Marla – General Office Support Worker

Home Career Profiles Marla – General Office Support Worker

AWIC interviewed different local professionals for an inside look into their work. You can learn more about General office support workers (NOC 1411 ) through a detailed Career Profile.

Marla Jones is a Resource and Information Officer with the Regional Employment Help Centre in Wawa.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Starting with a large coffee and showing up on time is key. Our office has a team of 6. I am reception and general office support for our office so I help anyone who calls in, or anyone who walks into the office, whether they have general questions, need to use a computer, looking at our job board, need help applying for Employment Insurance, setting up a My Service Canada account or a My CRA account. As reception, I explain our services to try to help generate clients. I also schedule new and return appointments for our Employment Coordinators.
I am constantly searching for jobs in our area (Wawa, Dubreuilville and White River) mostly on various websites. I source most jobs from our site on the employer websites, Indeed, Workopolis and employers often contact our office to post on their behalf. I post the jobs on our website, job board and our Facebook Page; which are all closely monitored for end dates. I keep busy with helping coworkers with resumes or cover letters whenever possible.

What was the education and training needed for your job? Any additional training for your current position?

For my position, I definitely required advanced Microsoft Word skills and researching skills. Additional skills required would be customer service skills and knowledge of programs and community support programs.

Why and when did you choose this career? What have you learned since you started?

I started my career in Customer Service, I moved on to Health Care Reception and from there to working for the Ontario Government as a Document Processor. I learned that I had a knack for relating and communicating with people; and building my Microsoft Office skills along the way. I chose this career because I feel that it is something I’m good at and there is such a variety of offices that I could work in.

What skills do you have that make you great at your job?

I am very personable and can make conversation with anyone. I usually can find something I can relate too in every conversation. This makes the person open up and it’s easier to help them. I love to learn and do research, I might not be great at everything, but I like to learn how to do new things, find shortcuts in software, make things work for me to make my job easier.

What is the biggest thing you have learned on the job?

Since I didn’t take an office administration course through a college, I feel that with all my years of experience I have gained the knowledge and skills I would have taken away from a structured course. I have learned a lot about the Employment Ontario programs that we offer and there is still so much more I have left to learn.

What is the best part of your job?

Helping people when they are in need. Supporting clients so they can achieve their goals or one step further in their career.

What is something challenging about your job?

In every job there are difficult situations that people are dealing with. Dealing with the negativity would be the most challenging thing about my job.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing the career?

Be ready for life long learning and upgrading your skills. Software is constantly changing and staying on top of the latest things would make you more employable.

How would you say COVID-19 has affected your day-today-work? (Job duties, commute, check-in process, etc.)

With Covid-19 our office was initially shut down and everyone was working from home. I was hired in January 2021, and was in the office everyday after that. The employment coordinators in the office would rotate day in/day out to try to help our clients as much as possible. Setting up protective barriers and wiping everything down between clients was new for us. We have computers for use for clients, so limiting the amount of people in the office was our priority.

It was difficult at times, no one wants to wear a mask. It’s hard for some people with barriers to communicate with a mask on. I had to adjust the way of communicating with some of my clients. At times, I had no choice but to remove my mask behind the plexiglass, social distanced of course, so that my client can read my lips because of hearing difficulties.

What has it been like to be an essential worker during a world-wide pandemic?

Being an essential worker I feel appreciated for being able to continuing to support people through the pandemic.

Have you experienced loss or personal struggles since the beginning of the pandemic? How have you and your co-workers coped with working through the shut-down?

I wasn’t overwhelmed with the quarantine situation for myself. We have a smaller community of around 3,000. With all the safety measures put in place by our employer, we all felt quite safe. I was concerned for my family and the struggle of not being able to see them as much as I could was difficult.

The shut-down was difficult on our team because we weren’t able to communicate in the same room. Zoom meetings weekly for updates didn’t feel like enough. Rotating through the office we weren’t all in the same place at once.

Could you share how being an essential worker during the pandemic has made this more personally fulfilling career?

I supported our community in crisis that made each day fulfilling. Coming to work is very rewarding for me; it didn’t make me feel as isolated during the lock down.

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