Being an administrative assistant is not the most glamorous or interesting job in the world. Don’t get me wrong—it’s a very challenging and important position to hold. You are relied upon every day as the go-to person who knows everything. But it’s filled with a lot of routine work. Luckily, in my case there are solutions to overcome that. Where I work and who I know makes all the difference.
I work in the Research and Collections department at the Canadian Museum of Nature. It means I work for palaeontologists, mineralogists, botanists, curators, fossil-preparation technicians and zoologists… all experts in the realm of natural sciences.
One of the many benefits of working with such a diverse group of experts is that I learn something new every single day. Did you know that poison ivy is still poisonous after it’s collected and pressed on a herbarium sheet and placed in our botany collection? Did you know that some minerals change colour when exposed to UV light? These are some of the fascinating facts I learn from my colleagues.
Another added benefit is that on occasion I can participate in local field work with one of our experts (told you: it’s who you know!). This past October I got to assist in local field work with our Assistant Collection Manager Michel Picard around the municipality of Blue Sea, in the Outaouais region of Quebec. This opportunity let me experience one of the facets of his work. It’s now easier for me to understand how and why we collect things, how they are added to our existing collections, and how they fit into the museum’s mission.
It also gave me a good perspective of my role and how it fits in a larger picture. I don’t just process a travel claim now. I understand where the expert was, why he was there and the added benefits it brought to the museum.
I’m lucky to have a job that allows me the opportunity to learn and grow and work with a wide range of different people. If you think you’d like to be able to experience something similar to me, you can, by branching out and expanding your inner circle at work. Take the time—even five minutes a day—and get to know the people you work with. One day you may be writing a blog about who you know and the exciting opportunity it gave you.