I’m happy to bring you Day Nine of this year’s edition of 12 Days of Real Careers.
If you’ve just now come across this annual celebration of insights and fellow assistants, have a look at this post to learn more. You’ll also find links at the base of this article to all interviews featured to date within this year’s 12 Days.
Think of these 12 Days as gifts of experience and wisdom that we can all incorporate. To read the full interview from any of these individuals, just click on her or his name.
I am keen to change the perception of what it means to be a PA
Debra Peltz, England: ” Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen. Ask your leader or seek out opportunities to attend training and development sessions – it could be a free webinar or session you find online.
If you see a role that you are interested in pursuing but don’t yet have the right experience or skills, find out what you would need to do in order to gain them so that you would be in a better position next time. It could be as simple as brushing up on your Microsoft skills.”
It is not a sign of weakness to ask questions
Juanita Mort, USA: “I don’t think goal setting is something all admins do easily. I think we are often so ‘in the fray’ that we don’t take time to set goals – which is a big mistake. Goal setting is not only important to you and your professional development, it’s important to your executive and your organization as it helps you connect with and become accountable to the whole, giving you something to work toward.
… Find someone who exhibits the professionalism, skills and experience in the areas you want to grow and ask them to mentor you.”
Rosie taught me to how to develop effective systems and told me to always play to my strengths
Giulietta Driver, England: “I have a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Management. Whilst not obviously linked to my role, it gave me a really solid grounding in administration and finance. It’s really helped with things like Board administration, as I actually understand the finance terminology … I love my career, but I get annoyed by the perception that being a PA/admin is not a serious career, or is beneath someone with a degree.
… Ask for that training you deserve. It took me a few years to appreciate that training is as important for me as it is for my colleagues. Learning doesn’t have to be formal. I’ve learned a lot by chatting to other PAs over Twitter, and reading blogs and magazines.
Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and active. Employers DO look at these things (I know I have when recruiting), so it’s important to keep it fresh. I’m in a few groups as well, which has raised my profile.”
You need to be strong enough to say that when it’s family time, you will concentrate on your family
Shirwyn Weber, South Africa: “I thrive on change, and see it as another challenge to overcome and to master … When I realize that I need to move beyond my comfort zone, I always start planning the move. I never go unprepared beyond my comfort zone. I will then execute and do my best to make it a positive experience.
AI and all things like that will only enhance the future; it will require a lot of development and training, but ultimately help us with our jobs. I recommend that people always keep learning and developing new skills. I feel well equipped for the future, as I grew up in an age where AI and all things internet-related were developed and expanded.”
Find yourself a mentor
Chantalle Freeborough, Canada: “Saying no to people is hard, but I’ve learned it is better to under promise than to not deliver! EAs are notorious for saying yes when they feel the answer should probably be no. Then they just magically make it happen. But that ‘magic’ includes putting added stress on themselves.
… I often tell people I’m a lifer student. I finished my Office Administration Executive diploma at Georgian College, and continued to study part time to achieve a Teaching and Training Adults Certificate and AAA’s (the Association of Administrative Assistant’s) Qualified Administrative Assistant designation. Since then, I’ve been working on a degree program on a part-time basis. In the midst of studying, I engage in professional development – there are no two ways about it, it’s been advantageous to my career.
A healthy mind involves eating well, drinking plenty of water and making time to have a break
Megan Williamson, England: “As much as I stand by the statement, ‘don’t fix it unless it’s broken’, I do thrive on seeking opportunities to improve systems, which helps everyone. Many of the processes I worked with had a way of working that always had been. I keep an electronic version of paper documents. For example, for the department’s absence records, which were previously paper based, I have created an electronic spreadsheet that mirrors the same information and this means that the programmes do most of the work for me at the click of a button!
… I try and take skills and knowledge from each of my colleagues and use them to develop myself. Each of them works very differently and it’s important to recognise that. I would say my mum is my biggest role model; she’s successful and independent and I can always rely on her if I need advice, whether it’s what I want to hear or not.”
Qualifications are essential, of course, but experience is invaluable
Sherri Eckworth, England: “A good education got me off to a great start. In most jobs I’ve had, I’ve been offered training and support to do the role to the best of my ability – and if it’s not been in place, I’ve asked! … Qualifications are essential, of course, but experience is invaluable.
In any new role, get to know everyone before attempting to change the way things happen. Learn what people do around you – make time for others.”
Trust and respect come together as a package
Sarah Duncan, USA: “My background is in the legal field. I am not afraid to have ‘courageous conversations’ and feel that trust and respect come together as a package. You cannot have one without the other and you need both to successfully support any executive (or law firm partner).
Keep learning. Take as many classes as you can and remember to include EI (emotional intelligence) and relationship building in those classes … Stay fresh and current in all technology and learn ways to help it make you invaluable, not replaceable. Whenever possible, learn it from the back end, not just from the user’s end.”
Click any name below for the full interview from any of the Real Careers alumni featured in 2018’s 12 Days of Real Careers
- Day One: Susan Engelbrecht, Erin Floss, Priscilia Gough, Amanda Hargreaves, Else-Britt Lundgren, Paula Moio, Jennifer Robson, Debbi Shaffer, John D. Shaw
- Day Two: Craig Bryson, Bonnie Cookson, Florence Katono, Kelly McAulay, Nora Onishi, Jannie Oosterhoff, Angela Parker, Carys Stacey, Catherine Thomas
- Day Three: Rebeka Adamson, Jane Brazzill, Lorna Cowan, Angela Downey, MistiLynn Lokken, Christabell Pinchin, James Sobczak, Julia Schmidt, Catherine Williamson
- Day Four: Bianca Constance, Debs Eden, Debbie Grimshaw, Sofie Koark, Maria Marsh, Catherine Marshall Penasa, Eleni Rizikianou, Emily Walker, Matthew Want
- Day Five: Paula Harding, Cathy Harris, Amy Marsden, Barbara J. (BJ) Parrish, Helen Rees, Marcela Silva da Conceição Brito, Laura Swallows
- Day Six: Stacey Brewer (interview to follow Jan23/19), Lesley Dexter, Kerry Dawson, Susan Henderson, Stacey King, Solveig Kristensen, Karen Richmond, Katherine Vaillancourt, Louise Whitehead
- Day Seven: Megan Bishop, Kemetia Foley, Kim Glover, Craig Harris, Michela Luoni, Amanda Snowball Moscrop, Melanie Richardson, Breda Shanahan, Chantal Sneijkers
- Day Eight: Margo Baptista, Tonya Beattie (interview to follow Feb 6/19), Alison Boler, Melissa Francis, Lisa Olsen, Melanie Sheehy, Carolina Siqueira Silva, Carla Stefanut
- Day Nine: Giulietta Driver, Sarah Duncan, Sherri Eckworth, Chantalle Freeborough, Juanita Mort, Debra Peltz, Shirwyn Weber, Megan Williamson