Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Talk

Last week, my boss had me make a few copies of a PowerPoint presentation he was giving that day. Since things were slow and I had little to do, I made myself a copy and "for fun" copyedited it. I didn't do anything with it afterward, or even mention it to my boss, but I did hang on to my marked-up copy.

Well, lo and behold... This afternoon, my boss came up and asked, "Do you remember that PowerPoint presentation I was working on last week?" As it turned out, his higher-ups had gone over it and come back with a list of edits that they wanted him to make, which he wanted me to do for him. Which was when I got to triumphantly nearly-shout "A-ha!" and whip out my already marked-up version! Then I started comparing the list in his hand to what I'd already found: 95% of the style/grammar/punctuation stuff they wanted done, I'd already marked! :) :) He was very happy, and I looked very good.

"Yes," I said, fake-modestly, "I had some free time last week, so I thought I'd copyedit just for fun. Most of my jobs before this one have been copyediting and proofing. I LOVE this stuff!"

I actually didn't know if my skill set would matter to him, since it's a techie environment. So I was greatly surprised when he acted super-happy! As it turns out, his bosses are VERY into having a uniform style for their documents and have always been quick to let him know when his department's output needed to be rewritten and restyled. Then he went to his office and dug up the style sheets they'd given him, but that no one in his office had ever actually used! Just like every set of style sheets that I'd ever seen, whether my office was a publisher or a financial company or a newspaper! I felt immediately in my element and told him that any time he had any docs to go out, I'd be happy to look them over first!!

And THAT led to... "Stephanie, I've been meaning to ask you..."

What were my job goals? Did I want to stay a temp, or was I looking for a permanent position? Which is when I got to gush: "I REALLY want a PERMANENT position! Oh my gosh, I'm so SICK of being a temp! I've been temping for 2 years after getting back from New York, and I'd really like some STABILITY!"

Well, the NYC mention then brought on fun conversation about NY and how we both think it's impressive, and then he started asking even better stuff like, "So, what is your educational background?" ("Master's in English" always sounds good when I get to throw that around, especially when I'm working as a secretary and no one knows anything else about me!) And then he asked about all the copyediting work I'd done. (All the areas from educational publishing to newspaper work to financial and legal proofing always sounds good.) And then he asked about any university work experience I'd had. (The fact that in 2000 I received my 10-year-pin for all my cumulative years at UT since the '80s sounded VERY good.) And THEN he mentioned that he himself was pretty anal, like a copy editor has to be, and that he got his start doing work in a library, which was the ultimate in persnickety work... Turns out we both worked at the SAME campus library back in the '80s (me as a student shelver, him converting the card catalogue to digital)! :) Oh, and there's more: When he asked if I knew anything about updating websites, I THEN got to go on about creating my Joan Crawford site FROM SCRATCH and the fact that I've been updating it at least two or three times a week for the past 8 YEARS! :) :) THAT part was cool because I got to talk about the amount of research (and, yes, just plain "anal" updating work) that goes into it, but even better because he then asked about Joan Crawford in general (and wanted the address for the site so he could visit)! :)

So we gabbed and gabbed and gabbed for over an hour (me missing a couple of my buses completely, but who minds?!). No, I didn't get a job offer, but there were plenty of hints about how much money his department has to create SEVERAL new jobs in upcoming months. And I could see that he was actively trying to figure out how my skill set would fit into the needs of his department. (Hey, I wouldn't mind at all being part-secretary, as long as I could do other things, too: like copyediting and document-revision and website updating, et al.! And best of all, I got to throw out, just in the natural course of conversation, that I loved the environment I was in and the people I was working with, but that $12 an hour was just not a living wage for me (me, with a Master's degree!). Which he agreed with.

We ended with him asking me to send him my resume once I got home tonight! Just did.

How nice to talk to a boss who LIKES me and is interested in my background and experiences! I cannot stress enough how the hateful, rigid environment at my last 4-week temp gig brought me sooooooooooooo psychologically low. Even before our conversation tonight, my current boss--and the other 4 or 5 people I've been working closely with--have all been genuinely NICE and nice to be around. I've had personal conversations with all of them, and been able to let my real personality show around all of them. (Unlike the last place -- which flashed me back to my very CHILDHOOD, for pete's sake, where my innate exuberance was hammered down at every opportunity by people who constantly made a point of expressing their dislike of my personality. I've spent my years post-18 making my own point of staying far away from those kinds of people. Even if it's cost me jobs/friendships/relationships.)


Jennifer said...

I have my fingers crossed for you. I am so rooting for you to have a permanent job with good pay and benefits. After all you have been through the past several years, it's nice to see you excited about a possibility for your future.

I wish you the best.

Beth Austin said...

Thanks, Jennifer! :) Yes, the last time I had a full-time permanent job, with benefits, was back in October of 2006--a whole 6 years ago! And things have been total chaos ever since! I'm still glad I had my NY experience and would still try it if I had it to do all over again, but... dang! Enough of this instability, already! :)