I WAS on a job hunt for a few months when I moved back to Kuala Lumpur. I was clueless about my life direction — which career I should work towards or which company I wanted be a part of.
So I applied everywhere! I even had a spreadsheet tracking the jobs I submitted applications for — over 30 in total!
I applied for a variety of random jobs all over the professional spectrum: Media Prima, Shell, AirAsia, Reebonz, The Islamic Arts Museum, Taylor’s College, McKinsey & Company, CIMB, Shell, Khazanah Nasional and even Ikea.
No one wanted me. Not even Ikea!
I was a bit stressed out about finding a job as soon as possible and my bank account was losing a couple of digits.
I was frustrated and it felt like I was knocking on doors that no one wanted to open for me.
“I’m right here!”, I felt like screaming to them. I am what you’re looking for! I can be what you want me to be, I’m a fast learner and I’m very organised (I made a job-hunt spreadsheet for god’s sake. It was colour coded too!)
I complained to my parents and Ashraf constantly about how I felt Malaysia was not the place for me.
Perhaps I should just go back to Ottawa, Canada, where I knew there were opportunities waiting for me.
I was worried about not finding work friends as awesome as my previous colleagues and would never have a boss as amazing as my last.
Then one day, I scrolled through my Instagram explore page and saw a job posting. It was by a person who had a tonne of followers, posted nice OOTDs (Outfit Of The Day) and owned an online shopping site.
She was looking for a personal assistant. Her caption was intriguing and it made me laugh. Oh, what the heck, what’s another rejection? I sent in my resume and completely forgot about it.
A couple of weeks later, I was having lunch with Ashraf at the Suria KLCC foodcourt and got a call from an unknown number. Maybe it was Ikea calling me!
It turned out to be someone at FashionValet calling to set up an interview for the PA job I applied for.
After an initial meeting, I went for my final interview with the girlboss on a Monday morning (I’m saving that encounter for a whole different article!). At end of it, they said they would call me in a few weeks. They called me the next morning and asked me to come in right away #nochill.
Ten minutes after showing up to my first day of work, I was asked to attend a meeting with producers who wanted to discuss a potential reality show about my new girlboss that I was most likely going to be on.
“Okay”, I thought, “this is not going to be a normal job.”
I didn’t know any personal assistants when I first started at FashionValet, so I didn’t know how to be one.
What exactly will I have to do? Is this going to be typical 9 to 5? How much of The Devil Wears Prada is this job going to be? I decided to just go with the flow and use my common sense.
I mean, how hard would it be to assist someone, right? There is no rulebook and no set guidelines. I quickly learnt that my job is whatever my girlboss and I make it to be.
I definitely experienced many learning curves because I was basically taking it day by day without any game plan about how to best navigate this new career.
I was not only learning about a new company and its culture, I was having to learn the A to Z, the inside outs and the workings of a complete stranger. Everything from her family to her McDonalds’ order (McChicken, plain and Iced Milo), to her fashion preferences (tone on tone, highest heels).
GETTING ALONG WITH GIRLBOSS
There were also nerves about how I was going to get along with girlboss.
Were we strictly going to have a work-only relationship? Will she like me? Will I like her? How long is this going to last? I was constantly worried about going in to work every day, scared that I was going to make a mistake and nervous about not fitting the mould of what an assistant should be.
But every day I got less shy and more vocal around girlboss, I became braver to ask my work-friends questions about the company and how it ran, and finally felt like I was settling into the position and into my relationship with girlboss. I started understanding terms like SKU, 3PLs and USP! I could also rattle on all her dietary requirements.
It’s been almost two years since I joined FashionValet (can you believe it!?) I constantly reflect on this thrilling rollercoaster ride and how I’ve gained new perspective and shopping bags full of experience. If anything, these two years have taught me to stop complaining about life’s trials and tribulations - there is a reason for everything. There is a reason why I was rejected by those big companies - it was so I could end up at the right one.
There is a reason why we go through easy, hard and in-between things in life. Happiness and heartbreak happen to make us stronger, to teach us lessons and to prepare us for things we never even saw coming.
I know my official title is ‘personal assistant’ - but in truth, I am anything and everything. I am a life coach, driver, baby sitter, travel agent, bodyguard, stylist, banker, nutritionist, lecturer (she doesn't like this one!), photographer, bag lady, party planner, social media executive, web designer, florist, PR rep, nurse, history teacher, finance manager, camerawoman, personal shopper, walking schedule, counsellor.
I am what she needs in that moment. We are together almost every second of the day, weekdays and weekends!
I cannot not text her. I can read her like a book and always know what she wants at Starbucks even before I ask her.
I would have never thought that I could add all these titles and skills to my resume, I would sound so impressive. I’m sure Ikea would call me for at least one interview #sorrytoolate. But girlboss doesn't have to worry - my resume days are over. The spreadsheet is closed.
As assistant to fashion icon Vivy Yusof, journalism graduate Iman Azman finds herself thrown deep into the fashion world, a universe once foreign to her. Here she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like having a front row seat in the fashion industry. Follow her journey on www.instagram.com/iman_azman/