My Shiny New Title

16 Apr

I’ve spent the last 45 minutes or so updating my brand-new, barely-out-of-the-box job title on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve got all my basic employment and education info up-to-date, including past job descriptions and some random, mostly irrelevant skills, and under my name, it now reads, “General Manager.” I’m pretty stoked about it.

Now, I’ve come to this question:


My objectives? Great. Here ya go: To hire a team of amazing people. To form healthy, positive relationships with our new clients. To not totally mess up this whole managing-people thing. Oh yeah, and to make this new business that largely rests on my shoulders work.

My objectives are pretty clear. But a summary of myself? That’s tough.

Here goes.

My name is Rachel Rowan. I turned 23 two weeks ago to the day. I graduated from the University of Florida last year with a B.S. in journalism — a fact that still makes me giggle and then quietly freak out a little when I think about it too hard. I work for a residential and commercial cleaning company called Student Maid. I’ve worked for this company since the summer before my junior year of college (that’s almost two years, for those keeping score at home). I was hired as what we call a “move-out” employee, meaning I was one of a couple hundred students who decided that deep-cleaning empty student apartments in the middle of a Gainesville summer was as good a way to make money in a recession as any. I’m now in charge of opening Student Maid’s very first branch in my hometown, of all places, and making sure I don’t do anything to drastically diminish the stellar reputation of the company’s home base in Gainesville.

“nbd,” as the kids say. (“No big deal” to the outsiders of the social media vernacular.)

I’m totally on board with this new venture. I have been since the beginning, and I feel generally good about the direction it’s headed. We (the Gainesville team) have made a running start at the uphill battle of launching a new branch, and we seem to be making promising headway.

It’s just, y’know. I’m a journalism major. A grammar nerd who gets her jollies from correcting abysmal syntax and then going out of her way to destroy every rule she’s come to protect at will (see: this paragraph). I’m not driven by the same things as goal-oriented, business-savvy people are. I like words and stuff.

But in a few days, I’ll have business cards with my name on them followed by “General Manager.” Business cards. Real ones. With a logo and phone number and email address that’s just

That’s some real-world grownup shit, right there.

The fact that I’ve known this was going to happen for at least six months hasn’t really helped make any of it seem real to me. It’s only recently hit me that I’m moving back to my hometown, not to my parents’ house as an out-of-work college grad with a relatively useless degree as I’d always expected I might, but to my own place as a grownup with a salary and the future of a whole company in my hands.

No pressure.

Student Maid’s owner, Kristen, asked me today if I’m nervous about it all. Hell yeah, I’m nervous. I’d be an idiot not to be. I’ll be responsible for the success of a whole business, even though I have little to no personal business experience except what I’ve seen and done in the last six months.

I’m nervous, but not about everything. I feel good about my ability to relate to people and get to know them first as people and second as employees. I’m aware of my weaknesses and the things in my personality I need to work on (I’m too nice, too passive, too laid-back about a lot of things. The best advice I’ve been given recently is, “Not everyone has to be your friend,” and I intend to keep that at the back of my head when I know people have asked too much of me.). I know that one of the hardest parts of starting a business is building a client base, but we’re lucky enough to have a good head start on that. I feel good about it; I do.

I’m nervous about the technical things. What if I miss an important deadline? What if I misplace a receipt? What if I ignorantly mislead an employee and it causes an HR nightmare that’s totally my fault? What if I screw up on the things I’m supposed to be really good at (cleaning, quality checking, spelin wurdz corectly (see what I did there?)) and it makes not only me but the company and its employees look really, really stupid?

Hell yeah, I’m nervous.

But I know that I’ve got to take these things as they come, and I’ve got to meet the challenges as they arise. When I contemplated getting a minor in business as a college freshman, I never thought I’d be in the position I am now (which, incidentally, is a young businessperson who wishes she’d followed that whim to minor in something useful instead of anthropology). But I’m here, and it’s happening, and I’m doing it, and if I screw up, I’m gonna deal with it. If I screw up, it means I have to figure out how to fix it, and if I can figure out the fix on my own, I’ll feel that much more valuable.

(This is beginning to sound like a pep talk to myself. But it kinda is.)

So here’s my summary, LinkedIn, if you and my “connections” must know:

My name is Rachel. I’m 23. I’ve been given the opportunity to do something completely outside my zone of expertise and comfort, but I’m building the framework for expanding that zone at every chance I get, so that someday soon, I can say, “Wow, look what I did. That’s cool.”


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