Lilit Marcus of Save the Assistants interviewed Megan Hustad, author of How to Be Useful: A Beginner's Guide to Not Hating Work.
The first exchanges of the Q & A:
STA: How long were you an assistant?Read the complete interview.
MH: I was an editorial assistant at Vintage Books (and the Knopf Group, more generally) for two plus years. No promotion prospects there, so I made a lateral move to another company, where I toiled as an “assistant editor” for another year plus before becoming full editor.
STA: What mistakes do you see assistants make?
MH: A lot of assistants know, deep down, that they’re the hamsters of the organization. By which I mean, management’s attitude is often “Well, if this one doesn’t work out, or dies — no worries. We’ll get another one and no one will know the difference.” Assistants are eminently replaceable. Say I walked off the Vintage job during my lunch hour — they could have filled my spot with someone equally capable, if not more so, by the end of the day.
The problem for assistants then becomes: How to deal with this cold, hard fact? When people are lined up around the block for your job? That’s where the big mistakes come in. It’s a mistake to try to gain advantage by making sure your superiors feel how unique and brilliant you are. Trying to dazzle the boss…just rarely works out well.
Read an excerpt from How to Be Useful, and learn more about the book and author at Megan Hustad's website.
Writers Read: Megan Hustad.