Archive for August, 2010

I met a goal!

I met a goal!

That may not seem like much to you, but for the first time in my life, I’m in a position where I’ve actively researched, targeted and used my networks to gain a job. Previously I’d always fallen into a position with relatively little knowledge of what was involved, motivated mainly by a need for money and a desire to have a job, any job. More recently this has been “any job that isn’t shitkicker for Toenail Branch at the Dept of Silly Walks”, which led me to the interesting but not too successful stint described in recent posts.

I’d become quite depressed in the previous role – partly because I wasn’t doing very well at it, but also because I couldn’t see any way to a better position. What further education should I do? Is there anything that even interests me? I had a mini- meltdown at my desk, and was rescued by exec assistants bearing tea and biscuits (I love youse guys). They suggested urban planning, which does interest me, but triggers my commitment-phobia – I really, really like keeping things open-ended. Not that that’s why I have a liberal arts degree – that’s just another example of falling into a situation without any planning.

But I’m currently employed in our Not Stepping On The Cracks In Case The Bears Get You branch. I’ve been grilling people from Bears branch for months now, asking them about their day job, how they got here, what the branch does and so on. The position became available because the person in it got promoted, and when I came down for the handover I realised I’d already met him at a function for our clients, which I’d attended to learn more about our crack-avoiding activities. So it was quite exciting to see how all my loose ends were tying together.

Even better, I got the position because I literally wandered around my office saying “you want policy officer? I got briefs and corro and MS Project.” One of our exec assistants (a different one to my knights with tea and biscuits) heard of this at the same time that Andy got kicked upstairs, and left me a post it note with his phone number on my monitor. The rest is yahda yahda yahda. Yes, I have given her a box of Godiva. Be nice to your secretaries! They know where the bodies are buried, and whether they hide pirate treasure.


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My secondment as a project officer is coming to an end, and I return to Toenail branch within a couple of weeks. I’m trying to keep my spirits up by reminding myself that, with the complete lack of important work to do, I’ll be free to look for more career-oriented jobs, and it’s MUCH easier to go to interviews WITHOUT the stench of desperation that comes with being unemployed.

Still, it’s hard to view this as a “learning experience”, even though that’s clearly what it was. I learnt that our large and diverse department has highly fragmented policy, with many units who are semi-coordinated. I learnt that the “policy” section struggles for relevance in this environment, given that individual units can pretty much tell it to get stuffed. Having said that, I haven’t worked in enough other divisions to realize how they might use our “services”.

What I mostly learned is that I really don’t get along well with Statements. You know the ones – Adverb Conjunction Noun Colon Policy Area Statement. Just once, I’d like to see a government release a Statement that says “we will slash productivity, ban exports and ship jobs overseas”. They’d last two seconds but at least it would be a change from bipartisan motherhood faff. (Ironically, there’s a fantastic job being advertised at the moment managing, you guessed it, a Statement. It’s a pay grade above my ability and I’m gnashing my teeth because I know I *could* do it… if it was at my current pay grade.)

So, I need to get into some program delivery. I hear rumors that there’ll be a bucketload of money thrown at the boondocks (there always is, but there’ll be MORE) and they’ll need people to roll it out. In the meantime, I’m feeling unqualified and helpless because I don’t have, and can’t easily get, any kind of qualifications in specialized areas. To make matters worse, I have an alarming tendency to flit from idea to idea like a bumblebee in a sea of daisies. Oooh, courts policy! Oooh, urban planning! Oooooh, gambling regulation! None of which I have any expertise in, and none of which are likely to sustain my interest enough to get a degree in or any bulk of expertise.

Help me out here – am I being utterly precious? Is there a cadre of public service units screaming out for people with enthusiasm and rolled-up sleeves but no particular expertise? It strikes me that being a specialist would be fab up to a certain point of middle management, after which you’d have to go generalist again if you wanted to climb any further.

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