Making like a Sponge…and Soaking Information

I have two jobs.

As of now, I’ve been working at one job for ten hours a week for four months in mid-August, and two months at my other job. In the amount of time that I’ve been working at both places, I’ve felt as if my brain is a sponge, and I’m soaking as much information as I can…and there’s a lot!

One of my jobs is as the journal coordinator at an upscale hotel/resort and spa in Napa Valley. This means I write, edit, publish, and distribute the daily Journal and the weekly Journal for their sister property in town. Although this job takes me ten hours or a little less per week, I’ve been learning a lot simply by being in the environment of an in-house communication office. My job doesn’t outsource their public relations or marketing team. The atmosphere is fairly relaxed, and I feel that I learn a lot about public relations and branding: things I didn’t learn firsthand in college. I am witness to media coverage, the process that it takes to receive the media coverage, and managing the day-to-day cultivation of the brand and what it means to stay there or be a member. In some ways, it reinforces what I learned in college, and in others it’s helping me with my collaboration skills and general PR skills, and helping me get a better idea of what kind of company I want to work for during my career.

My second job, which is as the office manager for a 30-employee landscaping company, is proving to be far more intensive learning for me. For one thing, until now I’ve known almost nothing about landscaping, despite the fact that my dad worked in parks and recreation when I was young, loves gardening (the yard is running out of room for fruit trees and plants), and installed the sprinkler system we have in our front yard himself. I’ve always been bad at keeping plants alive or even having a vague interest in them, so it surprised me a bit that I’ve become a lot more interested in plants and landscaping than I have in the past. I’ve been brushing up on and sharpening my Excel skills, working even more on my phone communication anxieties, and constantly battling my aversion to diagrams.

I’m sure you remember those standardized tests you take from elementary to high school that test your skills. Every one of those tests I’ve taken, I’ve always scored in the 99th percentile for spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Math and science were usually about average, sometimes the low side of average. Maps and Diagrams? Below average. Maybe not by much, but enough that it explains my lack of a sense of direction and the brain-pain inflicted when I have to derive information from one. I’m surprised at myself at how diligently I’ve been trying to work past it in this job. I have to derive information from plans all the time, whether it’s copying the irrigation as it’s built to a fresh copy of the plans, measuring the square and linear footage for creating an estimate, or gathering information to do research. The two times I’ve created an as-built of the irrigation for a job, I’ve either gotten a splitting headache or actually concentrated so hard that I began to get nauseous and had to take a break to read something, get a cup of water, and then begin again. At the same time, when I complete it, I get this overwhelming sense of accomplishment that I actually completed it, and completed it correctly.

Other aspects of the job are all over the place. They include being available to take photos of the different jobs we complete, writing descriptions for invoices in a succinct and understandable manner (which at this point is sometimes hard because I’m not always sure what things mean), managing the Google AdWords  and Analytics accounts (again with interpreting diagrams/graphs), and taking control of and attempting to manage/create social media and online presence for the company. I feel like I’m always doing something different and learning something new. At times it’s frustrating because I feel as if I’m stumbling in the dark, but on the other hand it’s never boring.

Working two jobs and with two different sets of coworkers is a challenge sometimes with scheduling, learning to work with different people, etc. But overall, it is definitely worth it. I enjoy both of my jobs and appreciate the experience I’m receiving and taking from every day I’m at work.

How about you? What has your job taught you? Have you had a job that’s not necessarily in your field that gives you a challenge and makes it worth it?


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