Q. I graduated last year with a bachelor of architecture. A few months ago, I got a job with an engineering firm. I like my job but the problem is that I keep being assigned roles and responsibilities that were not stipulated in my offer letter. I feel like they are taking advantage me. What should I do?
At the beginning of your career journey, it is normal to be assigned roles and responsibilities that seem like they are not part of your job description. The entry level job is more of an opportunity to learn, rather than to specialise. The objective is to prepare you for a wholesome career, so you will find yourself running errands that you might consider irrelevant.
Typically, small firms may not have resources for all the departments, hence there is an expectation for the employees to take up multiple responsibilities, however, even large organisations may need to “stretch”, their employees due to resource constraints.
The offer letter describes the role, however, the job description usually has the responsibilities outlined more specifically. No professional at whatever level in their career has a fixed job description, more often than not there is always a disclaimer that includes, ‘any other responsibilities as may be assigned to you from time to time’.
I encourage you to have an open mind and a learning predisposition towards all roles and duties allocated to you as long as you don’t get burnout. You will use these different experiences to craft your career path, which is dependent on your experience and exposure.
You must understand that staying on the job is not determined by your professional qualifications only, but also your ability to adapt to the challenges of the modern workplace, for example, 20 years ago, most professionals did not consider computer literacy a relevant skill for any job except for secretaries, today however, the ability to use a computer and type reports is a prerequisite for any professional.
It is unlikely for your employer to hire a highly qualified professional like yourself and use your skills for irrelevant roles. You should be wary about the risk of being a straitjacketed professional unless you have no ambitions to develop in your career to management level. You are probably aware that many people started as expert professionals, but in their career progression they ended up in leadership roles.
Their competitive advantage in getting to these leadership roles was largely attributed to the widening the scope of their responsibilities earlier on in their careers. Consider seeking a mentor who will guide you on how to balance between competing responsibilities and equip you with coping mechanisms for your survival.