Friday, January 3, 2014

Beautiful Receptionist Has Bigger Career Plans, Seeks To Be Taken Seriously

Dear Tazi:

I am naturally blonde and large busted, which leads people to think I am a stupid bimbo. I recently started a new job as a receptionist and file clerk for a company I would like to work for in a higher capacity once I finish my college degree.I thought taking this job would be a good foot in the door, but I am starting to think it was a mistake.

Every time I greet a client I am pleasant and professional, and I am making a lot of great business contacts - many of who tell me they would love to hire someone as professional as me! When I tell them that I will be completing my Engineering degree this spring, they do a double take and look completely caught off guard before commenting that they thought I was "just a receptionist" or a "professional secretary" and not an Engineer. Many will then joke about how the women in their Engineering classes were not nearly as pretty as me, which makes me uncomfortable about even pursuing job openings with their firms. I want to be hired for my skills, not my looks!

I have spoken with the owner of my firm about my future career plans, and he has told me that he would be happy to hire me if he has any openings, but right now business is slow and he does not see himself hiring any Engineers in the near future. He told me that all of his clients have said good things about me, so he thinks I should probably see if they are hiring. I didn't have the heart to tell him that his clients - mostly construction companies and architecture firms - all think I am just a pretty face.

I know I should probably be looking for yet another internship at this point, but I have already completed a few and right now my senior Engineering project is taking all the time and mind power I have available for such things. Plus, I really like my job and the people I work with; I am making some fabulous connections; and I am even learning things that I could not possibly learn in school, like how thinks work on a day-to-day level in a real Engineering firm. I have learned which companies pay their bills on time and which ones are practically bankrupt, which will be helpful if I have to look for work in my field at another firm. I have no regrets about my decision to work here, just some concerns about my future. Will my firms clients ever see me as anything but a receptionist? How can I impress upon them the fact that I am a skilled Engineering student who will soon be entering the workforce?

Signed,
Almost There

Dear Almost There:

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! I think the path you are taking to make professional contacts is unorthodox, but brilliant! An Engineering student's senior project is something that can be listed on a resume as a form of field-related experience, so it is not like you are slacking off by working as a receptionist during your final semester of study. Currently, you are working as the eyes and ears of an engineering firm. I am sure that you have seen and heard things that will work to your advantage in the near future - such as which companies are financially solvent and which are not, and even word on who is hiring before opportunities are advertised.

Engineers are always in demand!

You are facing a problem that a lot of women face in the work force - being judged by your looks and not your abilities. I suggest you try to use whatever time you have to interact with clients to the best of your advantage, to show that you have brains as well as beauty. If possible, try to learn what types of projects your firm's clients are working on and familiarize yourself with some of the details. When a client comes to visit, greet them as you always would and ask them how a particular project is coming along, explaining that you are an Engineering student with an interest in these kind of projects. Be sure to mention at which university you are studying - the reputation of your program can open doors for you, too! By proving you have an understanding of the technical jargon - and holding up your end of the conversation with correct use of the same - your clients should be able to see past your pretty face and into the intelligent mind that resides within.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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