get what you need

(read: you have a job, you are learning new things (how to deal with software, people and patience with customers on the phone you can’t believe!.. and these skills provide what you need and may provide just the experience you need to move up and on.)

Could you be that person…. the one that liked things the way they were always done? the one that just wishes things could be like they used to be… Only you know the answer.

Author: KMK Foley

Storyteller. Wicked sense of humor. Tenacious learner, Coffee Lover, especially Dunkin' Donuts.