CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 02, 2013
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Kick-start your Career with some Admin Experience!

You surf desperately through the online adverts looking for a position that fits your education, interests, and aspirations. Nothing again! They all require experience, or are on the other side of the city – or country. You see another position advertising for an Administration Assistant.

“Great, low-paid and not in my area of interest – not likely!” You turn the virtual page.

But should you?

“Dead-end”, “boring” and “repetitive”. I’ve heard many describe the role of Administration Assistant with these words.

Jobseekers often overlook admin roles in favour of more exciting opportunities. Most of us, seeking to climb the career ladder, tend to dismiss Admin Assistant positions as a ‘last resort’. Sure, if we are temping, we’ll accept it just to survive – but it’s often seen as ‘a means to an end’.

However, a stint working in this area will not only help pay the bills; it could actually enhance your employment prospects. I’ve worked in admin many times over the years – both as a temp, and with a permanent contract – and I can honestly say that I would not be working as a freelancer now if I had not had my experience in administration.

I worked in a variety of sectors, from academia to private business, and while the job didn’t always bring great satisfaction, each role was more diverse than I had expected, and each role had something new to teach me. I developed various useful skills, learned about myself, and discovered what I did – and didn’t – want to do in the future.  

Here are some reasons why working as an Admin Assistant can kick-start your career.

Learn to multi-task and play an important role in the running of an office

Admin Assistants are unsung heroes. Most offices just wouldn’t function without them. They keep the business moving, and do all the ‘behind the scenes’ work that ensures the office runs smoothly. Whether there’s a conference to be organised, course enrolments to be taken, or stationery to be ordered – an Admin Assistant will take care of it!

Develop skills that will help make you more ‘marketable’

A stint in admin won’t damage your CV – the opposite in fact. This job develops and hones highly marketable skills such as:

  • The ability to organise yourself
  • The ability to work quickly and stick to deadlines
  • Analytical thinking
  • Computer literacy
  • All-important interpersonal skills.

Very few jobs will give you such an opportunity to learn and grow. Though the tasks are not always interesting, there are always new challenges to face.

Learn to help others

Admin Assistants are there to serve. This can be galling if you would prefer to be the one making the decisions, or you don’t suffer fools lightly. However, spending a year or two as part of an admin team can teach you a lot about others – and a little humility.

The role of Admin Assistant is in fact a responsible one. Sure, you don’t get all the credit, or sometimes any of it, but you are effectively an ambassador for the boss and her business. Often, you will be asked on behalf of the boss to request, or demand things, that you would never have the courage to do for yourself.

When the boss needs to move a project forward, who does she approach for her clear, coherent email style that elicits the positive response desired? You!

When that pesky customer turns up again, demanding to see “The Manager”, who is it who takes control of the situation; convincing the customer that the boss is unavailable, finishing the minutes for the mid-day meeting, AND answering the phone at the same time? You!

No doubt about it – admin assistants are the superwomen, and increasingly supermen, of the office.

Doing a job, any job, that makes you focus on helping others rather than yourself is character-building. Over the years I’ve had rude bosses make unreasonable demands, but I’ve also had those who were delighted by all the help I gave them.

Take my advice. If you can’t find work immediately in your chosen field, click ‘Apply’ and give that Admin Assistant job a go. See it as a learning curve – and grab the opportunity with both hands. The results might surprise you.

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