Work: Are you really there?

Leo BirdWritten by Leo Bird

I emailed my staffing agency about jobs I was qualified for, and I was told that I was most qualified for the Verification of Income position. However, I was not allowed to miss work for the first month and even after that my employer would be strict on attendance. That is not a difficult task, as I go to class every day without a problem, but the way it was stated made it seem like a serious issue. There is more to a job than showing up, though.

Despite not being in an actuarial position, I have learned from my jobs. As a pre-calculus grader, I was harsh. This was because I wanted to make sure I did my job right, and I knew that students could always appeal for more points. It was an approved practice as long as I was consistent. I believed that the graphs in the answer key should have shown more labels on them. Also, if the same problem was missed by many people, I made a note of it and stopped explaining the error on papers, knowing that it would be talked about in class. I liked this job because it required me to use my judgement. It was satisfying to see improvement with graph making.

Volunteering for Burmese immigrants as a pre-algebra tutor also required judgement and some leadership. I added comments to the main lector’s speech. I also checked the students work for clarity. A few times I improvised a lecture. In both processes I made them think by asking questions like, “Does 2 go into 1,035? How about 3?” Silence. “Does anyone remember the rule? Add up all the digits and see if they add to a number divisible by 3! One plus three plus five equals nine, which is divisible by three!” To show respect, I asked my students if there were basic phrases in their language that I could learn.

My position as an intern through the Easter Seals aided my communication skills. I brought in articles about job skills to job preparation, including one I wrote about interviewing. When we practiced interviewing, I helped my peers make deeper responses by asking for examples of when they demonstrated a personality trait. I learned how to say “good-bye” after delivering a package. It was important to me to get feedback from my supervisors about how I was doing on jobs. They gave me a good review, as I responded to feedback well.

At Equifax, I am gaining endurance for doing a task for an extended period of time. Every day we are scored for how much work we do and how many errors we make. Errors bring down our score a lot, and we have meetings if lots of people are having problems. One time a coworker watched me work and he gave me recommendations for improving. We have score goals for promotion, and the congratulations we get for passing them feel great. If I don’t bring my badge in, I will not be able to work. There was also a program about security we had to complete, and I learned a lot from it. I also need to email my supervisor if I am having trouble with an assignment. As I do not get to talk to my coworkers much when I work, lunch hour is an important time to get to know my coworkers.

One thing I have heard some people doing is asking why they did not get the job. Although well-intended and different people have different opinions, I disapprove of this because I would be too tempted to bargain with the interviewer. A more polite way of handling the situation would be to ask, “What additional qualifications would you like me to have?” This shows that you want to put in the effort to do a good job and would not lead to bargaining.

I hope that when you work, you do more than going through the motions and work to improve. “Optional” assignments like cleaning refrigerators are not as optional as they seem. Also see if your company has an employee referral program.