Happy holidays, all, as we’ve reached Day 12 of this year’s edition of 12 Days of Real Careers! Think of these 12 Days as gifts of experience and wisdom that we can all incorporate, and feel free to share these posts with others who may find them helpful.
If you’ve just now come across this annual celebration of 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.
To read the full interview from any of these individuals, just click on her or his name.
Adapt to culture change
Renée Neverson, USA: “I was determined to succeed and learn from mistakes that I’ve made along the way, and that has led to my success as an administrative professional.
Through my educational journey, I have been afforded many opportunities within the last 12 years – such as obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, and becoming a certified Records Management Specialist through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) … I’ve also participated in various administrative professional webinars, attended administrative conferences, and taken several Human Resources classes. I like being in charge of my career, and these opportunities help me do that!”
I would like to keep pushing myself outside my comfort zone
Janice Parker, from Australia and living in England: ” Your time and opinions are just as valuable as those of any other member of the team. Do not be afraid to put time in your manager’s diary to catch up or discuss more serious topics. If the meeting is moved, reschedule it as soon as possible and do not let your colleagues make you feel that their meeting should go before yours (unless it is business critical).
Do not be afraid to speak up and be heard; you will have interesting things to say and your colleagues will want to listen.”
Be flexible and open to new responsibilities; take every opportunity that may arise
Diana Brandl of Germany: ” Loyalty, trust and transparency are extremely important for assistants in their working relationship with a boss.
… Speak frequently with your boss about your wish to grow. Bring ideas, and show how important a new project or function would be for you. Also demonstrate the benefits for your boss and the organisation, as it will help your manager to understand your path. I have always stated clearly what I want to expect from my job and never had the feeling that I was not supported enough.”
Network, and show your worth
Declan Halton-Woodward, England: “ I would say that, more and more, experience is valued above education. So, I’m lucky that I have had the opportunities to work on a variety of different projects, with different people in different industries. This has without a doubt helped in my career.
… Network, and show your worth. Use your initiative to save the company money and put in more effective processes. Try to go on some training courses and to different industry events, as they really help with your career progression and also your confidence.”
You can conquer anything with an open mind and a positive attitude
Monika Bercheter-Petterson, Norway: “When working with top executives you will find that all of them have different working styles, personalities and expectations. Nobody comes with a manual. You are in charge of making their days smooth, perfectly organized, efficient and productive. It can be challenging at times – but I do like a challenge. It would be boring if every day was the same. You will work on different matters at the same time and, since things can change quickly, it is always good to have a back up plan.
Being organized and having very good communication skills and excellent time management are of the essence. Having a broad cultural background is definitely an advantage. I enjoy the fast-paced environment I work in and the responsibilities I am entrusted with. All of that makes the job so interesting and challenging. I love my job. I would not have it any other way.”
Approach a job interview as a puzzle, and remember it’s a two-way conversation
Sarah Howson, England: (on returning to work as a new parent) “You can 100% be the person you were before you had a baby! It’s daunting, it’s nerve-wracking, but you can do it. I found having a “project” to focus on whilst I was off kept me on my toes and kept my confidence up. Search out your local PA networking group and attend a session – or, better yet, offer to help organise an event.
Setting up Buckinghamshire PA Network is also something I am very proud of. I was very lucky to have a very well behaved baby – after wanting to find a networking group to keep in touch with all things business, I couldn’t find one in Buckinghamshire. Manchester, London, Oxford and Berkshire all had one, but there was nothing in Buckinghamshire. I remember my first tweet about setting one up and the encouragement I had from everyone, particularly Lindsay Taylor and Matthew Want. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Note from Shelagh: The Buckinhamshire PA Network is now the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire & Oxfordshire PA Network.
As I continue on my journey, my priorities change
Erika Giesl, Canada: “Always acknowledge your coworkers when you arrive and depart. Leave negative energy at the door. Ask for assistance when needed, and don’t assume anything. Productivity increases when everyone works together.
… There is always room for improvement/growth, although it also may depend on the company they you are employed with and its organizational chart. If there is no room for a promotion, then look into other opportunities. Sometimes a promotion can be a newly formed position, bringing forth skills that you are currently not utilizing. Demonstrating over and above skills or volunteering to be part of another department team project can illustrate your potential.”
When you are at work, be at work; when you are home, be present for your family
Deirdre McGovern, USA: ” Learning is living; if you do not keep up with the latest tools available, you will become antiquated.
I regularly say no when I am unable to assist. I like to think of myself as a very helpful person/professional; I will assist just about anyone. However, in saying that, if someone enters the office to ask me something ridiculous or if the person is trying to pass the buck, I have a plan in place. I stand, look them straight in the eye and very politely say, “I am unable to do that. I really do not have the time as I am very busy” – which is not a lie! I speak up for myself.”
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
- Day 10: Dawn Becker, Suzanne Benderski, Stephanie Bergsieker, Juliana Carneiro, Anel Martin, Jacqui Quigley, Liza Young
- Day 11: Nicole Blanchette, Jean Coco, Louise Cope, Karin Hélène (interview to follow Feb 6/19), Beth Ann Howard, Jacqueline McCumber, Marc Taylor-Allan, Teri Wells
- Day 12: Monika Bercheter-Petterson,Diana Brandl, Erika Giesl, Declan Halton-Woodward, Sarah Howson, Deirdre McGovern, Renée Neverson and Janice Parker