assistant career training

Why Being An Executive Assistant Is A Rewarding Career

In honor of Administrative Professionals Day, I want to share my thoughts on why I believe being an executive assistant is a rewarding career. When people tell me, “Anyone can do that job,” it bothers me. It tells me that person doesn’t really know what it takes to be a great assistant.

I hear it from both sides of the desk. I hear assistants talk about their job or the profession as if it is no big deal. I hear managers or Human Resource Professionals say it doesn’t take any special skill to be an administrative assistant. These people are naïve, to say the least.

A true Executive Assistant must do over 100 things well. A stellar Executive Assistant must think of every detail for every function such as calendar management, travel planning, meeting preparation and execution, and e-mail management. Those are just the fundamentals.

Top-performing executive assistants or administrative assistants must also be:

  • Persuasive
  • A leader
  • Organized
  • Intuitive
  • A mind reader
  • Creative
  • Approachable
  • Technically proficient
  • Director of office operations
  • Liaison
  • Manager of your executive’s work life
  • Stress reducer
  • And more. I’m sure you get the picture.

Working in this profession can be very rewarding if you choose to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks. Executive assistants can create the type of career they want today. They can choose to expand their job right where they are now. An assistant can strive to be a strategic business partner with his or her executive, but it takes work.

If you are considering being an executive assistant, keep in mind the opportunities can be limitless.

If you have been in the administrative profession for 25+ years, know that you can keep growing, expanding and learning. In fact, you need to continually learn and grow.

If you have been in the administrative profession around 10 years, think about what you can do to add more interest to your job. Also, be sure to set goals for where you want to be in 3 years and 5 years.

Let’s all remember, this is a Career of Choice. It should not be something you are just doing until something better comes along.

Joan Burge

We would love to hear from you. Do you feel that being an executive assistant is a rewarding career? Or has it been a struggle? Please share in the comments below.

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74 thoughts on “Why Being An Executive Assistant Is A Rewarding Career”

  1. Hi There! We are looking for some people that might be interested in from working their home on a full-time basis. If you want to earn $100 a day, and you don’t mind creating some short opinions up, this is the perfect opportunity for you! Simply click the link here NOW!

  2. I love my job. It’s that simple. I believe we have an amazing and fulfilling career. We get to help others succeed and that’s such a great feeling. We are “supers”, people don’t know what we do and are even a tiny bit scared of us, but we are there to make sure everything runs smothly and to take care of any issues before they become a problem. Yeap, we are supers!

  3. I did love the webinar Wednesday. Thank you for hosting! I really do like helping others and thinking of the details, as well as encouraging others to learn and grow. Sometimes I feel that I havent thought of everything and I’m looked at as inferior because I havent done so. How do you get your head around the many tasks and get everything done quickly? I hear so many people talk about it, I need to cultivate the awesome confidence you all show here. It’s hard. It’s been a difficult week. So I appreciate the wonderful positive words here!

  4. Thank you for your comments and participating in our blog-a-thon this month.

    We ask that everyone keep their comments positive. Let’s keep the focus on ourselves as individuals and how we can improve rather than pointing out flaws in others.

    We’re looking to have fun and enjoy a celebratory time for Administrative Professionals. Thank you for honoring this request.

  5. Gloria von Gesslein

    I love being an AP. Although there are the fundamentals you listed above, every day is different. I can work in any industry. I can move in many different directions and take on any project. I’m surprised when I hear assistants say they are stuck in their role and there’s no place to go. It makes me wonder if they know how to leverage their skills and knowledge and really be able to navigate their careers.

    It bothers me too when I hear someone say that and say we don’t need an education. I immediately correct that because it hurts our profession and holds us back.

    1. Totally agree. It took me 4yrs to earn my Bachelor Degree in Business Management while being a mom of two and working full time.

      Ivette~

  6. It is absolutely rewarding! I’ve been in this profession for over 30 years now and everyday is something different. There is so much variety in what I do and in the people I meet every day. There’s always something to learn and I’m constantly honing my skills. Certainly your webinars, Joan, are invaluable and I really appreciate that you make your wisdom so accessible. Thank you for your efforts in giving recognition to our profession!

  7. I have 41 years in this profession, and yes it is a profession. Very rewarding career and one I would recommend. You get to be “in the know” without having to be “in the hot seat.” Without the support of IAAP and Office Dynamics, I would not be where I am today. Thank you!!!

