Plenty of business-savvy workers have envisioned themselves as powerful executives, making six-figure salaries and lounging in the corner office. But they soon find out that those jobs don’t often land in your lap, and you may need to start your career as an administrative assistant. This isn’t a bad thing! You might think being an assistant is a thankless job, but it’s also a golden opportunity – you’re making connections, learning the ins and outs of a company, and discovering which areas of business spark your interest and where your talents really lie. It’s an entry-level position, which means you can only go up, and here are some ideas to help you do that.
1. Be Good At What You Do
If you’ve been hired to be an assistant, then be the best assistant you can, even if that means tedious hours of answering phones, stapling, and filing reports. The key to being a top administrative assistant is organization, and this starts with making sure your desk is in order, that you know where everything is – especially important files, and that you can get your office supplies the second you need them. If someone in the office gives you a task, you ought to be able to complete it quickly. Before you can think about how to get considered for a different career, you have to prove you’re good at the one you have.
2. Get Close to People
If you want to make contacts at your company, you’re going to need more than administrative skills. You have to be a smart people person, too. Figure out the various personalities in your office, their likes and dislikes, and their work habits. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, especially other administrative assistants – you can help each other out in lots of ways. Also, try to get to know your boss, as hard as it might be. If there is an opportunity to help them out with a specific problem or even to stay late, make sure you jump at it.
3. Solve Problems Before They Happen
If you want to prove your readiness for higher levels of business, you have to learn enough about the way the company works to be able to predict issues. If you can figure out something that higher-ups haven’t, you will be remembered, and they might even come to you with bigger and more important tasks in the future. Plus it helps build connections – you never know when you could be bailing out somebody who is willing to go to bat for you later.
4. Treat Everything As A Learning Opportunity
No matter how high up your job is, successful businessmen and women never stop learning, and neither should administrative assistants. Absorb all the information you can about the company – its history, its financial growth, and where it fits into market trends. If you have a good idea of the career you’d like to have, research that department and find out everything that goes into that position. You can even talk to people and ask questions about what they do. Many of them will probably find your interest and desire to learn very admirable.
People might try to convince you that being an administrative assistant is a dead-end job, but it’s simply not the case. Although your chances for promotion obviously depend on the company you work for as well as the people in charge, you are gaining experience either way, and if you’re working for a company that has nothing to offer for you, you’ll be able to find another. If you have great business skills and a lot of persistence, you’ll get noticed. And when you get that corner office, you’ll be nice to the assistant who brings you coffee.
Sisily West writes for education blogs. If you’re looking at MBA programs, you’ll want to check out the mba ranking.