Day Nine: 12 Days of Real Careers

It’s Day Nine of this series, in which I’m bringing you excerpts from some more of my Real Careers interviews.

If you’re wanting to put this year to rest with some thoughtful perspectives on the career, check out all 12 days in this series.

Today, we’re looking at more Real Careers interview excerpts from around the globe. Here we go!

Don’t take yourself so seriously

Nicole Blanchettehails from Fort St. John, Canada, and now lives in Edmonton. What advice would have been helpful in the early days of her career? “Don’t take yourself so seriously, it’s not as bad as it may seem … and take the time to build relationships / networks.”

In her interview, Nicole highlighted the importance of focused development. “Education and professional development have played a critical role in where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. Lifelong learning is definitely at the top of my priority list.”

Proactively prepare for performance reviews

Craig Bryson was born in Buluwayo, Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. He now lives in Central London. I asked Craig for his most effective time management strategy. His response? “I use a spreadsheet, divided in four segments – Extremely Urgent, Urgent, Less Urgent, and Not Urgent. Then, the deadline dates to help me stick to my time.”

Craig also identified strategies to promote career growth. “Record and monitor your work, so that when you have your performance appraisals (360), you can easily confirm what you do from day to day. There are a lot of free online courses that you can take to better yourself,  and this will show how you’re productive, enthusiastic and willing to give your all.”

Increasingly, we will need to be familiar with data security practices and procedures and think in a security conscious manner

Amy Marsden is from the North West of England, but made a move to London before her recent leap to New Zealand. I asked Amy to discuss the pace of change in this career. Her thoughts? “Change is certainly fast and furious in the admin. world. Technology is constantly changing, new features are added to existing programs, and we are expected to not only keep up, but also use technology in innovative ways. I try to embrace change, and never fear something new. The best way to learn is to learn by doing, and as such I tackle new software head on.”

Amy also offered pragmatic advice for those who seek advancement. “Seek out all the free resources you have within the PA/EA community: magazines, forums, Twitter, etc. Start picking up extra work, get involved in projects, or act as proactively as possible, before putting together a business case for taking on more work or increased responsibility. Demonstrate where you can add value before you ask for the recognition formally.”

Create a network of like-minded, career driven, and supportive individuals

Catherine Marshall is from Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in Marathon, Wisconsin in the USA.  She discussed the importance of being your own advocate. During her interview, I asked Catherine to describe the impact of professional associations in her career development.

Catherine said, “I am going on my fourth year as a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP. The organisation as a whole offers many opportunities for quality education, training, networking, and volunteer / leadership opportunities. Being part of the association, I was able to create a rather large network of supportive administrative professionals.They all helped me to get involved, and pushed me to step up when I was just starting out. Ann Dahlke was really my biggest supporter and mentor; she helped me grow and develop in the association more than I thought I ever would. The association helped me create a clear career path that I wanted to follow, and opened doors to new opportunities I had never even thought of.”

Don’t promise what you can’t achieve or deliver

Helen Rees  grew up in Reading, England and lives in Hampshire, in a village a few miles from both Southampton and Winchester. I asked her to describe her time management strategies. “ Plan ahead. Look through your day at the start and identify hot spots, potential conflicts and potential moments of calm. Don’t keep checking email all the time; make specific time slots where you tackle emails so that you can get your other work done.”

Helen added, “Don’t promise what you can’t achieve or deliver – if you are asked to take on a task, people would usually prefer an honest answer that gives a realistic timescale for completion (or reasons why it’s not possible) than for you to say yes and then not be able to deliver.”

Your attitude will determine your altitude

Teri Wells lives in Roodekrans, a suburb west of Johannesburg, South Africa. In her interview, Teri recommended always having a can do attitude. She said, “I know it is an old cliché, but your attitude will determine your altitude.”

Teri also advocated for speaking up for yourself. “I used to always say ‘yes’ and it almost brought me to my knees with exhaustion and frustration at never being on top of everything. I tendered my resignation (about 10 years in to my 21 year service) because I felt I was drowning. My bosses were mortified and immediately offered all and any assistance I needed. It was then that I realised that I had to speak up.”

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