Any administrative assistants/executive assistants here? Can you tell me about your job?

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Posted 7/27/2013 by CrankyPea in NSBR Board

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PeaNut 16,004
May 2001
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Posted: 7/27/2013 12:23:23 PM
If you work at this type of job, can you tell me what you like and don't like about it? Any info and opinions would be much appreciated.

Thank you



"I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize,
I don't care." Dave Barry


PeaNut 358,844
January 2008
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Posted: 7/27/2013 12:43:23 PM
I used to be an administrative assistant before I became a teacher. I liked that I could do a variety of things, depending on which department or company I chose to work at. I was writing copy at an ad agency, organizing regional meetings, working on budgets and meeting presentations for various associates. I loved the variety and I was pretty much in charge of myself. It was also a stepping stone to other positions in the firms I worked at, and had I not gone back to school for teaching, it would have been a great option.

I didn't like the few times I worked for ditzy people who didn't think ahead and came to me at the last minute with stuff that just HAD to be done right now, causing me to work late for no good reason. However, I liked assisting organized people or, if they weren't organized, helping them to get that way. The other downside -- sometimes I felt like I was doing their job for them but getting paid much less.

Hope that helps.


PeaNut 552,130
April 2012
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Posted: 7/27/2013 12:46:00 PM
Hi Angie,

I work as an Executive Assistant to the CEO. He is a self-made man, sold his first company to Google for 5M+. He is a type-A personality and expects perfection. That being said, he is kind, compassionate and appreciates my hard work and dedication.

The level of trust between my CEO and I has to be 100% as, more than anyone else in the company, I am privy to his personal and professional confidential information. This can result in a bit of a balancing act in getting along with co-workers and not answering nosey questions. Be careful of the executive that asks too many questions about the person you support!

Because of my CEO's schedule, I do need to be connected to my iPhone pretty much all the time. But with this expectation comes a lot of flex-time and reward.

My job consists of scheduling every minute of his work day and keeping him on schedule. So you have to be very organized and can't get your feelings hurt easily. I like my job, but it is work - don't expect to take it easy

I liked this article Richard Branson wrote about his assistant for LinkedIn:

Things I Carry: Smart Phone? I Prefer a Brilliant Assistant

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PeaNut 16,004
May 2001
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Posted: 7/27/2013 12:54:20 PM
Thanks Peasapie and Karenina - very good info!



"I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize,
I don't care." Dave Barry

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PeaNut 230,159
November 2005
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Posted: 7/27/2013 1:12:16 PM
I have worked as an AA for the same organization for over 20 years. As a previous poster mentioned, I love the variety in my work. I'm never sure of what I'm going to be doing in a certain day. Even though I have a "to do" list for a particular day, I may never get the opportunity to cross one thing off because higher priority tasks take precedence. I love the variety of people I get to meet, collaborate with, or serve as a resource for information. I've met people from all over the world as a result of my job. It helps if you know the Director (Manager, CEO, etc.)well, since you may often need to represent him/her when answering questions or giving approval/ rejection for projects. It also helps if you have a strong command of grammar and punctuation, since you may be asked to compose correspondence for your boss. I may spend an entire day working at my computer writing or editing policies, and other days I might not touch my computer other than for answering e-mails and checking schedules/arranging meetings. As a release for my creative side, I particularly enjoy creating PowerPoint presentations and arranging events (for anywhere from 50 - 100+ people). The one big downside - it may be hard to cultivate friendships because your true loyalty needs to be with the administrator you serve. If you hear something that you feel he/she should know, being a good AA means you need to divulge that information to him/her. Likewise, you need to keep everything your boss tells you confidential - not even telling a co-worker whom you may trust implicitly.

If you're contemplating taking such a position and all this sounds appealing, I would say go for it. Even if it's just a team of two, it feels great to be trusted and valued.

Thrift Ninja

PeaNut 226,011
October 2005
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Posted: 7/27/2013 1:21:58 PM
I was an AA in a previous life. (College years.) Hated it. I just don't like the idea of being anyone's assistant. I want to *have* an assistant, not *be* an assistant. It wasn't for me.

It was a lot of repetitive stuff that required zero thought, reasoning or decision making. Answer the phone, type this up, set up this project, make copies of this, file this, bill this, lie to clients about boss' whereabouts... Blah. Boring.

I like making the decisions, and when I was an AA, I was just carrying out someone else's decisions.


PeaNut 465,906
April 2010
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Posted: 7/27/2013 2:20:22 PM
I worked as an AA before I had kids. It was for a small company and I did a little bit of everything.

I really liked it. I'm very organized, so it was a good fit for me. I liked the variety of jobs, the level of trust, and I had a lot of flexibility in my hours. ( <-That may not be the norm, however) I spent a lot of time developing custom software for the company (this was almost 20 years ago!) and keeping the office organized and keeping a hundred tasks on schedule and polished. I was responsible for most of the correspondence and communicating with other offices and our parent company, so my communications background helped out a lot. We had guys in the field who didn't report to me, but did check in with me and I kept my boss updated on their locations and tasks. I didn't do travel arrangements, as there was a separate office for that. Later on, I helped edit company manuals because I was a good writer and had an eye for details and consistency. When I did that, I had an office person who reported directly to me.

My DH has a demanding job and we really had to decide early on who was going to be the main breadwinner and who's career had the priority. It sounds sexist, but it was our reality and it has made our lives go much smoother over the years. I knew we wanted kids and I knew I wanted to be a SAHM. It was a good job for me, as I had a lot of responsibility and was essentially in charge of myself. But I didn't have the responsibilities of high travel and urgent deadlines.

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Cindy March

PeaNut 487,105
November 2010
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Posted: 7/27/2013 2:53:42 PM
As with any job being an administrative assistant has both pros and cons. For me it was a great starting point. The good parts are: 1) I loved being in the middle of everything. 2) I loved being needed. 3) Now that I have an assistant, I have no problem rolling up my sleeves and helping her. 4) If you are open minded, you can learn a lot. 5) it can be diversified. There's more...What I didn't like was: 1). I often felt like I was a babysitter. 2) People look down on the position 3) You have to be a mind reader.

from New York
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Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 268,201
July 2006
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Posted: 7/27/2013 7:44:55 PM
One of our daughters is an AA in the political arena. Her experience is that it depends TONS - who you are working for! Some executives are great to work for and some are real jerks who just use people up for their own personal gain/power.

Rick Springfield Junkie

PeaNut 78,429
March 2003
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Posted: 7/27/2013 8:30:31 PM
I have been an Admin Assist for almost 20 years for the same company, for the same boss (the president of the Company). Plus assist two other partners, and this year two more new partners who will be taking over as the older ones retire. (at least I think that is the plan). I do a variety of things, travel schedules, seminars, phone calls, work on cases, spreadsheets, letters, reports, maintain database...extra stuff during 'tax season'.. All good things.

I would say my old 'con' is that there really is no option of working from home or a flex schedule... I can work from home but I need to 'be' at the office for the most part.. If kids are sick I can do some stuff from home to stay home. Another plus is that I have been there so long, time off for whatever reasons is usually not an issue. I can work off times or weekends if I had to to make up time if needed (which doesn't really happen to often)

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