After graduating from college, I was assigned to work at the Ministry of Culture. This suited me to a T. The office for Foreign Cultural Relations was a walking distance from my house, and a walking distance from the club. So I joined the Ministry in the most junior position, one of the grunts. But it does not work like that. I was extremely new, no experience whatsoever but I was related to the Under Secretary of State who headed that Department, so automatically I was given privileges denied others. For the first year of my employment all I was asked to do was sign in and out! I got so bored I used to play hooky and spend the hours from 9 am to 1.30 pm at the club. This was particularly enjoyable in summer. But this could not last. After about a year they discovered that I could actually speak and write proper English, and that was the end of my sabbatical.
I was transferred to the a public Relations Department and was trotted out every time we had my foreign visitors. I was assigned to accompany the Ministry’s guests wherever they went and act as liaison between them and Egypt as a whole. It was a lot of fun and I got to meet many dignitaries from all over the cultural world. In the process I attended so many different shows, exhibitions, films, lectures and visiting museums, it was like traveling the world of culture while staying put.
After two years of working in PR, there arose a strong need for my translation skills, so was promoted to the Department of Cultural Agreements. This was pure office work, no gallivanting all over Egypt or meeting all sorts of interesting people. But the work itself was very interesting and challenging as I had to translate into English the Cultural Agreements proposed by the Ministry to individual counties. This way I got to thoroughly know what each agreement specified with the different countries. This knowledge helped me a great deal when later in my career with the Ministry I was promoted to Office Manager to the Under Secretary.
After a two year stint in the Cultural Agreements Department, I was again promoted to the staff of the General Manager. There were three of us there, and it was my lot to take care of all foreign correspondence and meet and greet all foreign visitors. It wasn’t a very hectic kind of job, and not at all challenging. I started getting bored so I took permission and started some other part-time jobs. I started by teaching two classes at my old school, two hours before going to the Ministry, and two hours after leaving the a ministry. It was a good thing that the school was a walking distance from the Ministry. Then I was asked by one of my professors at college if I would be willing to teach a couple of classes of English to students of Media. The classes were evening classes, so I agreed. Then a friend asked me if I could help a business acquaintance of his a couple of evenings a week by translating his business correspondence, and I agreed. By the end of two years I was carrying one full time and three part time jobs.
In the meantime the General Manager was promoted to Under Secretary of State, reporting in to the First Under Secretary. Also in the meantime the other two girls in the Office had left, one because she got divorced and quit, the other wanted to try another job. That left me alone there, so I was doing the full load, which really wasn’t much. All it needed was proper organization, then it went like clockwork.
Nothing lasts. A few months later my boss was transferred to take up the position of Cultural Attaché to one of our Embassies. This left me literally holding down the office. No matter how many times I asked when a new Under Secretary will be appointed, I was never given a straight answer. Finally the First Under Secretary was fed up with my nagging for a new boss, he finally came out and said I was doing an excellent job of it and when I needed authority to go to him for the requisite signatures. I was furious. Not even the lure of a promotion or even acknowledgement of the job I was doing.
It was then I decided on a career move. What was the use of having four different jobs and running around like a headless chicken, when I can qualify for one real full time job and get paid even more than what I was making then. So I decided to take a course that would qualify me for the position of Executive Secretary.
Breaking the news to the First Under Secretary was not easy. He deeply resented the fact that I would be leaving and that he would have to appoint someone new. He made my life miserable that last month, and gave me a very difficult time trying to complete all the red tape of resigning from a government position. But finally, I was free to start my Secretarial course at the Division of Public Service at the American University.
To be continued …ok