Make Yourself Memorable

As I’ve said before, I work in customer service at a very popular store near the university campus. I have friends in the area come through my line all the time. We’ll chat a bit, catch up, maybe make plans with each other. Other times, it’s people I haven’t seen in quite a while. Sure, we have each other on Facebook and have liked each other’s statuses from time to time, but we haven’t actually talked in ages.

A few weeks back, a young man came into the store. It took me a second to recognize him before I remembered him from his old fraternity. Back in school, we used to hang out at the DJ table at his frat parties, get goofy on the dance floor, and keep an eye on the other party-goers. We had what I thought were many a good talk at charity events, and would see each other regularly at greek events on campus. He wasn’t a very close friend, but a good enough acquaintance that I was happy to see him that day. When I walked over to say hi, he didn’t remember me. I brought up a few events we had worked at together, parties we were both at, a few memorable times we had……. and still, nothing. It wasn’t until I mentioned a certain friend that he had that light bulb moment. “Of course, you’re Becky’s friend! I remember Becky? How is she?”

Sadly, this happens a lot. I spent the fist part of my university career living with my best friend. We did everything together. When we weren’t in class, we were usually together. Having a lot of the same friends, this was pretty easy. We already went to the same parties, the same events, and the same bars. Living together AND being BFFs, it just made sense to just go to these things together.

After I moved out, not much changed. Sure, we weren’t sleeping under the same roof, but we were still together all the time. We joined some of the same clubs, sat on the same committees, even took a few classes together. Soon, people saw us as a pair, and our roles in this pair became clear: I was the Garth to her Wayne. She was the one everyone knew, everyone remembered, everyone talked to. I was just sort of…… there. Sure, I had a good time, and made a few good friends. But to everyone else, I was just sort of Becky’s shadow. Even when I ventured out without her, people asked me where she was.

Now, all these years later, this is coming back to haunt me. It turns out, I don’t have an identity of my own. I’m not anything to anyone. I’m nothing memorable. I’m just….. there. And you know what? It really, really sucks. People I used to know just two years ago look right through me, and only remember me once I mention Becky. And it’s not just the first time they run into me that this happens. The guy who came into my store? It turns out he lives across the street from me, and sees me pretty much every day from his study window. He still had no clue who I am, though.

I’m really not sure what kind of advice I can offer to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. I mean, obviously I more than failed at being someone who people remember. If anyone out there has any advice on how NOT to let this happen, please tell me! Because this really sucks. It hurts to realize that no one wants to remember you. It hurts knowing that you are just an afterthought when a certain someone else isn’t right there with you. And it hurts knowing that what you thought were great memories with great people were really just meh-times for them, not worthy of ever remembering again.

The Positive Side of Temporary Employment

So, I have been working at my old University for the past month and a half as a temporary secretary. Most of the other office staff I’ve talked to here have said that this is how they got their positions here, many years ago. In fact, it’s damn near impossible to get a job here without some sort of “in” like this.

Which brings me to today’s topic. Sometimes, temporary employment is the best thing you can go for. I really wish I had realized this sooner, too. Many, many people tried to talk me out of going to a temp agency when I said I was looking for a job. To them, a temp job was 2 week placement somewhere to cover a vacation leave, or to fill a spot while the company tries to restructure their office. While there are some negatives to this sort of employment (which I’ll get to for Monday’s post), there is a whole host of positive things to consider when thinking about going to a temp agency.

-you’ll get a chance to use you skills and keep them current. Sitting at home, emailing out your resume to companies every day isn’t doing much to keep you on your toes when it comes to Excel, or even more advanced Word functions. Getting thrown into a strange office and being told to keep up with their paperwork really puts you to the test, though. It gives you a chance to polish any rusty skills, and possibly learn (or re-learn) new ones. I totally forgot that I know how to not only create flyers in Word, but can make them look pretty damn professional AND turn them into PDFs!

-you get to try out positions without commitment. You may think you want to get into a certain career, or even a certain company. But you won’t know for sure until you actually do it. What if, in the course of your temp placement, you discover that you would rather shove rusty nails in your ears and hit them repeatedly against a cement wall than have to sit in a room for 8 hours with your co-workers? As a temp worker, you only have a short time with those people, and can run far, far away when your placement is over.

-networking!!!!! In my position here, I’m in a department I hadn’t been to much before, and only knew two professors in. As such, I’ve had to meet and get to know a whole department full of professors, graduate students, and support staff. I’ve also been able to make myself visible on campus again, connecting with people from my old departments, the IT staff (who must hate me now, thanks to this damn copier here!), HR, and a whole mess of other support staff on campus. Now, when my resume is brought up again for any temp or permanent position, they all have a face to go with the name AND have no shortage of people to talk to who know me.

-this got me out of my pyjamas and out of the house. After job hunting for so long, things start to look a little dark. I’m not going to lie, there are some days when I didn’t bother putting on real pants, and just sat around in jammies all day, skimming job search sites. With this position, I am forced to get up and out of bed every weekday AND put on my grown-up clothes!

Sadly, today is my last day here with this assignment. The regular secretary will be back in her office on Monday. This means my afternoon will be spent making sure I leave her space exactly the way it was when I got here in February.

Hopefully, though, I’ll be back working on this campus again soon!

A Little Bit on Networking

Networking is a VERY important part of life. In fact, it’s such a vital, important, life defining part of your life that no one ever bothers teaching you about it. ¬†Yep, networking is such a vital part of job hunting, starting a career, career advancement…….. and no one bothers teaching it!

Mind you, this is a HUGE topic! Every time I think I have it all worked out, I learn there are another 47, 623 things I need to learn. How do you meet people? Keep in touch? Is there some sort of protocol for communication? Seriously, how do we do this?

Well, I don’t have all the answers. BUT, I’m learning them. I’m working things through, learning as I go, trying to figure out what the hell is going on. I got myself a LinkedIn account, go through my University’s Alumni Newsletters, and look for workshops to take. Still, I have no freakin clue what I’m doing.

So, I’ll update as I go, let you all know what I learn. And, while I’m doing this……. anyone out there have any advice they want to throw my way?