I hate that word, receptionist. I hate sitting at the reception desk. (Granted my office only has two actual rooms, and one is used as a conference room, but still.) I hate that I look at the office plant, and the waiting room, and the couches and the complimentary magazines. I hate that when the phone rings I have to answer it. I hate that I am in charge of filing everything. I hate that I make copies for people. I hate that I have to fetch coffee when we have clients in the office. I hate feeling like a receptionist. And even more I hate being treated like a receptionist.
The title on my business card is Associate. Something you actually need a college degree for. I don’t mean to belittle receptionists but I would seriously rather work at a coffee shop than be a receptionist. The whole stereotype that comes with receptionist is something I truly loathe. The pretty girl who greets the clients and fetches the coffee and will never amount to anything but a receptionist. And I hate that people think that about me.
I should put all of this into perspective. I work at a start-up. There are 7 partners (including me) that work, own and run the company. We all have to sacrifice and do things that we wouldn’t normally choose to do like paying the bills, ordering business cards, working ungodly hours and deferring your paycheck because there isn’t any money left in the bank. So in other words, I am an associate/partner/founder but I am also the research assistant/receptionist/marketing department all rolled into one. So for now, until we really get some traction, I am stuck wearing the reception hat because I am the youngest (and the only woman) in my firm. I don’t even mind doing these menial tasks. What I do mind is how people treat me when they assume reception is all that I do.
Rewind to this morning which is what prompted this rant. Two of the partners of my firm are involved in another venture and decided to use our office to hold a meeting. When the clients arrived this morning (two men) they literally looked up for two seconds when I said “hi” and kept walking as if I didn’t exist. They looked right past me and shook hands of the two other partners of my firm and didn’t bother to get my name or even acknowledge my existence.
Granted I am not even involved in this other venture but it made me so angry. How chauvinistic and disrespectful of you. I wanted to scream “I’M A PARTNER AND FOUNDER OF THIS FIRM AND JUST BECAUSE I AM YOUNG AND A WOMAN YOU ASSUME THAT I DON’T MATTER. YOU ARE WALKING INTO MY OFFICE. SHOW SOME RESPECT.” But of course I didn’t. I sat there and smiled and took the high road and bitched about it on this blog.
The worst part is that this will happen to me again and again in the future. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if this happens to you, like it often does to me, don’t let it get you down. Don’t let it shake your confidence. I once heard this quote “A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her.” Use all of these experiences as motivation to achieve your goals and when people tell you that you can’t turn around and tell them “watch me”.