Back when the pandemic started in March of 2020, I had just found myself out of a job. The reasons don’t matter for this tale, but rest assured I was surprised and needed a new job – the sooner, the better. Fairly quickly I had an interview lined up but didn’t get that job. By that time jobs had started to dry up because companies were either closing due to the pandemic or were setting staff on furlough until they ramped back up. What was supposed to be a two-week shutdown to flatten the curve, turned into months. Still, though, I persisted.
A friend pointed me at a certain job search website and at a particular job. It looked interesting and I decided to apply. I was contacted about the job and provided a copy of the job description. They had some concerns because the title under which they listed the posting was not actually the work that the person would be doing.
The “company” is actually an Indian reservation and their jobs and job titles don’t necessarily align with the pre-existing selections available on job search websites. I read the job description with interest. Most of my experience up to this point had been in the field of executive assistant, but these folks wanted more of a project manager/coordinator. My friend convinced me to toss my hat into the ring and so I did. Due to Covid-19 lockdowns, it was a couple of months before I could actually have an interview. What a unique experience that was. I’d had plenty of interviews in my career, with some being solitary, and some with small panels. This interview was with a panel of six people, easily the largest one I’d ever faced.
Aside from the size of the panel, only one person was going to be asking the questions, which was fine with me. But what questions! This interview was like nothing I’d ever experienced in the past. I was prepared to answer the usual stuff like “why did you leave your last job”, “tell me about yourself”, or “how did you prepare for this interview”, but nope. Not one of the ‘usual’ questions was asked. Instead, they wanted to know how I would structure meeting minutes so that they would be approved by council. They asked a few situational questions and some that were designed to see where I fell ethically and with respect to confidentiality. Of course, they also wanted to know what my view were around natives, whereby I told them I was part native. That sparked a conversation about which group I was with. I explained my family history as far as the native side of my family. I was thrilled when a few days later I was offered the job. I went in, signed the paperwork, and started my crash course in learning all about the legalities of how matrimonial real property is managed on reserves when a spouse dies or a relationship breaks down.
The project I was hired to take on was to help this particular community create their own law governing matrimonial real property (think “family home”). There were challenges – some from individuals, some from the virus causing shutdowns or severely limiting how many people I could have at a meeting, and even my own health with needing cancer surgery. As the end of my 51-week contracted neared, a special exemption was made to hire me as a term employee for one year. Without this exemption I would have needed to leave the job at whatever stage it was at, take at least one week off, and then reapply to be hired again into the same job for another 51-week contract. Weird rules, but I can roll with it. Now the end of my one-year term is looming. My supervisor and HR both want to ensure I stay on. I’m pretty sure that chief and council want me to keep on as well since we have a meeting scheduled for a week after my contract is scheduled to end. Still, though, unforeseen and tragic events have caused delays in a decision being made or a contract or permanent position being offered as yet.
The good news is my project is moving along nicely, despite the challenges over the past almost two years. I believe we can see the successful conclusion ahead of us within the next several months.
The question I have now is “What happens next?” I really like the people here. The drive, while long at just over an hour, is full of fantastic scenery and so isn’t really a hardship. I think I’ve come to fit in really well – so much so that sometimes people forget I have only been here two short years and expect me to remember events that predate my employment. It’s kind of cute. But still…this week I will make sure all my files are in order. I will have everything as ready as can be. I won’t take my personal stuff from my desk or off the walls of the office yet. I have applied to another position available within the same office, so I’m hopeful for that. The problem is that things move slower than anticipated at times. I’ve heard my husband talk about “island time” and how things in Jamaica (for example) always move much slower – on island time. I’m convinced this is slower than that. Even so, I want to stay. I’m not sure I can go back to the frantic grind I used to function in. I know I don’t want to.