What do you do for a living?

I am a Executive Assistant / Event Coordinator

How would you describe what you do?

Simply put, I am an Internal Customer Service Rep.

What does your work entail as an executive assistant?

I provided advanced assistance to a department by performing various complex administrative support functions, including but not limited to, analytical and specialized administrative duties to ensure efficient office operations.

I performed advanced word processing and desktop publishing to include complex presentations, reports, spreadsheets and graphs; transcribe information of a technical, confidential and/or sensitive nature.

What does a typical workweek look like?

I took meeting and/or conference call minutes. Draft, review and/or edit written material to ensure accuracy, neatness, correct punctuation and grammar; recommend changes to improve readability and clarity.

I also coordinated, assist in planning, prepare agenda and monitor meetings; maintain calendar(s) and travel requests, handled highly confidential, sensitive and/or critical information, files, records and reports, and actively promoted and ensured clear communication within the department and facilitate inter-departmental communications.

Because I usually support 3-5 Executives and their direct reports (another 100 people or so), my workweek changes constantly. An Executive Assistant must remain flexible in her responsibilities in order to accommodate her department.

How did you get started?

Well I grew up in a very “dramatic” family. Learning how to communicate effectively was a must or else you would not be heard! I was a good public speaker and was able to present myself in a professional manner.

My first real job in high school was working in a Pharmacy as a tech. All of my friends were graduating from high school and going off to university somewhere. Even though I had the grades, my parents could not afford to send me to college, so I understood early on, I would have to work very hard and learn as much as I could in whatever job I was at. So when I worked at the pharmacy, I studied the Pharmacist and learned about pharmacy practices, medications, and insurance billing. When I worked for an Attorneys office, I learned about the law. I used the jobs I had as a means of training/educating myself. Taking what I had learned and building on it.

What do you like about what you do?

Because I usually support a President, CEO, or Vice-President it is sometimes required for me to travel with the executive. I have traveled all over the US and visited some very lovely cities.

What do you dislike?

After a while the very thing I loved became the very thing I disliked. . .traveling so much of the time and being away from my family.

How do you make money/how are you compensated?

An Executive Assistant is really one of the only careers where you don’t need a degree (although it helps) to become successful or make a pretty good living. I have a colleague who lives on the east coast in Washington, DC and she is a full-time, perm employee Executive Assistant at a pharmaceutical company. She makes over $100,000 a year plus stock options and a bonus!

Another direction is to consult with a consultant company. These companies are not recruiters/Temp Agencies, you become an independent consultant/employee of the company. Although there is usually no medical benefits or bonuses or stock options, they usually pay a more than fair hourly wage. Anywhere between 17.00 – 30.00 dollars per hour depending on what city you live in and the type of company you are assigned to work at.

Temp agencies are always an option. They usually have you come in and register with them. They will test you on your skill level, typing speed, programs, ect. After that you have to just wait by the phone for them to call you with an assignment.

How much money do you make as an executive assistant?

$70,000 + benefits in 2010

How much money do you make starting out?

I started out making an hourly wage of $14.00 in 1990.

What education or skills are needed to become an executive assistant?

A degree is always the most preferred, but it is not a REQUIREMENT. Knowing how to type and staying up-to-date on the latest office programs and information technologies are a must.

What is most rewarding about this job?

Organizing and coordinating a large meeting where information or ideas are being exchanged.

What is most challenging?

The most challenging part of being and EA is working with some many different personalities.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

If this is what you want to do, then go for it! Just remember you are an “INTERNAL CUSTOMER SERVICE REP” and we all know the customer is always right. Stay flexible, open, and available to everyone. Eventually when someone has a question or needs help they will come to you.

How much time off do you get/take?

It depends, I would adjust my schedule, doctors appointment, school conferences, and vacations around my Executives schedule so I was in the office when he was.

What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?

I think a common misconception people have is that being an EA is boring and we are stuck in an office all day.

In 1998 I worked for a government program that helped develop innovative ideas or technologies for the military. The DoD would invite small businesses with an innovative idea or technology to submit a proposal. If the idea or technology was accepted, they would be funded from research & development through commercialization. One of the technologies that was funded and developed was “real-time” technologies. This is the live streaming video media that is pretty common now, but in 1999 it was new cutting edge technology.

In 2003 Navy Seals / Special Ops used this technology to record the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch.

I can’t help but feel a little proud of my small contribution.

What are your goals and dreams for the future?

Eventually, I would like to own my own independent consultant business and create a network of corporate professionals.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

Most people think I run around getting coffee and lunch for my executive. . .and I do sometimes but it’s not the only thing I do.

A really good Executive Assistant can do her bosses job too!

lol I’m just saying. . .