When I tell people that I am one of 11 children, people typically have the same remarks. Chief among them is incredulous disbelief "nooo", comparisons to animals "are you a rabbit?"(no I am not), comments about entertainment options "did your parents not have a TV?", knowing remarks about religion "Catholic family huh", the old "in this day and age?" and in many cases comments about my parents affection which I'd rather not bring attention to.
Yesterday I asked all my siblings (8 sisters and 2 brothers) what they liked about their jobs and what they found challenging. I've ordered them from oldest to youngest.
Gab – Managing Solicitor, Regional NSW.
What I enjoy- In managing people - I enjoy supporting new practitioners as they begin their professional lives, there is something very important about the people who are in the trenches with you for the first time. I enjoy supporting managers as they wrangle serious issues of policy and what that means about who we are as a community. In short, we change the world every day. In my forensic work - I am safe hands for those who are in desperate circumstances. Not everything is fixable, but everyone is treated with dignity and I do my best every day. The courage and humanity I bear witness to is simply amazing.
What's challenging: it's extremely tiring and when my children complain I wish to tell them to shut up because they don't know what a real problem is.
Ceal – Registered Nurse
Love about my job - it’s variable and dynamic. Lots of different tasks and interactions to do/have over the course of the day. I get to help people, and challenge myself to think in lots of areas - clinical, emotional and legal.
Most difficult - sometimes outcomes are sad, and it can be difficult to communicate effectively to patients and colleagues about what is happening (my own limitations form part of this difficulty). There is often not enough time to do things as thoroughly as I would like. Not enough money and recognition for the complexity of the work.
TJ- High School Teacher
I love the interactions with teenagers, teaching my subject area(English), helping students to gain confidence in themselves and helping students to develop their writing and communication skills.
The challenges are managing 25+ personalities simultaneously, dealing with parents' and students' unrealistic expectations, face to face teaching for hours and keeping every student engaged in learning.
Bernie- Senior Speech Pathologist
What I love about my job: It’s really diverse, and the things we focus on with patients really really matter. Talking! Eating! Imagine if you had trouble doing those things. Imagine if you couldn’t tell your own story, or if you stopped socialising because you were embarrassed when you choked on your food. There’s complexity to figuring out what is going on for a patient and there’s joy in empowering them as they improve. I get to travel as part of my work too, which lets me see beautiful sunsets like this:
What I find the most difficult: Lack of time. I’m the sole speech pathologist for 3 rural hospitals and a 110 bed aged care facility. I also see community outpatients and I don’t have any admin support in my role. So I need to do everything from requesting paper charts from medical records, booking cars and accommodation for outreach trips, making my own patient appointments, seeing the patient, organising follow up care and returning the charts to medical records before 4.30pm when they clock off!
Naomi- Registered Nurse
Things I love about my job include being an integral part of a dynamic team. Decisions can be life or death at times, and clinical acumen is an enormous and important part of how decisions are made. We are involved in people’s lives at a time of incredible emotional vulnerability, and that is a real privilege. Ethics and safety also play an important part in the job
Things I dislike... Shifts! Also the money is not amazing. Sometimes going to work can be emotionally exhausting, when you have been a part of a patients illness journey for years and then they die it does make you question why you have chosen to be a nurse.
Claire- Barrister, NSW Bar, Family Law
I enjoy learning new ways to make the art of argument and arrange evidence so is supports my client. I enjoy the humanity of people’s stories and helping them make things different.
I am challenged by the strain that goes with carrying the responsibility and the high stakes of operating at the point in the system where all else has failed.
Helena- Program Manager, Chase Associate Program, JPMorgan Chase
Favourite things: Being a trusted advisor to the business and associates, being in a position to shape not only individual careers of high potential MBA graduates but the HR strategy of the business.
Hardest parts: By nature the role deals with lots of moving parts and sensitive issues. Each of my stakeholders would have the iceberg effect, where what they can see me doing is only 20-30% of what I’m handling at any given time.
Mike- Solicitor, Boutique Family Law Firm
Like - achieving results for clients in circumstances in which there is another party working against you. Learning non legal strategies to fix legal problems.
Most difficult - managing client relationships and expectations for difficult and emotional clients. Accepting that there is never a smoking gun for your case, and attempting to anticipate the weakness of your strategies
Dom- Construction Methods Engineer, Future Generation Joint Venture
What I love about my job: Optimising construction solutions through methodology design. I also come home with a deep sense of satisfaction after being part of building something very special.
What I find most difficult: Working with a wide range of cultures and expectations means having to navigate implementing a technical solution through personal and procedural pathways.
Petie- Retail Assistant and full time student
What I like-meeting different people everyday and having brief interactions that almost always result in a funny story. There is a low level of responsibility of work, very easy to switch off and I never take work home with me. It's also fun to make friends at work and hang out while you work.
Things I don’t enjoy are the different shifts and no guarantees of a lot of hours. Also, some customers are very rude.
So there you have it. About as succinct as a professional wrap up a family of 11 can be.
For the record, yes, my parents have favourites, and yes, as the first boy after 6 girls, I am certainly one of the most undeserving favourites you'll find.