I worked for law firms throughout my 18-year career. It was not an easy journey for me. I enrolled in a program through my high school, which was a temporary, part-time job just delivering mail, ordering lunches, etc. As with anything you choose to do in your life, you must be motivated to learn more, do more, and ask what you can do more.
While on my downtime during this time at this particular law firm. I started typing and taught myself how to type. I was thinking that if I could learn to do this as quickly as I could, maybe there would be more for me than this part-time gopher job. I always asked secretaries if there was anything I could do for them, if they had any typing that wasn’t priority that I could do for them, and before you know it, I was asked to stay on after high school as their receptionist.
Although this was merely a receptionist job, I was happy because I truly did not know what I was going to do after high school. I kind of fell into this job and it was a pleasure for me to go to work. After getting used to this new position, I soon began to do my rounds with the secretaries and ask for overflow typing projects, etc. I worked very hard and always was genuinely polite and nice and within the year I was given a promotion to a secretary. I could not believe it. I had worked hard and made every effort to do things even outside my job description so that I could learn more and this promotion was very exciting for me. I did my job well, had errors like everyone else, but quickly overcame them. I did not dwell on it, but moved forward with enthusiasm. As a secretary I had looked around at the other secretaries in the office, most of whom were happy doing what they were doing and some were just miserable.
I realized that those that had that enthusiasm and like of the job were happy where they were at. This is what they wanted in life and enjoyed it. The secretaries that were miserable just didn’t seem to care whether they were there or not. I knew at this point that there was more for more but did not know how or what. I remained with this firm for 8 years and decided to spread my wings. Yes, the firm I worked for was one of the best in the city, but I wanted more. Well what I wanted seemed to take years, but I kept pursuing it. I continued as a secretary working for a senior partner that was the defense attorney for the police department in the state. This was an especially good time in my career, but better things were to come. After many years, a marriage and child later and one on the way I wanted to make a change. I packed up and moved to Vermont. I enrolled in school that specialized in the study of paralegals. I did excel and was even encouraged by my professors to attend the law school in Vermont where I choose to settle down. With two little ones at home I just couldn’t see that happening no matter what I did, they would suffer for not having their mom present in their lives. Yes, eventually it would have paid off, but for me it was not worth the alternative. So, I continued my work as a secretary for awhile until I was hired as a paralegal for a firm near where I lived. It was the highlight of my career coming from delivering mail and ordering lunches to finally having what I wanted. I would have loved to attend law school but my circumstances were such that it just could not happen.
I settled into my new job with my name on the letterhead. I was so proud of myself, because I was never a good student in school, and even though it was a small real estate firm, it didn’t matter. There were two attorneys, a secretary and myself. One of the attorneys decided to start her own practice and took the secretary with her. I felt the dreaded downgrade coming, but it did not. In fact, I became an equal with the lawyer I worked with, more like partners than the previous lawyer surprisingly. I took all the meetings with clients, scheduled the real estate closings, did the work for all of these meetings and dealt with the bankers and realtors — and it was exactly what I wanted. I would get out of the office to do title searches and dealt with the community. It was the best part of my life, career wise, and family wise until the day I found out that I was ill and would need to go on medical leave.
I didn’t realize at the time the impact I had on the community and the people I came into contact with and the lawyers I worked with to close deals until that day came and I received a stuffed envelope. I couldn’t even imagine what it was. When I opened it and read the letter as the checks came falling out I realized how very much people respected and admired me in the community because of how I treated them. They felt the need to (behind my back) raise some money for my family and I while I would be out of work. It was a teary moment there to know that people do appreciate someone who make them have a good day, or someone who will go out of their way to help fix a problem without wanting acknowledgment that they had fixed the problems or did the work. I knew then that the most important advice to give anyone no matter what they choose to do with their life would be to do the best you can in the job that you have. If you are a bus driver, be the best driver you can be. If you are a teacher, be the best teacher you can be. Go that extra mile to make someone’s day because in the end you will have touched someone’s life at some point and you will always be remembered as that “person” who was always there helping no matter the job you choose to do.