Around this time last year, I was going through interviews for the YAV program. I remember reading the blogs of past YAVs to get a feel for what my year might be like. I also remember noticing that 9 in 10 blogs slowed down around November with significantly less posts throughout the spring months. I told myself that I would not do that. And here I am.
I get asked by countless people what my job entails. When I began at Miami Rescue Mission, I was given a job description for the administrative assistant role they had created for me. While I certainly do my fair share of administrative tasks, I don’t feel like saying that I am the Center for Women and Children’s administrative assistant is the most accurate answer I can give. Here’s a typical day for me.
I wake up between 6:00am and 7:15am, shower, and get ready for my day (=minimally comb my hair and hope for the best, shove eyeliner in my purse to apply later, spend 20 seconds looking at how peaceful/warm Shinhye looks sleeping in her bed). I catch two buses to get to work. The first one is typically on time. The second one has yet to be on time. Depending on when I decided to get out of bed and how the buses were, I get to work between 7:30am and 8:45am. If I arrive on the earlier side of that, the kids are still hanging out and waiting to go to school or daycare. Some of them will bashfully smile at me when I say good morning to them, some of them will follow me to my office to hide from their moms, and most of them will test me to see if I will let them have candy for their morning snack.
Once I get to my office, I go to the kitchen and make coffee. Here’s a secret that I’m a little ashamed of. I always make just enough for myself because I’m insecure about my coffee making abilities at the point in my life. I don’t want to put my coworkers through my inconsistent brews.
I take my cup of coffee to my office and read the top headlines on Huffington Post for a few minutes. Lately, Huffington Post has just been full of Trump and Hillary headlines, so I let myself venture to Buzzfeed for a more entertaining take on what’s important to know that day.
The next eight hours are spent doing the following:
– answering phone calls. 80% of these are people asking how to get into our center. Unfortunately, I have to tell most of them that we have a waiting list for intake and I can give them another shelter to call, but they probably also have a waiting list. It has taken me a while to get over the responses that happen in these conversations. It’s not uncommon to get cursed at. I typically let them take their frustrations out on me because I’m not living my worst case scenario and I believe that they aren’t actually angry at me.
– working on special projects for my boss, Ms. Aline. Currently, my project has been creating a training manual for new employees. I’ve learned how Ms. Aline prefers things to look over the past few months (for example, drop-down boxes in spreadsheets make her happy. I’ve come to love them a lot…and fancy spreadsheets in general. I’m very proud of one specific workbook I created a while ago) and am very appreciative of her balance between giving me creative freedom but also having a few key things in her own vision of the outcome.
– helping clients. The amount of daily interaction I have with clients varies from day to day based on the amount of staff that are in the office. I can often be found giving them their cell phones as they leave the Center, handing out snack, preparing lunch (unwrapping tin foil and setting out serving spoons…I don’t have to cook!), distributing hygiene items, unlocking rooms/closets, and making ridiculous faces at babies.
– sorting donations. We get daily donations from community members of anything from clothing to school supplies to diapers. We have to count each of these items and report it back to our administrative office as we receive them.
– expressing my honest feelings with my facial expressions and (professional?) sarcastic tones. anyone who knows me should not be surprised by this.
There are tons of other things I’ve certainly done at the Mission that aren’t included in this, but I hope this gives you a better idea of what I do on a daily basis. I’m enjoying working at the Center for Women and Children a lot. I’ve learned how to better interact with people who are different than me – in age, in race, in how they were raised, in they language they know. I’ve learned what parts of working in an office I enjoy and what parts I do not enjoy. I work with women who always have a story to share for each situation I encounter. I don’t experience the dread I often did with my college job and with classes each morning and that’s saying something for this notorious slacker. It’s not as easy as ringing up people’s frozen yogurt, but it’s so rewarding.
Here’s what I look like at 7:30, running on 4 hours of sleep the day after my birthday. My coworkers decorated my office and surprised me with a birthday cake. CFWC is good at celebrations and, in a place that can be exhausting or discouraging at times, you come to learn that you need celebrations in life.