The modern-day misconception is that when a person starts working in an administrative role (a.k.a., an assistant), it’s just a job, a stepping stone to better positions, or for the undereducated, or even uneducated. Often you’ll hear people say things like, “Oh, she’s just a secretary.” I’m here to dispel that myth. It is so far from the truth! I am living proof that it’s a fulfilling, legitimate career choice and is not just a job.
DEFINITION: An administrative professional is anyone working in an office environment that is supporting an executive(s), department(s) and/or region(s).
Being an administrative professional is a profession; a chosen career path by many. It can be a fulfilling and rewarding profession at that. With dedication, a can-do attitude and a thirst for constant learning and improvement, someone can most definitely make it a career. If you have a servant’s nature and heart and enjoy working with a diverse group of people, from executives to mid-level managers, to the “worker bees,” and with clients or customers, then you will undoubtedly fit right into the role of an administrative professional. Administration provides variety. If you can’t stand mundane tasks or repetitiveness, this is a great option for a career! Although not touted as such, it is a position with much growth potential. You do not need a college degree to be successful (this appeals to many people). All you need to do is find a nurturing “home” within a company that will encourage you to continue to better yourself and develop your position into what you, and they, would benefit from the most. I will also tell you that there is a huge “tribe” (a rather old term with a newer meaning these days on the internet - “Groups of people subconsciously forming together with a common interest”) of administrative professionals congregating in the world, providing constant support and camaraderie. Invaluable is the word I like to use when describing administrative support professionals. They add so much value when partnering with an executive, a company, or a client, by contributing their hardcore skills acquired by a thirst for knowledge and sincere desire to help.
What would also help someone who’s considering administration as a career, is to know some of the resources and communities that are behind you. They exist to help you learn, grow and succeed. Here are a few that immediately come to mind: ASAP (American Society of Administrative Professionals), IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals), The Admin Awards, Tips for Assistants, LinkedIn and Facebook groups, IVAA (International Virtual Assistants Association) and Office Ninjas. There are multitudes of others! Administrative professionals are supportive, willing to mentor, toss around ideas, and share their knowledge. They love the feeling of accomplishment they get from helping others (it’s often their number one personality trait)!
Administrative professionals aren’t “just secretaries” anymore. They are known as and work as, project managers, office managers, social media managers, marketers, event planners, virtual assistants and so on. The change and evolution of the administrative role has far surpassed the old definition of it, at least in my early years. Back then, all we did was take minutes and arrange travel and meetings, or answer phones. There are soft-titles (fun ones) too that I’ve had over the years such as “ninja” and “rockstar.”
To fully succeed in this career, one must always be learning. Keep learning new tech, learning new ways to do things and being open to change. Set yourself up with clear goals and strive to meet them. Things like getting promotions from an administrative assistant (AA) position to an executive assistant (EA) position or to an office manager. A goal to become a supervisor of other admins in your office. Goals to obtain certifications like PACE (Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence) or CAP (Certified Administrative Professional) can help you elevate your career and help you stand out from the pack when seeking a new position. There are other niche certifications too, like a certified digital marketer or certified meeting planner! The sky’s the limit and educating yourself is key. Find a mentor. Become a mentor. Become, like me, an advocate for the profession. Join groups and associations (as mentioned previously). You’ll see that if you practice these things, you’ll become indispensable. You’ll be happy knowing what an important team member you are and how much you are helping your executive (or company/client) succeed, making them look good, and you’ll feel truly valued.
As my career is rounding the corner to the finish line (well, still probably 15 years to go), I am very content in my career choice to have been an administrative professional. I am prideful that I made it my career and it wasn’t just a job. I was recognized and rewarded for my efforts and accomplishments. I felt truly valued by my long-time employers. So much so that it has empowered me to help others that are up and coming in the field. I have become a mentor and an advocate of all things administrative. Daily I find myself educating people on the art of delegation. I am participating on advisory boards, networking with female entrepreneurs, partnering with business professionals, helping to create and elevate administrative professionals, all the while appreciating the ever-changing role. Administrative professionals, bottom line, are trusted business partners. And that is something that garners much respect.
Bonnie C. Schutz is a career administrative professional with 28 years in the field and the past 19 as an EA to C-level executives. With the wealth of knowledge she’s obtained over the years and skills she’s acquired as a partner to her executives, and even as a silent observer, a year and a half ago she left corporate America to round out her career working for herself and continuing to help others. She now owns and operates an administrative recruiting agency, Tandem Resource Solutions, and also manages a team of 20+ virtual assistants (VAs). She actively participates on administrative boards and is very passionate about the profession.
Company Page: www.tandemresourcesolutions.com