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How To Succeed As An Assistant

Nov 6, 2016

Being an assistant is one of the most important roles within a company. This is because they execute the necessary tasks in order to keep it running. I strive to deliver accurate and perfect results in everything that do I (can you guess I have a Type A/conscientious personality?), which in turn I hope for recognition. Praise is something I grew up with coming from family, professors, coaches, etc, and gives me the energy & assurance to continue on with my intense work ethic. However, this is most likely NOT how it plays out in the real world. The expectation of perfection is still there, and is noticed, but not always voiced. Give yourself pep talks if you’re feeling down or stuck. Think, “You are doing a GREAT job”. Listen to your friends and families thoughts, because they are removed from the situation and can give a different perspective. It is imperative to make your bosses life as easy as possible, and set them up to succeed. This is a time in your career to be humble, and work quickly but with accuracy. Leave your ego and feelings at the door. Don’t get your feelings hurt if no one asks your opinion. Since when has an executive thought, “But what does the assistant think?”. There are definitely times to voice your opinion and show them what you know, but also times to step back and realize those with more experience have the last word. Pick your battles!!

Even if you feel your tasks are mundane, know that without them the fundamentals wouldn’t happen (i.e. without keying a purchase order, there would be no goods flowing into the store). Master those tasks and be able to do them with your eyes closed. Be a SPONGE! Soak up the knowledge from those above you. Request to attend meetings, and get in front of executives as often as possible. It is important to hear what they are saying, and observe how they think/what questions they ask, and get face time with them. Think outside of the box. Try to solve problems others don’t have time to do, and brainstorm ways to make the team more efficient. If your company utilizes a lot of reports, know them like the back of your hand. Learn what information is on which report, so when asked a question, you will immediately know where to go.

Always dress for the job you want, NOT the job you have. This could be for the next role, or your dream role. Wearing tees, jeans and sneakers is comfortable, but won’t get you noticed. When an executive is considering who to promote, they will appreciate an employee who dresses up daily, because they won’t have to worry about what they will wear during client meetings.

When receiving constructive criticism, respond only with a simple “thank you”. You may not agree with what they are saying, but rather than defend yourself, be grateful they are taking time to invest in your growth. Don’t totally brush off their comments, but rather, take time to digest them. Come up with an action plan to show you took their advice into consideration and are actively seeking change.

Lastly, meet with as many people within your company as possible. Ask them for coffee or to get together outside of work, even a 15 minute conversation in their office if said employee is insanely busy. It is essential to have personal connections with your co-workers outside office hours. Again, you never know where people will move around, and it will be much easier to contact them if you’ve had dinner than just seen them in the office everyday but barley spoke. Do this starting from the assistant to executive level. Think big! You never know their response until you ask.

Delia Folk




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