It’s my job and I’m proud of it!
I am a Personal Assistant. I’m responsible for organising a whole other person. I problem solve every day, I offer advice, I’m the eyes and ears of my manager, every piece of work I do has to be accurate , I make decisions and I have to be able to interact with a wide range of different people. No two days are the same and every day is unpredictable…I love it! Why am I writing about being a PA ? Because I’m so tired of some of the attitudes I encounter towards people like me who work in “administrative roles”. The attitude that it is not a proper profession, that it is something people who are poorly qualified take on, that it is a stepping stone to something better.
I appreciate fully that there are people who do my profession who don’t see it as a worthwhile one. However, I would argue that this is the case in any profession. One of my closest friends studied for ten years to qualify as a clinical psychologist. She has a good job, has been incredibly successful with her studies and has good prospects…and she hates her job! She does it because she feels she invested too much time not to and feels trapped by it. I’m sure the same goes for plenty of people in plenty of other professions.
After I graduated from University (yes I went to University and have a degree), my first proper job was within a law firm as a Legal Secretary. The attitude I constantly experienced from university friends, family, even my good friends was that it was a great stepping stone into the law! I could learn on the job, do some courses, do a conversion course; my administrative role would lead me to great things! That was all great advice of course — if I had wanted to be a lawyer! I remember being embarrassed of being a Legal Secretary. Why didn’t I have the urge to be a lawyer? Should I do what they all assumed was best for my career? In the end, my attitude towards what I did became a negative one — after all I was just a Legal Secretary and would never amount to anything better.
In my case, I knew I didn’t want a Legal Secretarial career so I did some further study to enhance my administrative skills with the intention of trying something else . I taught myself to touch type, I polished up my communication skills, I perfected the art of being completely and utterly organised. I found myself working as an administrative assistant and then a Personal Assistant in a busy legal team elsewhere. The attitudes continued — at least I worked in a legal team/large organisation. I have loved my job for a long time but it has taken me equally as long to openly tell people that I’m proud of what I do! I work in a highly sought after profession, a profession where people have the opportunity to make good money, a profession that can take you all over the world if that’s what you want. I work in a profession that colleges are catering for more and more because there is demand to do this work. I work in a profession where people are incredibly skilled at what they do — so much so that it is often difficult to articulate to those outside of it what those skills are. I work in a profession without which many teams , organisations, companies all over the world would fall flat! (Maybe that’s a bit dramatic but you can see what I’m getting at). What’s not to be proud of?
I also work in a profession where should I want to move on to something else , I’m well equipped with core skills, initiative and hard work ethic to get me there. My profession is not the same as the example of my friend who is stuck as a psychologist — I have so much scope to do what I want. Every day I build on bettering myself just because that’s part of the job — nothing I do means that my time is wasted should I choose to change direction.
I think it’s high time Personal Assistants, Administrative Assistants , Secretaries, indeed anyone who works and enjoys working in administrative roles, get the credit they deserve and the attitude they deserve. We are not Doctors, Lawyers, Psychologists but we play a vital part in the runnings of all sorts of businesses. We are passionate and we do not all view our work as a stepping stone to something “better”. Let’s stand up for our highly skilled profession, one that with hard work and dedication can really take us places. Let’s not let the attitudes of people who just don’t realise how hard we work force us to belittle what we do and feel that we are not doing something worthwhile.
I’m a Personal Assistant and I’m proud of it :-)