Starting Over in a Startup Culture

I want to preface this with how lucky I am to be working in a startup that allows and commends personal growth, even out of your hired position. Not every company has this specific kind of free-flowing culture that pushes you to be your best self. Even if it means redefining the boundaries of your job. So, if you happen to work with a similar culture, count yourself as one of the lucky few who have wiggle room to pursue the career that you want.

A short backstory for where my position all started from. I was hired as a temporary administrative assistant while the current admin went on maternity leave. It was easy enough and I ended up changing up a few core tasks to make them more manageable. They liked me so much they hired me.

I was given a new position created just for me. It was able to be adapted at will and left wide open for growth in the future. So while it started off slow, it quickly filled up with a multitude of different tasks. Then things changed and people left, including our administrative assistant, and I went back again to the role I had been first hired to do.

My created position fell on the back burner as I was needed more and more managing the front desk (which meant dealing with the scheduling and management of clients, organizing paperwork, and restocking supplies). The ever growing and demanding administrative work never seemed to end. There are countless emails, calls, and people that you need to deal with that seem to inquire the same questions every day. I was doing simple office work that called for little to no brain power. I was a zombie going through mundane tasks. My requests for more exciting work were left forgotten or met with other unskilled tasks no one else had time for.

Finally I’d had enough. I snapped one day and was rude to a client in front of my superiors. And to make matters worse, I was then rude to them when confronted. They quickly got me into a meeting and asked what was wrong. They told me, “this isn’t you” and asked for ways they could help me remedy the problem.

I’ll be honest with you, I was blunt in that meeting. Truly open and honestly blunt. What did I have to lose? Either they were going to fire me or I was going to achieve a change. I told them that I hated my job. It was boring. I wasn’t happy because I felt like it lacked creativity and I felt this was just a job. I brutally told them that I was only here for the money at this point.

But guess what? I’m still here, but I’m happy.

They were appreciative of my honesty and clarity regarding the situation. It helped them make a quick change and we discussed ways I could add to my job to make it more worthwhile. I’m still sitting at the front but I’m not just working as an administrative assistant anymore, instead I’m a jack-of-all-trades. I get into all the departments here and there. Taking a little piece of each to work on to fulfill my need to learn and be creative. I’m now offered a wider range of tasks, and I feel more at ease to speak up about something I want to start exploring.

This culture has truly allowed me to fully explore my strengths and work at improving my weaknesses. They understood that as a complex person I needed to feel fulfilled in my job, and when it wasn’t cutting it, they helped to understand why and actually improved it. I’m so grateful to be working in an environment that actually cares about their employees and understands that just because you have a written job description, doesn’t mean you have to fit into its mold.

It’s always nice to learn your company views you as more than just employees. We’re individual people with intricate thoughts and emotions. Our differences make us unique to every job we hold and if we’re able to adapt those differences to make our jobs better, well that just means those jobs are more valuable to the company.

I’m not here to tell you that the startup mentality is the most amazing and greatest thinking out there, but it does offer your employees the ability to become much more than their assigned titles. It allows them to adapt to the differences within the culture during your growth periods. I fully appreciate what it’s done for me and my ever growing and changing position. I’m no longer unhappy with the more everyday tasks when I’m able to shift into complex thinking at the click of a button.