Job Title: Dept Manager
Type of Company: I work for a company that supports the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. government.
Education: BA, Economics, Tufts University M.Ed, Education, St. Michael's College
Previous Experience: I began as a systems analyst for a large computer company and they then trained me as a programmer, information analyst and I/T team leader. I now manage a department of 13 employees made up of administrative and management analysts.
Job Tasks: As a department manager, I spend most of my time listening. You might think a manager is an expert and knows more than his or her employees but that is not true at all. I consider my employees the experts and my job is to make sure they focus on their work. Our main mission is to provide knowledge and technical support to the Dept of Homeland Security. In order to do that, we all have taken a number of practical computer classes that help us take lots of information or data and transform it into meaningful and sensible summary reports.
In addition, a manager spends a good portion of the time handling paperwork. For example, our employees need to fill out time sheets in different formats that go to three different companies or organizations. Each one must ensure that the hours reported are consistent, accurate and timely. It seems like such a trivial thing but very often someone's time sheet needs to be updated due to an error. I also approve time off from work and help employees prioritize their workload.
In addition, I've been given responsibility for designing a training system for the government and running queries and generating reports. As you can see, a typical day is spent doing lots of different tasks. Therefore, it is rarely boring.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is interacting with people. It is so cool meeting people who are totally different from me: different cultures, different attitudes, different ways of looking at something. Everyone can contribute in some way. The fun part is figuring out what you are passionate about and then letting you do your thing.
The worst part of being a manager is when someone breaks the rules and has to be disciplined or fired from their job. Also, letting people go when there is a business downturn can cause a lot of sleepless nights.
Job Tips: If you want to figure out a problem, the more diverse your team is, the better chance you have of figuring out a good answer. For example, if you like looking at the big picture and prefer not to get bogged down in a lot of detail, you may enjoy being a project leader who delegates to others. If you like to tackle a problem on your own and surround yourself with tons of spreadsheets and data, you may enjoy being an analyst.
Secondly, do you want to be successful and happy? The answer doesn't lie in how much money is stored in your bank account. Find something you love to do and success will find you. My garbage man didn't like to work for other people so he started his own company hauling trash in town. Today he owns one of the nicest houses in the area and owns a fleet of trucks.
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