Real Careers: Jennifer Wilson

Exceptional EA showcases Real Careers, in which administrators from around the globe generously share the benefit of their experience. We’ve made virtual trips to 21 countries to date: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, the USA and Wales. Today, we make our first stop in the Florida Keys.

Jennifer Wilson is an Executive Assistant. Here’s a look at her world.

A Stimulating Start

My day starts at 5:50 a.m. I wake up my daughter and  crack that first soda open for a burst of caffeine. While I prepare for the day, I make sure my 11 year old daughter is getting ready as well. I make sure my animals are fed and the house is clean before leaving for my daughter’s bus.

I am lucky that my sister and my nephew use the same bus stop so I have a chance to catch up with my sister. Either another soda or a 24-ounce Tervis of mocha coffee with a shot of espresso will be in my hand. My drive to work is about 20 minutes.

At the Office

Morning Routines: Once at work, I settle in my chair with again with either that other soda or Tervis of mocha coffee with a shot of espresso. I open my emails and get started on my work.

Primary Responsibilities: Some daily duties include formatting policies or forms, preparing PowerPoint presentations and running data reports. A typical day is very fast paced and non-stop, and will include many requests from my coworkers for help with programs or their computers.

How long is your work day? No overtime is typically allowed. but there are many days when I work more than eight hours. I will then have to leave early or come in late on other days.

IMG_9639What might be a typical lunch? I always have lunch away from my desk. I believe that  you should take this time to relax and regroup for the rest of the day.

Dealing with Challenges

What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? Work:life balance is the most challenging for me. Being a single mom, I tend to bring home to work or work to home. I’m still learning to separate the two.

Education is a key essential for my career

What do you most enjoy about your career? I really enjoy working for the executives and managers. I love the computer work and being able to make my superiors look good when it’s time to produce information.

On Saying “No”

Saying no is not easy, and most of the time I try not to because I like helping everyone. When I do have to tell someone no, I may let people know when I may be better able to help them.

Jennifer’s World

Map of worldI was born in Wilmington, Delaware but have lived in the Florida Keys for most of my life. I may live and enjoy a small town life, but I am a city girl at heart. I would live in the middle of Manhattan, NY in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

How do you like to spend your time outside the office? Being a single mom, most of my time away from work revolves around my daughter – school activities, sports, just hanging out. On the off chance when I have some adult time, I love exploring new places, movies, going to dinner with friends, crafting, and just relaxing on the beach with a fruity drink and a cute little umbrella in my cup.

How do you pamper or reward yourself after a tough day or week? I usually shop a little on Amazon (love being a prime member), or I’ll go get my nails or hair done.

 A dream holiday or travel adventure? I would love to go on a two-week cruise anywhere and everywhere. I love travel, and anywhere other than home makes for a great holiday.

Education and Professional Development

Professional development: Education is a key essential for my career. Online webinars and classes are quick and easy and can be done anywhere. I have learned a lot of time management skills and software updates that help me in my job.

On being awarded a scholarship to attend the 2015 IAAP Summit: It was an eye opening experience and I am very proud to have been that lucky

Peer and Professional Associations: I have been a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) since 2013. In 2015, IAAP awarded me a scholarship to attend the IAAP Summit. This consisted of five days of networking and education for administrative professionals.

I was also asked to speak at the Foundation dinner as a scholarship recipient, to discuss what it meant to receive the scholarship. It was an eye opening experience for me and I am very proud to have been that lucky. I learned so much from each class and from every member I had a chance to meet. I went back to work like a new person with all kinds of new knowledge to share and use.



Preferred form(s) of social media? Twitter and Facebook

Style and Substance

Toronto Style Copyright Shelagh DonnellyWhat is your go-to outfit to ensure confidence on an important day in the workplace? Any outfit with the colour red. Red is a power colour, and when I wear it I feel like I can overcome anything. A nice pair of high heels also make me feel confident.

What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? Lipstick and mascara. I never leave home without them!

Heels or flats in the office?  Heels.  For your commute? Flip-flops, actually – or barefoot. Favourite brands of shoes, whether you wear them or they’re on your wish list? Betsy Johnson. They are fun and funky.

What might we find in your desk drawer? A LOT! I have everything one could possibly need. In drawer one, I have office supplies, post-its, pens, tape, colored staples (I like to be different), highlighters, tacks/push pins, and flash drives. In drawer two, I have makeup, floss, a toothbrush and toothpaste, chocolate (spicy, dark, and milk), a sewing kit, my eye glass cleaner and cloth, an eye glass repair kit, K-Cups and a coffee mug, and backup soda cans for emergencies.

I am very proud that I was able to achieve my Associate’s in Business

Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. When I started this position, I was asked to go back to school – and so I am very proud that I was able to achieve my Associate’s in Business.

Lessons Learned

What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? The importance of time management, and how to deal and work with different personalities/work styles

What are a couple of valuable early conversation topics you recommend an assistant initiate when beginning work with a new executive/principal? One must ask about priorities and what is expected on a daily basis. Open communication is a key to a successful working relationship.

Open communication is a key to a successful working relationship

Your most effective time management strategy? Utilising my Microsoft Outlook tasks and calendar

Advice for new executives on how to best work with an assistant: Have open communication. Your assistant, no matter how hard one tries, can not read your mind.

For those interested in promotion: Take part in continuing education, be it brief online classes, joining an administrative professionals’ group, or going back to school. One must keep up to date with technology, communication skills, and coping mechanisms for the administrative work place.


… and now, a note from Shelagh. Readers not familiar with some of the people and resources Jennifer referenced may be interested in checking the following links.

IAAP – International Association of Administrative Professionals

To explore a range of resources recommended by readers, click here for Exceptional EA’s Resources Page or click here to see all professional associations and networks recommended by peers.

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