In our previous installment of “On Becoming”, we spoke with Christina, Parker’s very own Executive Assistant!
Today, we are happy to present Part 2 of On Becoming an Executive Assistant!
Parker) What is the career progression for someone in the administrative field?
There are a few ways to look at this.
Some EAs, such as myself, are career EAs and are not looking at this role as a stepping stone to something else. We are looking to increase our skills to become better at what we do and to progress within the profession. There’s a lot of talk in our field about titles as they are misleading – some EA roles are much more complex and can require years of experience and knowledge, but use the general EA title. On the other hand, some EA roles have fewer requirements, but they have the exact same title. I’ve seen Senior EA titles and other variations on occasion, but that’s not always the case – oftentimes we are all lumped under the general EA name, so that can be misleading as someone might have great career progression but no title change.
Some EAs, such as myself, are career EAs and are not looking at this role as a stepping stone to something else. We are looking to increase our skills to become better at what we do and to progress within the profession.
Parker) So in other words, what is an EA at one company may not be the same thing at another company, so people should be careful and learn that distinction during the interview process. What about for those interested in growth of the position in their role?
Yes, some EAs are in their role to grow into another direction, which is great as well. Once you’ve mastered the EA role, you could move into a Chief of Staff (COS) position. Companies are starting to embrace this role, especially tech companies – it’s no longer just in the political world. But there are tons of lateral paths as well. I’ve seen a lot of EAs shift into Project Manager roles, as project management is a huge part of what we do. But because as EAs we have our hands in so many different areas, one could move into Event Management, Meeting Planning, Marketing, and so many others – you can really follow a specific passion if you choose.
Parker) What about growth outside of the role the company has set up? What options are available for EAs looking to make a change?
Sometimes EAs decide to work for themselves. Lots of EAs have started Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager businesses in recent years (and, of course, since we have our hands in so many areas there are other business ventures we can pursue, but those are the more obvious paths). I was a VA for a few years as I needed the flexibility for a period of time. There can be a chunk of non-billable hours involved, but it’s a great option for entrepreneurial EAs to consider.
Parker) If someone wants to learn more about these options – where do you recommend they look?
I’d love to share some resources so people can learn more about the EA field! I have a list of all the websites geared towards assistants that I’m aware of (I have a few more additions to make, but it’s quite lengthy, so it should be a helpful start!): Websites for Assistants. My hope is from that list people can find some great go-to resources to turn to and learn about the EA role (and other support roles) as well as how to learn to be geared up once working in a support role.
It’s great to be able to sit behind a computer screen and know where to find the knowledge you are seeking, but I highly recommend reaching out to develop your professional network as well!
It’s great to be able to sit behind a computer screen and know where to find the knowledge you are seeking, but I highly recommend reaching out to develop your professional network as well! Having others to turn to for advice is so important. We encounter so many varied situations and it helps to have a strong network to turn to. It’s also great to have that feeling of camaraderie. Only others in our field will actually understand what it’s like to be in a support role 😉 For those out there who would love to learn some places to find others in our field, I wrote an article and shared the resources I have used to grow mine: Find Your People: Associations, Networking Groups and More.