  8. My career as an admin professional has evolved over 35 years and I have loved most of the experiences. I only wish I had discovered Office Dynamics and IAAP years ago as I have learned so much the last ten years. Thank you Joan and Jasmine for a wonderful month of blogs.

  9. Melissa Popadynec

    I love being an Executive Assistant. It is a very rewarding career. I loved this article as it expresses how I feel. Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

  10. Wow this article is perfect. It is exactly how I describe my view of my role. I am a business partner. I learn the business so I can be proactive in getting things completed even before Leaders realize it is due. This is my chosen professional career. I am a professional in my field no different than others in their field. I carry myself professionally, I behave as a professional team player. I coach and mentor other administrative staff and sadly many do not see it my way. Some just sit and wait for someone to ask them to do something. I often hear “well no one told me I needed to do that”. I am passionate about my work and enjoy the successes I have had. Thank you again for such a great article.

  11. Why is being an Executive Assistant a rewarding career…well, why not? What other career can you earn the respect of so very many in your organization…in my company, I am not only the Executive Assistant, but a counselor, mother (at times), a spiritual leader, a prayer partner, an educator, an advocate, a “nurse”. a business partner, an event planner, someone to celebrate with and cry with, and a fixer…these are just a few of the jobs of the Executive Admin that go along with my daily “normal” admin duties of calendar, travel, minutes, coordination of events, telephone calls and problem solving—of course, in this field these lists are not at all inclusive of our daily workload. I have been blessed with many spiritual gifts, notably compassion and mercy, so this career is the perfect fit for me. I am not saying it is always easy, as I am a fixer and a doer, but I know at the end of the day, I work for a wonderful organization and have a boss who TRUSTS me with not only the business, but his family life as well. So anyone who does not like to do the same thing day after day…go for it, own your position and grow into the outstanding and amazing woman or gentleman that you are…you will be surprised how far your impact will reach and how many lives you will touch. Happy Administrative Professional’s Week, everyone! (PS — i have been doing this since 1980, so I know I can share my feelings with only the best intentions for you…Enjoy life and enjoy what you do!)

    1. LOVED your post. You really covered a lot of territory and it made me realize, once again, the magnitude of skills a good assistant must have. When I think of counselor, that conjures up a whole bunch of special skills; educator, advocate, spiritual leader—not everyone can wear all those different hats! Thank you so much for such a special and valuable comment.

  12. Michael James Miller

    “A true Executive Assistants must do over 100 things well.” Editing is one of those skills. Someone failed to fix this silly mistake.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out, Michael. I take full responsibility for missing this one. I’m embarrassed to have missed it but happy for the ability to edit after it’s been posted. Wishing you a wonderful Administrative Professionals Week.

  13. So true. No one outside of our field realizes what it takes to be an administrative professional today. I love my job and wish I had found this job 20 years ago. I work for the CEO and President/COO besides the Board of Directors in a non-profit agency. Both men are admirable and appreciate me for everything that I do. I received a cookie bouquet from the CEO and a huge orchid from the President/COO for Administrative Professionals Week.

    I was asked to create a new title for myself; thus, Director of Executive and Board Affairs. But, I still do everything I can to make life easier for both of my bosses. From board minutes, to calendar management to getting them coffee or cleaning their coffee cups, there is nothing that I will not do or feel that is below my title.

    This is a wonderful field and I truly appreciate everything you do, Joan, for all of us.

  14. I do find it interesting that others use the word “just” to identify being an admin professional. I’m more than “just”. I’m the hub that keeps my Director and the team members from hitting the ground and not missing a beat – that strategic partner that knows the ins and outs of getting it done and done well. I’m a contributing team member – not just support. I continuously learn so that I can continuously teach my team to be more effective and efficient. And no, “not anybody can do this job” because it’s not a job, it’s a career.

    Angie

    1. Well said Angie! I used to say “just” but over the years I’ve grown and consider myself the one that continuously supports all in the department. When I’m not here my boss panics so I’m worth lots!

  15. I am so glad to see you put into words all that admins do and state it is a career of choice. Many do think that anyone can be an admin until they try it. I have many tell me they don’t know how I manage. And, hearing people say an admin is just a stepping stone will put me on my soap box in a heartbeat. I love what I do and it is my career of choice!

  16. Love this post! It hits the nail on the head. I love being an Executive Assistant. It takes very special skills and I hate that many people don’t view it this way.

