I’ve been at this for about two months now, so there’s lots to say about all aspects of my job. So, in the interest of starting somewhere, I’ll describe what I do all day.
I work 8-5, MWF. I arrive at the office at about 7:50, depending on how early or late my bus is that day. My first tasks are to work out that day’s scheduling for the conference rooms, make coffee, and tidy up the conference rooms and the employee kitchen. I finish all of this before 9:00, at which point I’m sometimes given other tasks to do, and sometimes not. In general, I’m responsible for things like answering the phone, buzzing in guests and making sure they know where to go. I prepare and mail packages, keep the kitchen neat and clean, field random employee questions, and refill printer paper. Other projects I’ve worked on include organizing an overflowing closet of office supplies, collecting and editing employees’ bios for the internal website, and (teaching myself how to do) a merge-mail to get addresses from several hundred company contacts. Sometimes there’s not much for me to do, so I email/read/write/whatever. For the most part I can be found at the front desk, separated from the rest of the office by a wall. It’s fairly isolated, especially compared to the open-office plan that structures the rest of the space. I get paid through lunch, so I work through lunch, which is provided by the in-house chef. I do eat with everyone else, but when the phone rings, I have to get up and go answer it.
And that’s a glimpse into my pre-post-academic life. I’m very strongly aware of how I’m not quite in and not quite out of academia. The question “What do you do?” no longer has a simple answer. I usually just say that I’m writing my dissertation, but sometimes I add that I’m a part-time receptionist. I no longer feel like my academic work defines me, since it is far from the only thing I do now, but I also don’t want my part-time receptionist job to define me. These two things have roughly equal demands on my time, and it’s both of them together that make me who I am right now (most painfully in that I won’t have much of a social life until next spring). Being in the middle is hard enough, and for me it’s complicated because of how acutely I’m made aware of the prestige of the one identity and the low status of the other (more on this in a future post). Nevertheless, I feel like one somehow excuses the other. I’m proud that I’m working while writing my dissertation, and that I’m getting “real world” experience while still officially cloistered in the ivory tower. And I’m proud that I’m writing my dissertation while working: I am more than my job.