No I’m Not the Receptionist. Musings of a CEO Stuck at the Reception Desk.


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”.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Amanda says:

    Sometimes I feel a lot of men do this to women, whether you’re a receptionist or CEO!

    1. Very true. It almost doesn’t matter what your job title is, men still tend to treat you the same way!

  2. LobbyGoddess says:

    Some of us receptionists aren’t necessarily the 26 year old pretty girl. Many of us are over 50, we’re grandparents, we earned our degrees, and have had the “exciting and interesting” jobs and are now quite happy to have the front row seat to watch it go by and occasionally answer the phone and greet customers….sans the headaches CEOs and managers have to put up with. We like coming in, doing our thing and going home. We like the security of a check every two weeks, paid vacations and appreciate what benefits we do have. Unambious? perhaps. but hey at least I have a job which is a helluva lot more than I can say for a lot of people (including ex-baristas.)

  3. Receptionist and Proud says:

    Well, first of all there is nothing wrong with being a receptionist. It’s good honest work and as a receptionist I don’t appreciate people having snobby attitudes about the work I happen to enjoy. Next, if you don’t want to do this work then you need to be assertive and ask for other work or go find a job someplace else. Complaining and being a martyr never solved anything. There’s plenty of people, male and female, alike who’d love to have a job and would have no problem taking your place. So deep six the attitude and get over yourself.

    1. You have to understand that when I wrote this post I was a 22 year old fresh out of college. At the time I think I was more upset about the situation I was in (being put down by men) rather than the actual job I was doing. Since then I have humbled and matured a great deal. You’re absolutely right, there is nothing wrong with being a receptionist. At my current company we would not be able to function without the receptionist we have.

  4. Sarah says:

    Wow! So good. Really needed to read this! I’m 30 and I’m still treated like a receptionist even though it’s not my job role. Yes the place I work at only has 8 people and we don’t have a designated receptionist but come on! Just because I’m a woman and young doesn’t mean that I’m the one who has to answer the phone or make people tea/coffee. The hard thing is that it’s perpetuated by woman management too. The people who should understand should say something…or at least ask one of the guys to answer the phone/get tea for meetings. I like the comment from Receptionist and Proud because it’s true – if you don’t like it get out. Which after a year of doing this…I’m going to do exactly that. Get out and find something that makes me feel like the experienced professional that I am!

  5. Moss says:

    Worked as a legal assistant with a plaintiff firm. After an argument about making me a 1099 employee but not allowing me to telecommute, pick my own hours (you know, the stuff that 1099s get to do) I left. If I’m set to the same rules that the hourly employees are then I’m not a contract employee.

    Since then, every job offered to me is receptionist but titled as an administrative assistant.

    My last job I rarely, and I emphasise rarely, answered phones. It’s not what I went to school for nor am I interested in doing it for 8-10 hours a day over and over. Sensitive client information that needs to be handled, discovery, efiling with the western district, briefs, client follow up for specific information, I’m your man. 100+ calls a day, multi switch line call center style work, and doing stupid stuff like looking up books or getting directions to the new restaurant that opened for the boss…..NO.

  6. Erythrocyte5321 says:

    Hey. . . I’m dealing with the same situation that you dealt with, except it’s difficult to pinpoint whether I’m treated this way because of sexism. However, I only have a couple of weeks before my contract is up, soI keep telling myself to suck it up.

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