Since my last enthralling post, I have been inundated with letters from readers asking how they can break into the exciting and lucrative world of being an Executive Assistant. People’s ideas of an Executive Assistant usually range anywhere from The Devil Wears Prada to Sheryl Sandburg’s assistant who can “lean in” and become a part of a meeting.
My minions recruit candidates for EA positions with amazing companies in the Bay Area all of the time and have a few suggestions for getting your start. You can’t just wake up one day, stretch your paws and expect to become an Executive Assistant. It is a career choice. And it can be very rewarding, both personally and financially.
Here are a few ways you can get started; but I’ll give you a warning, if you don’t have all or most of the basic qualities of a great assistant, you are going to do more clawing than purring as you climb this career cat tree.
The bottom rung is a great place to start! Starting out with a large company in a more junior position is a smart thing to do. Larger companies prefer to promote from within because current employees are already familiar with the company’s processes and procedures; no extensive training is required.
Make yourself useful. Many of the candidates who have come into Alan J. Blair started out by assisting a family member or friend with their administrative needs, either offering their time or taking a role as an intern. They get to learn and hone their organizational and communication skills in an environment with less pressure.
Start small and take on a lot. Work for smaller companies or startups where you might wear many hats and assist the owner of the company at the same time. This can be great training, and you will get an overall understanding of what an executive needs.
Temporary work If you are not currently working, temporary employment is an excellent way to increase your level of administrative support experience. You will also have the inside scoop on different companies and industries. It’s a quick training ground that pays you a salary. When a company calls us to rave about a temporary employee we have provided, we know that they would likely pounce on the opportunity to have that person interview with them.
Great Executive Assistants start out with a willingness to pitch in and learn without a lot of ego, and their confidence builds as they hone their skills. EA's are always highly valued members of the team, and they also enjoy a rewarding career path.