  17. Happy Administrative Professionals Week to everyone! I have been so encouraged and invigorated by the webinars and blogs this month. Though our University has several Administrative Assistants, my executive’s office (CFO) is rather separated from other areas where Administrative Assistants are located. It can be isolating, so participating in many of the ‘events’ organized by Joan and Jasmine has been wonderful. I am in total agreement with Joan’s observations about our careers as Administrative Professionals. Since my executive is often conducting business outside the office, I appreciate that he has communicated the confidence he has that I have things under control and will keep him updated on anything he needs to know while he’s away. This is just one of many responsibilities which make our roles so valuable to those who count on us.
    As a result of the blogs/webinars, I’m looking forward to furthering my knowledge by pursuing the Microsoft Office and CAP-OM certifications….slowly, but surely! I’m motivated to become as proficient as possible in the applications I’m using daily, which will allow even more efficiency and accuracy. Thanks again, Joan & Jasmine!

  18. I somewhat stumbled into this profession 17 years ago (long story!), but have found that while it’s not what I went to college for, I couldn’t have “stumbled” into a better profession for my skills and strengths. I’ve not only handled the paperwork side of things, but I’ve learned that I fill a “therapist” roll for my supervisor and coworkers as well. When I’m having one of those days that feels like a struggle, I’m always uplifted to hear words of appreciation from my supervisor and coworkers. I am beyond blessed to have that opportunity because I know not everyone does. All in all, it was a blessing in disguise to find this career and I thank God every day for it.

  19. I’ve an assistant for nearly 35 years and yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. I learn something new nearly every day. I am thrilled that our profession is demanding (and beginning to get) the respect it deserves. Administrative Assistant Day, though condescending at times, has helped us get the recognition we deserve – including spawning support and educational resources such as Office Dynamics. Thank you, Joan!

  20. Great blog. This is definitely a career of choice. I wouldn’t want to do anything else! I love how varied our roles are and how much we can get involved in.

  21. I love the adinistrative profession. It is very rewarding being able to assist and work with executives to help achieve their success and ultimately the companies and my own. It is true that what you make happen for others they make happen for you and I have been given more responsibility and asked to be office manager. Thanks Joan and Jasmine for all your work it helping our profession.

      1. Michael James Miller

        Shireen is not the only one whose post needs editing. You should look up the proper use of a semicolon since you managed to misuse all four of them in your post.

  22. Linda, St. Louis, MO

    I’ve truly enjoyed my role as an Executive Assistant. I enjoy helping people and I do believe it is my role to make my strategic partner look good. I’ve learned so much from Office Dynamics International. I’ve enjoyed the free webinars, and I have bought several books off the website. It really is what you put into your job that makes all the difference. I do believe it is important that you love what you do. I wish every person reading this a Happy Administrative Professionals Day! Thank you Joan and Jasmine and the whole crew at Office Dynamics.

  23. It is so true that as an administrative assistant we wear many hats and have to be adaptable. It isn’t just sitting at a computer and mindlessly entering data or answering phones but being creative, problem solving and juggling an assortment of duties and interruptions. I love helping all our clients who call or come into the office for assistance. Many of them are so appreciative when I can find the right solution for them or offer different options of how to obtain the results they wish. Sometimes it is a challenge to bring terminology into layman terms – but so rewarding when you see their comprehension. There is always more technology to learn or industry changes to adapt to.

  24. I’ve been working as a temp re-writing and updating Safety & Health procedures for a warehouse.
    The company never had an Emergency Evacuation Plan or a Safety Committee to monitor safety which is required by OSHA. After researching, I was able to put together the Emergency Evacuation Plan that was approved by the Safety Committee. The approval may me feel real good because I knew I was the creator of both. Happy to say they have 12 members now on the Safety Committee and they had three meetings thus far. They like how I organized the meetings with an agenda, charter, minutes, and materials. Helping others is what being an Administrative Professional is all about. Thank you Office Dynamics Team for all your blogs, including the one “outside your comfort zone”. A BIG THANK YOU to Joan Burge for her continue inspiration and education.

  25. I love my administrative professional career. Applying a strong base of administrative skills has allowed me to work in various industries and expand or contract my responsibilities accordingly. It’s very exciting and ever-changing and evolving. I love learning new things and everyday is a new challenge. I have over 36 wonderful years representing my successes directly attributable to my choice of administrative professional as my career.

  26. Irma Ballestero

    The other day I overheard a coworker say “No one takes me seriously because I’m just a secretary”, I began to look at her and began to see why my department holds me and my position (Exec Admin) in high regards, I dress professionally, I speak to people with respect, I work along side my VP and make sure he knows what is going on and looks good in front of his peers. I constantly look for ways to improve myself… I can go on, but she doesn’t do any of those things, no wonder no one takes her seriously. It’s just a job to her, not a career.

