Bad Job Search Advice


Today I went in to the office I'll be working at this summer to get a quick primer on the operational-level stuff I'll be doing. Computer software, where stuff is in the office, etc.

Before I begin, I should start by pointing out that my most significant work experience was working as a clerk at the library in Berkeley. Most of my work involved various operations with the book and patron database, GLADIS. There was some general troubleshooting, periodic faxing and copying and laminating. Occasionally I worked with a typewriter. But mostly user-level databasey stuff.

When applying for this spring, I was told by everyone who offered me advice to de-emphasize the library stuff and find more volunteer/legal stuff. This was troublesome becaues I don't have a lot of experience with volunteer work or legal type stuff. Nonetheless, I reduced the library work to a bare minimum, practically a footnote on the resume, and replaced it with various relatively small-scale commitments (helping a friend teach a DE-Cal class, working as a poll worker in the 2002 California Primaries). Even that drew some comments from interviewers. "Library work? This is a legal job. How will that prepare you to work here?" I'd come to the opinion that I had wasted a year and a half working at the library, that my facility with GLADIS and Telnet and PINE and the IBM Selectric Typewriter were all a waste.

I arrived at the office this afternoon and was greeted by the paralegal who'll be coordinating most of my work this summer.

"Mostly what you'll be doing is working with these files that come in. You'll look up the tenant name in our database... Have you used a database before?"

"Yes, I have some experience."

"Oh, good. Well, you'll get a variety of different forms every day, each is handled in a different way, but I've put the details in this binder, which I've labelled the Intern Manual."

"Ah, I see. I think I should be able to handle that."

"Good. Anyhow, mostly you'll be processing these files and making alterations to the database."


"Now let me show you where the copier is."

"Oh, I think I've used that exact model of copier back at the library."

"Alright then, here's the cabinet in the back where we get office supplies... And this is our IBM Selectric Typewriter. I'll need to show you how to use this; we occasionally need to enter information into forms on it..."

"You know, actually, we used that exact model of typewriter back at the library for making labels."

"Well, okay then. I think you're set."

The whole training session took about 20 minutes. I will, essentially, be doing a slightly modified version of clerk work this summer. The only thing I've messed up so far, and that I need to get a handle on, is that I keep referring to the people in the database as "Patrons" rather than "Tenants." I only wish the files we were working with came on 3x5 cards rather than regular sheets of paper.


I think they might be 4x6 cards; they're definitely larger than your average index card. The better for grocery lists, I've found.

Is it good or bad that you'll be doing the same stuff you did at the library? I could see it being either a relief or totally stultifying, depending on your outlook. And do you think that at some point the person training you got suspicious as you greeted each instruction with, "Why, fancy that, I did that at my old job too!"?

On a last library note, do you remember my truck, Chariots of the Gods? Was it still around the Stax when you left? It's been absent since I came back and half of the sups can't remember ever having seen it. I'm starting to suspect that someone in Technical Services ran off with it as soon as I left.

Tech services will do that. I distinctly remember the truck, but I can't remember seeing it in forever. It's quite probably that Tech Services snagged it.

Speaking of, I charged one of the sups with making my truck before I left, but I kind of doubt it ever got made. It was supposed to be called "Mink Truck" after the TMBG album. Any sign of anything like that?

None at all! Who did you leave in charge of it? It had better not be Denise, because today was her last day so I have no further opportunity to put pressure on her.

It's alarming me a little bit that the sups I knew before I left -- Denise, Katy, Garrett, Veronica, I'm probably forgetting someone here -- are all leaving this year. The sups who were there when I started are long gone; the current sups don't even recognize any of them by name. The people who were sups when I was a clerk are gone too. The sups who are now graduating and leaving are people who started as SLEs when I was already a clerk, and the new sups for next semester are people I've just met. Gack! I'm going to be one of those people who only knows the boss and doesn't mingle with the other employees!

This is a great big digression; apologies. You apparently opened the floodgates by merely mentioning the library.

Who did I leave in charge... It might have been Veronica, though I'm not certain. It definitely wasn't Denise, and it wasn't Katy, either. Jessica, perhaps? Anyhow, I know I told Bridget to make sure it happened, but, given that she had the entire mantle of clerking plus training a new clerk to pick up when I left, it's hard to blame her. How is she, by the way? See any of her?

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on May 17, 2006 5:51 PM.

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