About 2 years ago, I was asked by my local Girl Scout council regional director if I would like to cover the regional office phones for a day while they all went to an all staff meeting at another location. I was happy to do this and even more happier when they said they would pay me for this. I believe I was asked because I was a volunteer leader in good standing. This filling in became more regular and soon I was asked to fill in for the office manager when she was on vacation or out sick. She was an older gal, pushing 70 and starting to make noises about retiring. Since my husband had starting making noises about me working more, I was more than happy to make myself available to the Girl Scouts and when they offered me a temp job last fall doing recruitment, I took it. This was for about 12 weeks and then I rolled back into covering the office manager for her vacation just before Christmas last year. In all I probably worked over 4 months for them all before this last bit, which was almost 2 months.
In April, the regional director called me and told me the office mgr was retiring and for a brief moment I thought she was going to ask me if I wanted the job! But no, she wanted to know if I could be the interim office manager while they posted the job publicly. I said of course. Then I said that I would like to apply for the position. She was silent for a few seconds, then she said, "but I thought you weren't looking for full time work. You understand this is full time." I told her that a couple years ago, full time was not what I would have wanted but circumstances change and I was more than able and happy to work full time. She then told me that I would have to step down from my roll as leader to my troops and any other involvement in our local service unit. That policy stated that staff could not be volunteers, that this was a "conflict of interest". This was something I had not considered and almost made me hesitate but I figured I could work something out. I later discovered that this was her policy not necessarily the policy followed by all at council. In hindsight, I think she was trying to give me a hint that I wasn't the person she envisioned in the position but I was very excited because I figured the job posting was just a formality and I was a shoe in. I'm such a sap.
So I came in a day before the gal retired, I took notes on what I knew to be gaps in my knowledge of the job and got ready to settle in. For almost 7 weeks I did the job I had hopes to be hired for. I audited the files more thoroughly than they had been done in years. I contacted over 200 volunteers to provide necessary paperwork that was outdated or missing. I cleaned file drawers and cleaned up the general area as there was 10 years of outdated materials. I went thru her computer files and deleted or updated files as needed. I taught myself how to use the council database, learning tricks and finding files to help the office run more smoothly. I fielded phone calls and covered for staff who seemed to drift on in whenever they felt like it, never keeping to the posted schedule they completed each week. Whatever I was asked to do, I did and when I had free time, I looked for ways to fill it.
After a couple of weeks, they posted the job and the applications came rolling in. There were over 150. The regional director and HR were overwhelmed and it took a while for them to sort thru and they came up with five people to interview. I was told I made the cut and would be interviewed. I thought my interview went well. I got to see all the other applicants as I greeted each one as they came in. But during the time this is going on, I was slowing losing my confidence that I was seriously being considered for this job. I heard from some of the area managers that the regional director told them she was hoping to hire someone who would want to move up into an area manager job eventually. That job pays about twice what the office manager gets and requires a college degree. Forget the fact that none of the other regional offices had ever promoted an office manager into this position. The RD knew I was not interested in an Area Manager position as I wasn't qualifed that that job. I started thinking about how taken back the RD had been when I told her I wanted the job. I was feeling less likely that I was going to hired. That my being so available and eager to work wasn't going to be the stepping stone I thought it was to land this job. I was starting to feel less like a stepping stone and more like a doormat. They went on to second interviews. It was me and 2 fresh faced gals with the ink still fresh on their college diplomas. They brought in the RD's boss from the main office and an office manager from another regional office to help with the interviews. My RD pulled me aside the day before and told me that her boss was an "all business" type of person and that I should be very serious and professional during the interview. So I was.
The next day, Tuesday, I was told that I did not get the job. My RD said the new gal would start on Thursday and that I could stay until the end of the week. I told her it would be better if I left on Wednesday. She seemed surprised at my reaction and then said, "oh, you're not in the middle of anything, right?" I had been doing a couple of things and told her I would leave notes on where I was for the new person. She told me that the decision to hire had not been hers to make completely that she was pressured by others. It was a long silent afternoon with everyone tip toeing around me.
On Wednesday, after a rough night, I went into the office. One of the area managers came in just before nine and I told her I couldn't stay. That it was just too upsetting for me. I was feeling pretty rejected. She told me that she and the other 2 area managers were pretty shocked that I wasn't hired. They felt that the RD maybe was wrong in thinking that the position would be a stepping stone to their own jobs. She told me that the RD was told by her boss to pick one of the two other gals who interviewed as that they were more dynamic in their interviews and that I had a bit too solemn and businesslike. So the RD telling me to be all business turned against me. Not just was I not the first choice, I wasn't the second choice, I was the biggest loser. This hurt.
I really don't think that the RD ever seriously considered me. That the last 2 years of me rearranging my life to cover the front desk at a moments notice was all she wanted from me. That to her I was just a volunteer that she could count on to fill in as needed and I don't think she wanted to lose that and hiring me would have left her without me to say, Jump? How high? I guess the saying, "nice guys finish last is true". I'm sure the new girl will be great, the job isn't rocket science.
I really thought I could add a lot to that job, that my years as a volunteer would have made me a better person for the position as I understand the people the office is trying to serve. But perhaps I'm wrong, that what I would have had to give up, the work I do with my girls, would have been too high a price to pay. Over and over we hear the words, "it's all about the girls". But being on the inside for a little while, showed me that sometimes, those at council forget that directive and they forget that the program can't be a success without the volunteers who work with the girls. So I'm back to being "Just a Volunteer" and it's a good place.
This will be my last post about this damn thing! I will restart my regular inane ramblings and try and resume my good humor! Maybe a couple of jello shots in the morning coffee will help!