The greatest thing about working in operations is that it is a necessity in every industry. Your skills are transferrable. For me, getting into operations happened right after college. I started a career in mental health doing one-on-one support and casework at a non-profit. In my role as case worker I realized I was developing operational skills. Casework requires budget management, adherence to private and sensitive information, organizational skills, and great interpersonal skills. I found that I liked using those skills, and eventually, I chose to expand my experience in a different field, but with a focus on operations. The skills I’d developed in casework led me to an operational role with an advertising and branding agency.
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I buy books. Antiquated, I know.
I love the smell. I love scribbling in the margins and dog-earring pages. What I love most, though, is stepping back and looking at what I’ve collected. The obsessive-compulsive organizer in me is satisfied by the neat arrangement of rows; the varying heights, widths, and colors create a rhythm that satiates my desire for visual delight. Some people see my bookshelf and roll their eyes. “You still buy books?” Or worse, “You keep the books you’ve read?”
Following my colleague’s lead, I have a confession of my own to make. In a former life, I was a cheerleader. I cheered with the St. Ambrose Angels and the Brunswick High School Blue Devils. I spent my adolescence jumping and tumbling and flying in stunts, chanting and cheering and dancing to clips of “Work It” and “Come on Eileen.”
When I watch someone else work, I see all the clever and messy little ways they get from one place to another. Observing others approach their work has given me useful instruction and new techniques—both technical and soft skills—that I can take into my own work later.