I’ve been an EA for quite some time now, in fact I started working in 2003 so it has been a decade. Most of that time has been spent figuring out how to look as youthful as I did at 21, making terrible decisions with fashion, money and well men but also making my way along the career path that has led me to being an EA in Barcelona.

My career path looks something like this:

Picking up skills along the EA career path

Like most EAs I started out at a very junior level, working as a Team Administrator at Deloitte, I did have a degree and had worked while at university so I had some experience which probably helped me land the role. It was a good first job but it was junior, didn’t pay much and required quite a long commute, I left quickly and went on to work as an Administrator at an Association. The role also had some PA tasks but was mainly admin. I worked hard at that job and was rewarded with a promotion to Account Manager in 2006, yay! The Account Manager role was a little side step along my career path but required the same skills I would need in my next role as a PA and Administrative Manager. From PA it was a hop and a skip to an EA which I have been for quite some time but am also now a Marketing Manager too.

I bet most of you have similar career paths or are as I write making your way with the aim to be an Executive Assistant in the future. The skills you pick up along the assistant career path are invaluable and I for one would not be able to do the job I do today if I hadn’t started as a Team Administrator back in 2003. Sometimes it is easy to forget what we learn over the years so lets have a little reminder of the skills we have picked up at various stages of our careers:

Administrator:

  • Improving computer skills from intermediary to advanced 
  • Speaking to clients and customers in a professional and helpful manner
  • Dressing professionally
  • Working to deadlines and for a number of people
  • Gaining awareness of a business environment
  • Getting to know lots of people including senior members of staff
  • Socialising with colleagues and still being professional
  • Understanding basic office procedures
  • Learning how to use and fix a variety of office equipment
  • Building a reputation as a hard worker
  • Learning as you go

Receptionist:

  • Meeting and greeting important clients 
  • Looking happy and cheerful at all times (even if you are not)
  • Learning to multi-task
  • Speaking with confidence on the phone and forwarding calls
  • Booking meetings and meeting rooms
  • Arranging catering and dealing with external suppliers
  • Keeping a visible desk area clean and with a professional appearance
  • Sorting and distributing post
  • Screening calls on behalf of other colleagues
  • Meeting lots of senior people and acting accordingly
  • Remaining self motivated when working solo

Junior PA:

  • Booking travel and hotels for colleagues 
  • Getting to grips with calendar and email management
  • Helping with projects
  • Beginning to show proactivity and working with some autonomy
  • Gaining confidence when addressing board level Directors
  • Improving written communication and writing on behalf of others
  • Noticing smaller details and becoming more accurate
  • Establishing and maintaining filing systems
  • Escalating issues when appropriate
  • Establishing working relationships across departments and with team members
  • Taking minutes, writing agendas and attending meetings

Just think how many of these skills we as Executive Assistants still use today! As we move forward along our own career paths it is always worth taking a little look back to see how far we’ve come and what we have picked up along the way!

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3 comments

  • Debra Davies August 6, 2013   Reply →

    Thank you for publishing this information, as it will prove useful ot me in the future when I am applying for job vacancies. It will give me ideas as to what skills to name. There are some there that I would not have thought of.

    Regards
    Debra

  • Silvina August 6, 2013   Reply →

    I like this idea of reminding what we have learned in our previous jobs/positions. I’ll do it!

  • Anonymous August 29, 2013   Reply →

    very good article. Please what training would you advise a new Executive assistant to go for? I am very new on the job, started last month. i have never worked as a PA.

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