Review: "Save The Assistants" By Lilit Marcus
“Save the Assistants: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the Workplace,” published by Hyperion, is a guide for those who are currently assistants, thinking about becoming assistants, or those entering the interning world.
It aims to be a rallying cry for assistants everywhere to hang in there and think of the day when they can work their way up in their chosen industry and become bosses -- hopefully great ones that do not mistreat their subordinates.
This guide presents strategies for how to deal with many situations in the workplace and how to make an assistant experience more than just a matter of corporate survival and maybe even make it a memorable one … in a good way.
“Don’t just make coffee—make the best damn coffee anybody in the office has ever tasted. Because what better way to show off your skills than by kicking-ass at every single project you’re assigned, no matter its size?” Marcus writes.
The structure of the book makes it easy to read and flip between the well-labeled sections, all written in an interactive and conversational way. Readers can find quizzes at the end of most of the chapters, caricatures of different boss types, tips for making and keeping friends in the workplace, managing your life outside of your cubicle, keeping your sanity, and diagnosing when to quit your job.
These are interspersed with inset boxes (Buzzwords, tips or short anecdotes) and lists that add to the ease of navigation of the guidebook set-up.
Marcus makes the challenges and triumphs of assistant life into a universal struggle, since pretty much everyone starts out as some kind of low-level job in whatever industry they wish to work in.
After the short introduction, the book opens with the “Millennial Assistant Manifesto,” which addresses how older generations view the “Y” Generation or “Millenials” as an entitled (later referred to as the E-word) bunch of kids who act as if entry-level work is below them because of the degree they now have under their belt.
Marcus herself admits that “I was indignant: I went through four years of college for this?” She references celebrity examples of assistants and bosses in order to illustrate both good and bad examples of boss-and-assistant situations in a way that is at times humorous, but always instructive.
She really takes on the entire assistant culture that has evolved over the years, incorporating assistant-related movies and music she recommends along with strategies to deal with everyday stresses. In order to save your sanity and keep you from going “assistantal” (like “going postal”), the book's goal is to teach you ways to cover yourself if any kind of crisis arises, especially one surrounding problems with your boss or co-worker.
She suggests keeping a journal, forwarding important emails to your personal email address, or jotting down notes in case “your horrible boss or creepy co-worker moves you to take action,” you have a record to back up your case. This guide also teaches you how to network to find maybe a better job or a higher position and how to present yourself when making a request for a raise or promotion at your current job.
Marcus believes that “there’s no law saying you can’t simultaneously hate your job and want to do well at it: in fact, it’s a lot easier to be ambitious when you have work that backs up your ambition. So clean your desk, grab a cup of coffee (make that two—one for the boss and one for you), and do your part to help erase the E-word forever.”
Sound words for anyone who needs to stay strong through the trials of everyday office life in a low-rank position. A useful and humorous read for those in college doing internships, those who have just recently graduated, or those who are currently assistants themselves and wish to further their careers outside of assisting, Marcus’ guidebook can help them find ways not to go “assistantal” and maybe become the boss one day.