Here is a good question, how to turn an assistant into a career EA. I’m not going to lie. I became an assistant because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Growing up I’d dreamed of becoming everything from a spy to an air hostess but those dreams faded once I left University and hit the big wall of reality that is paying bills and funding your social life. Looking back over the last 10 years and having worked my way up from a Team Administrator to an Executive Assistant I wouldn’t change my decision for the world (not even the world of espionage!)
I must admit something else to you though, I haven’t always been in love with my profession. For a long time I felt like I was just an assistant who just got on with the job. I knew I could do more and I really wanted to but a lack of confidence in my role prevented me from stepping forward. I didn’t have the belief in my job title or really in myself to speak up, I felt my colleagues wouldn’t listen to the girl who ‘was just the assistant’ and so I did the work to the best of my abilities but I didn’t strive for more.
My confidence crisis came to a head in the unlikeliest of places – I was applying for a new assistant role. During one particular interview with the owner of a hedge fund, I was discussing my CV when he abruptly said “do you realise how many times you’ve said that you are just this and just that? Talking to you I know you could do this job standing on your head, but I’m not going to hire you because you don’t think very much of yourself’’.
I walked away from that interview shocked and angry that a complete stranger had spotted my weakness, but at the same time, I knew that if it were that obvious, I would have to change my perceptions of myself and my profession. So I did, and this is how I turned from thinking I was just the assistant to becoming a career driven Executive Assistant!
I went through my employment history with a fine tooth comb and came to realise that I could do a hundred different jobs because of the experiences I had gained working as an assistant. I had sat in meetings with Directors and Chairman of companies and picked up numerous business skills that many of my colleagues didn’t possess. I had advanced IT skills, I could build websites, and I could write the marketing material for that website while organising the launch event! I could set my mind to anything if I just had the confidence to push myself forward.
The confidence and belief in myself didn’t come overnight. I went on a lot of training courses, read and listened to some other EAs that had done incredibly well for themselves and I eventually started to think that I could follow in their footsteps. Getting involved in social media, joining a few associations for assistants and networking via events and also LinkedIn groups all helped boost my confidence and changed my mindset. You can read more on confidence here.
Love what you do
I realised that I liked my job, a lot! I didn’t want to do anything else because no day is the same! The work I am involved in is diverse, creative, demanding, fast-paced and most importantly never dull! Once you start to like your job and develop a passion for it the determination to speak up for yourself and your opinion is easier to do because you care about your work.
Big decision making
The people I’ve worked with are highly educated, at the top of their career, and I help them make the big decisions that steer the company forward. Not many people can say that! Also, you are trusted by senior people in the company; they wouldn’t have placed their trust in you unless they believed in your skills – again how many of your colleagues can say that!
So, in the end, I made a vow to myself that I would always push myself forward and would no longer be ‘just the assistant‘ I would be THE assistant. I’m now an Executive Assistant confident in myself and my abilities, and I thank that hedge fund manager every day for making we realise the only thing stopping me was myself!
Are you a new Assistant?
Our eBook, ‘Starting out as a New Assistant‘, is designed to help you navigate the first few months of your new role. Here you will find everything you need for the initial first meeting with your Executive. You will also find articles on how to navigate the tricky world of working with the Executive Team, building rapport with your new Executive and advice on how you can work effectively with a boss who has never had an Assistant before.