Forget what you’ve seen on TV, in the movies, or read in magazines. Receptionists, administrative and executive assistants, and other support functions are the heart and soul of a company. Sure, you will fax tons of paperwork, answer phones all day long, and file away company documentation, but that’s not all, folks. Here are five things they don’t tell you about becoming an assistant.
They Will Expect You To Know It All
Administrators are expected to have answers. As part of the support personnel, your job is to understand the ins and outs of the company, its mission and values, the person you directly support, and the nuances of other supervisors with whom you may come in contact on a daily basis. While it may not be explicitly written on your administrative job description, understanding certain corporate nuances will make you better at your job in the long run, so start studying, ask questions, take notes, and get ready to deliver when you’re called upon.
You Will Work Hard and Then Work Even Harder
Administrative professionals, specifically office managers and administrative assistants, but especially executive assistants, work hard. Really hard. And just when you think the day is over, something else comes up. In fact, many assistants follow their boss’s schedules, which could mean frequent 5AM wake up calls, late night meetings, and working during all kinds of random hours, particularly if the boss is in a different time zone. Unlike most other positions within an office, an assistant’s job is rarely 9-to-5, it’s as-early-as-you-can-get-here until as-late-as-we-need-you-to-stay.
All the World's a Stage
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges an administrative professional faces day to day is putting on a brave face for the world. Successful administrators do this day in and day out seamlessly, keeping up appearances and maintaining an aura of complete control and poise at all times, no matter what is going on inside or outside of the office. As an administrative assistant, receptionist, office manager, or executive assistant, you will often face challenges that are out of your comfort zone, deal with individuals who may “grind your gears,” or have to clean up messes that are seemingly un-clean-upable. Administrators are amazing problem solvers for this reason, and they are often relied upon to deal with confidential information, or handle sensitive matters with discretion.
You Will Constantly Work Beyond Your Job Description
Good administrative assistants perform the tasks required of them as per their job descriptions. Great administrative assistants are mind-readers, fortune tellers, sounding boards, baby sitters, psychologists, couriers, scribes, editors, designers, accountants, tailors, and life coaches. The truth is, being an administrative assistant is so much more than just faxing and filing documents. Admins morph into whatever role they need to be in order to make their boss, and, ultimately, the company successful.
Early in my career, I was in charge of overseeing logistics for a tradeshow in Las Vegas. I had arrived at 8PM, jet-lagged and starving, when it came to our attention that the company we had hired to assembly our booth simply did not have the manpower to complete it before the show. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on our 25,000 piece tradeshow booth. Hey, someone’s gotta do it!
It Will Be A Rewarding Experience
Being an administrative professional, no matter where you are on the totem pole—receptionist or EA—is one of the most rewarding experiences you could ever have in your career. There is no limit to the types of people you will meet on your journey, the skills you will acquire (both technical and soft skills), or the experiences you will have. There are so few positions that come with as many perks as administration has: expensed meals, travel opportunities, event planning opportunities, professional development, and humbling experiences like getting dry cleaning or going on a coffee run all nicely bundled up into one job you will never forget. Sure, you will work with difficult people, but you will also work with kind people. You will feel completely unappreciated and yet everyone will be grateful.
The best part? No two days are alike. You will never be bored as an administrative assistant, and you will never be hungry for more. Administrators simply do it all, know it all and have incredible professional opportunities for growth that are simply not offered elsewhere.
What are some of your rewarding experiences as an administrative professional? Let us know in the comments section below!
Don’t forget to submit your resume for consideration of new opportunities to firstname.lastname@example.org