What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Executive Assistance

So I finally had an interview.  Three actually.  I had one with the World Bank that I will discuss in detail another time, and then a first and second round interview with a "liberal" think tank here in NYC.  No no, it wasn't to actually be think tanking, but to work as an executive assistant to three of the top people in the company.  A foot in the door and an honest day's pay.  But I didn't get the job.  Yeah, it doesn't matter that I would be great at it, or that it would be a fabulous foothold in a place that could offer both a career for me and a better understanding of how a think tank works should we desire to turn the Occupy Think Tank into a funded endeavor.  No all that matters I guess is that I didn't get it.  Why?!  I don't know, but I'm going to speculate.

I'm overqualified.  Would I stay?  Can I actually do the job being that my history doesn't show I've done it?  Those were the types of questions being asked in the second interview.  The first phone interview went well.  It was a little labored at first, but eventually hit a groove.  I liked the woman I would be working for.  I think she liked me enough as well - after all she brought me in for a second interview with the team.  But the woman at the head of operations didn't seem to feel the same.  I felt it during the interview, and completely knew it as I walked back into their office following my "test".  What can I do?  Again, it doesn't matter whether I can or want to do the job, its whether they think I can - or more importantly it seems "would". 

Hell yeah I would have!  People don't understand what life is like right now for many people.  I am applying for a job assisting positions that I have done because I WANT TO.   I want a job, I want stability, and I thought this place would be great for that.  What job I do doesn't matter as much as being able to be a part of something I believe in while getting a solid days work done, especially if there is room to eventually move there.  Frankly, I can do any of these jobs.  I'm sorry to say this, but that job was not difficult.  That may sound arrogant, but yeah, I'm a smart, educated guy.  Yes, I don't have experience working simultaneously for three different executives and juggling their needs, but I do have experience juggling a world so far more complex than three executive's and an office's needs.  And I do not mean for that to belittle this position, just to state unequivocally that I could do this work.  But I don't think that was the problem, they know I can do this work.  They think I'm overqualified because my resume has "higher" positions on it.  Or maybe its because I have more ambition than just being an executive assistant.  But who takes a job like that wanting nothing more - ever?  Not to mention that the people that have experience working as an executive assistant for three people would still be in that position if A, they were really good at it, and B they wanted to do it. 

The fact is that "qualified" is subjective.  It has nothing to do with the past, and everything to do with the present.  The current job market doesn't care what I've done in the past, it cares what positions there are right now and what jobs I can actually get.  Right now, I am an entry level to late entry level worker.  I know this.  Save a handful of jobs a year that I probably will never know exist, I am only qualified for jobs I am "overqualified" for.  Because the job advertisement's I'd BE qualified for on paper are the ones I'm under qualified for in today's job market given the other applicants being "overqualified" for those positions!  I accept that, why don't you?

These companies don't realize that they can get better employees than they once could for these positions.  That's where the labor market is right now.  It's actually the way capitalism is SUPPOSED to work.  Excess labor creates competition, which spurs training and personal inovation, lowers wages, and always leaves a group of people to replace others should they ask for wage increases or better working conditions.  We can all be let go, its why we work 80 hour weeks for one person's pay.

You can get me at a bargain, that's what the market bares.  Yet, you somehow think I won't take it or won't stay.  Yeah, if one of the job applications I put in at the UN came though I might take it.  But they are temporary positions, and I don't want to be looking for work again in 4 months.  I want to work.  I want to do something I believe.  Those are my two conditions.  This job provided both - PLUS a chance at a future!  So sad that they didn't see what I could offer, or maybe that I couldn't sell them what I would offer.  Either way though, I am now still unemployed, still searching, still wondering when people are going to figure it out...  That I have a lot more to offer than they want.   

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