Q: I was just hired by a marketing services firm. It is an entry-level opportunity and I am grateful to have found a position related to my major and career interests.
When I was hired my job responsibilities were explained to me in great detail. However, I am doing a lot more “grunt” work than I expected. I am learning the ropes but I hate photocopying and running out to pick up lunches for client meetings, etc. Sometimes I am asked to participate in client meetings but sometimes I am not. They also have asked me to cover the front reception desk when the receptionist is out or she takes a break. Do you think this is reasonable to ask of a college grad?
A: Congratulations on landing your first job in a very challenging economic environment! You are especially fortunate to be working in a company where you will gain valuable experience related to your career interests.
You were also fortunate that your job responsibilities were explained to you in advance. You are probably one of the least experienced employees. Often the least experienced employees handle many of the less glamorous tasks like photocopying or errands. However, if you demonstrate flexibility and willingness, you will likely be rewarded. Especially in smaller work environments, everyone is expected to chip in, whether it is picking up supplies on the way to work or replacing toner at the photocopier. Don’t complain about handling these more clerical tasks. Instead do them well. Make sure that you thank whoever invites you to client meetings. Explain that this is an incredible learning experience for you. Share that you hope to be in a more client-facing role some day (if this is a longer term goal).
Many of my clients have a requirement for all new hires, regardless of level. The requirement: WIT or whatever it takes. Many companies prefer to hire employees who will do whatever it takes. That might mean picking up a candidate at the airport on a Friday night. It might mean ordering food for a lunch meeting that popped up unexpectedly. It might mean buying a desk for a new employee. It may be way beyond the scope of your job description.
You won’t be in this job for a lifetime. You will likely use this job as a stepping stone to another role in marketing.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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