    1. Wow! The point you made about career vs. job I can relate. I need to adjust my attitude on this statement. I want to feel part of the team; however, it’s hard when my supervisor doesn’t have that attitude. Working on that part.

  27. Yes I really agree with it. being an executive assistant is a reward and it is a rewarding career when we use our skills to offer a good work as a strategic bussiness partner. We have the oportunity to grow with it. Sensibility; discretion; intuition and good sense make part of it.

    1. Thank you Lucia! Being a great assistant encompasses doing 100 things well (as I said) and not every person can manage that. The profession is a great place to develop a plethora of skills that a person can use in their personal life as well.

  28. Cynthia Burnett

    I do feel that this job is rewarding. I enjoy helping people and solving problems. Thanks for the blog and the free webinars!

  29. It always bothers me when I hear people say anyone can do administrative work or that it’s just until something better comes along. That is the difference between a job and a career.

    1. Totally agree with you Heather.

      Like others, I stumbled into it, but I love what I do now, and am thinking about next steps, but next steps staying in an administrative role. I appreciate the Office Dynamics team, and others who help us with figuring out how to take things to the next level.

  30. I agree with everything that Joan said in the blog. Being an assistant is an amazing career. I’ve been an assistant for more than 35 years and I have learned so many different things. I’ve worked for a variety of businesses and have made many different friends. I love my current job and my executive! It is so true that you can make your job anything you want! So glad I chose to have a career and not just a job!

    1. Becke, you nailed it when you say: you can make your job anything you want. As you know, I always talk about it’s up to make our jobs and careers interesting.

  31. I used to be embarrassed on Administrative Professionals day. I didn’t like the attention. Call it a self-confidence issue. I also felt that some of the comments that were made to me were condescending. I turned 60 this year and started thinking about when I can retire. I’m pooped!! But today, I’m thinking about what I can do to continue to learn and grow. I love learning new things that will help me bring my work to the next level. So instead of counting down to retirement, I’m going to continue to set goals for myself and look for projects that I can take on to stretch myself. Being an Executive Assistant has been very rewarding. No two days are ever alike. I have gone farther than I ever thought possible. And I still have more to give. This is no longer just a job. It’s what I was meant to do all along!

    1. Hi Kathy! I am so happy to hear that you are shifting your thinking. You and I are still young at heart and mind. Shifting your focus to learning whatever you can between now and retirement will make each day an adventure. And will also pay off when you do retire. Congratulations!

  32. This is spot on! I remember one of my executives, whom I supported most of my career, and who was supportive of me asking me if I wanted to move into another area of the bank where we worked. He thought if I moved out of the administrative assistant position I would have more opportunity to “climb the ladder”. To me, that wasn’t important. I loved, and still do, that this is my career choice. I’m good at what I do, and I am very proud to be an administrative professional. That executive gave me many opportunities to excel at my career once he realized what he could hand off to me and trust that I would complete the project or task. This also carried over when that financial institution was acquired by a much larger bank. It was interesting the people who were reaching out to me from the acquiring institution for information because they couldn’t get to the right people or couldn’t get the right people to respond.

    This has also translated over into my current position. The executive whom I now support actually pulled me away from another position that was not as rewarding for me because he was looking for an assistant that he could rely on and trust, and after many interviews, my name popped out. The rest has been history.

    Whatever the position is called – administrative assistant, executive assistant, administrative profession – it is most rewarding when you have a solid partnership with your executive. I have been fortunate enough to work for some wonderful executives for most of my career, and those that weren’t so wonderful were just stepping stone on to something better.

    1. Very inspiring Tammy. Thank you for your post. I have been in my current position for 15 years and still love my job. I don’t have one executive that I support, I have seven law professors, the lowest number since I have been here. With so many different personalities and levels of computer skills it keeps the job interesting. If I don’t know how to do it, I will learn. If I don’t know the answer to the question, I will find it. Or I can direct you to the person who knows. I’ve been a landscaper, a waitress, a professional truck driver, a receptionist and an administrative assistant. No other career choices has been as rewarding as being an Administrative Assistant.

