How can a Personal Assistant develop her career? This is the testimony of Yvette, PA in London, from young girl to proud assistant.
You were very young when you started working: which were the advantages and the difficulties of this choice?
The advantages of this were that I was fortunate enough to get a good job in a great city about two years before the global financial crash. This helped me through difficult times while other people I knew struggled to find decent jobs. After the crash I had about four years of work experience – an unprecedented amount in my industry for someone who was only 22.
The disadvantage is that it took about five years before anyone took me seriously. I was younger than all the graduates that were joining the workforce for several years, so when I wanted to make a suggestion or comment, it was very difficult to be heard.
How did you become an Assistant? Was it what you wanted? Do you think this is the job of your life or just the starting point?
Initially I wanted to study to become a lawyer. I had been looking for some work experience whilst I was studying for my A-Levels and I ended up getting work at a small, local estate agent. After working there over the summer, I had planned to go back to my studies, but they offered me a full time job. I was very happy to accept, but after about a year I wondered if I had made a big mistake in stopping my studies and not going to university. It was then that I decided to look for a job in central London, and I started my career as a team assistant.
I am definitely a career PA/EA and I am proud to support and represent the profession. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
Did your negative work experiences have consequences on you? Did they help you to improve yourself despite the troubles?
I have been the subject of bullying in various forms during my career. I didn’t know how to deal with it, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to who had been through something similar.
I have also witnessed mass redundancies within my team. This was awful to watch, but it made me determined that I would be prepared if that were to ever happen to me. Going through tough things like this have ultimately made me stronger as a person and more protective of my subordinates.
Would you like to advise something to the fledgling Assistants? Do you think vocational training could help them?
I would always promote training of all kinds, especially when it helps you develop as a person or assist you in doing your role. It is important for companies to include their administration staff in training budgets – I hear all too often that key support staff are overlooked when it comes to training.
The best advice I could give a fledgling assistant is to learn what your company does. If you work for a huge, global company, then learn what your department does and understand how it fits in within the company. Once you understand how your role and the role of your team impacts others, you can achieve so much more.
I would also recommend getting a mentor. Reaching out to someone who is an experienced Assistant can be invaluable when it comes to getting advice on things like promotions, job changes, and difficult projects/tasks.
YVETTE PEARSON, Personal Assistant
She has worked in this role for many companies, for many years. From large Blue Chip organisations to tiny start ups, and everything in between. Her 10+ years career in Financial Services has taught her so much about what it means to be in a supporting role.