I have a prize for the person that can guess the amount of times I’ll say the word ‘meeting’ by the end of the article – if you guess right, you’re well versed for the working world my friend!
Stop and set your prediction in the comments now!
To: The Assistant, with Love x
Meetings will be held in your company/ in your office/ at your job every single day! Ranging from important ones about big advances, not so important ones in which the key achievement is a suitable date for the next meeting – because there’s no such thing as a waste of time, if it’s a planned waste of time.
Lucky days will give way to quickie meetings, unlucky days present 3-hour longggg meetings with zero toilet breaks (my secondary school math teacher already prepped me for this one) and so on and on!
This particular meeting was ‘special’. Special like a best friends birthday for all the annoying reasons, the main one being the lack of attendance options.
“Are you coming? Yes, yeah …or YES!?
My entire department was strictly required (bold and underlined) to be there, smartly dressed and bushy tailed – comb the bush, tame it yet keep it bushy, eager, attentive and alive! And to be sure we were all clear on the agenda, a pre-meeting was held to discuss the big meeting, as standard.
As an assistant, which is generally the entry-level point to any given job in fashion, you’ll quickly realise where and when you matter the most. Yet time being the headmaster of most life lessons, will also reveal the settings in which you matter the least – giving true meaning to the idea of zipping it and simply ‘assisting’. Your voice or ideas will not always be needed, the former being the example in this case.
The pre-meeting was routine, just a quick 15-min gathering to trim any overgrown bushes and outline the edges.
“Will you be adding anything to the big meeting, you might want to prepare some points”. The question was casually directed at myself and another assistant. That’s odd, I thought, the assistants never ‘add’ anything. As far as meetings go we’re not in charge of a whole ingredient, stirring and watching over is more of our thing. I responded with an “I’ll think” and forgot about it as we filed out of the room.
The day came and so did we. A full squad of 15 fulfilling every fashion office and industry cliche – we were ready, by any standard!
Off to a flying start, all the managers presented their updates to our senior, who in turn relayed advancements on the wider business. I’d smile and nod, nod and smile and before we knew it, 120 seconds separated us from this moment and the one in which our ‘big one’ would be over! VICCCCTOOO…
“Dior, is there anything you’d like to add or ask”. My victory song was cut short! Whaaaaat?! – my other, other boss wasn’t joking! (office hierarchy is one hell of a ladder, very soon you’ll climb it, for now get used to it’s height) She actually wanted me to have something to say, she’d asked me earlier and I’d brushed if off because ‘who was I in the grand scheme of things? Just the assistant!’
I’d studied the rules of the game, I knew my place and this was not one of the situations in which I needed to be heard! Why wasn’t she playing fair, why had she thrown out all the rules? In 3 split seconds, the 7 continents of the world took turns in manipulating my body temperature. Yet I sat in a heat controlled room with 15 members of my team who all seemed completely unaffected. I merely managed to squeak out a ‘No, I – I – I don’t have anything…”
What does that even mean? I have loads of stuff, that I own, but also… that I have to say! Yet, I’d policed myself so bad about how one MUST behave and where I was allowed to give a little bit more, that I missed my biggest ever opportunity to make a small difference.
I embarrassed us, the assistants – well I’m a former assistant. But the point is, maybe they’ll never ask US to speak again, come to meetings another time or even ‘exist’ anymore. I had confined myself to the smallest box of a role. All the while failing to release that, boxes will always exist, yet opportunities will arise in which you will be required to increase it’s parameters!
There is a certain expectation on assistants, a general standard – but don’t miss out on your ‘moment’ to level up.