  33. I’ve always been organized, a high-achiever, detailed-oriented, and all those other adjectives that can be applied to anyone in our profession. But an Executive Assistant? That was someone who wasn’t well….me. Yet here I am, the Executive Assistant to the CEO for the social services agency I work for. Because she saw that in me; she believed that I was the person to assist her in working toward the goals she had set for her first year as the CEO. I’ve embraced the challenge, become a little more assertive, gained new skills and have renewed confidence in myself and my abilities. Thanks Joan and Office Dynamics for providing excellent resources to help all of us in the profession grow and become the best we can be!

  34. This is spot on, Joan! I just happened to be working on my annual performance review when I read this, and I can point to every attribute you listed! As an executive assistant who is also the office manager and lead for our admin team, I can attest to the fact that an admin job is not for wimps! This career can be as rewarding as you want to make it, and although I’ve had my share of challenges over the years, I am successful and feel that I what I do is important and valued by my team.

  35. I have been in the administrative profession for more than 20 years. It’s not the career I thought I wanted and I originally thought of it is a stepping stone to something else. Today I can’t imagine doing anything else and I have found ways to continue to grow. It is definitely a career and not just a job. Being an Admin is probably one of the most diverse careers out there. No two days are ever the same and I am constantly challenged to learn new things. I love being the “go to” person in the office for all things technical. I truly enjoy learning new software and system and then sharing my knowledge with the team I support.

  36. In a recent APW event I was attending, one of “many” things the presenter mentioned, which I found was a very good point for me to keep on a post it in front of me at all times was that in this profession, we need to want to help people or be okay with that, because that is what we do. We help people be the best they can be, be efficient in what they do, help the business or company be the best, we certainly might not like certain things or want to do something, or get frustrated, etc., don’t we all? But in our profession we are helpers in a good sense. We have to remind ourselves that we are to take the load off our execs or whoever we support or peers because we are there to help them to do their jobs. In the end it all pays off. Everybody, state, country, etc., needs a base to stand as tall or wide as need be. We are part of that base and we are very important. Happy Administrative Professional day to you all!

  37. Being an Administrative Professional is a great career! I work with a wide variety of people under different circumstances. I’m viewed as the go-to-person if staff person needs help. I do what I love to do, which is to help others and share my knowledge and experience. Every day is different and I don’t get bored.

  38. Yes. Being an executive assistant is very rewarding. I’m continuously learning new things everyday and if you want to have continuous growth in this profession, getting out of your comfort zone is a must!

  39. I have been a Senior Executive Assistant for more than 25 years. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love the challenge, the diversity of my job, the ability to learn and change at a moments notice! I think finding the right executive to work for is most important. For many years I worked for a different CEO and company and have been with my new company for almost 3 years now and I have grown so much more and absolutely love the partnership I have with our new CEO.

    1. Hello Lori! I agree with finding the right chemistry being very helpful to creating a strategic partnership. I am glad to hear you have the right business partner.

  40. I chose this career when I was a little girl. I loved how the “secretaries” seemed to be in the center of the action, finger on the pulse of the company! I remember watching old TV shows from the 70’s knowing that was the career I wanted!!

  41. Roxane Beth Johsnon

    This is definitely my career of choice. I worked as an executive assistant part-time for a few years over 15 years ago while developing a freelance writing and editing career. When that same CEO I worked for part time called and asked me to come back and work for him again, I thought: why not? I’m glad I made that decision. This is a dynamic, exciting career with so many possibilities. I used to think I was “just doing admin work while I pursued my dreams”. Now, I know that being an executive assistant is pursuing my real, heartfelt dreams of being of service, and getting to use and hone my organizational, creative and problem-solving abilities. I read recently, it’s not where you want to be in 5 years, but what you want to have learned in 5 years. There is so much to learn in this role! Thanks for yet another great, inspiring post!

  42. Psychologist, nurse, postal agent, yes- it is a well rounded, educated person who takes on this career. I love it for the varied assignments but occasionally it leaves me exhausted from the division of mind. But I am always excited to come back to work. Thanks for the support @OfficeDynamics

  43. I love working as an Administration Associate and working with the CEO, CAO, VPs, and AVPs of my organization. Working with the Board of Directors has proven to be one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my current position. The range of skills needed to provide them assistance goes from working through PC issues, getting calls for help with travel arrangements in the middle of the night, etc. to being offered a position with one of the Director’s companies. When staff says “anyone can do that job”, I think one day with the Directors and you would be eating those words.

    Have a great Administrative Professionals Day everyone.

    Deb

  44. I truly believe being in administrative assistant is a rewarding career. Love helping individuals. Used to love it more and be more friendly but I’m going to achieve that goal by the end of the year.

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