Career Story: Administrative Assistant To The Director Of A State Agency

Administrative Assistant To The Director Of A State Agency

Job Title: Executive Assistant (To The Director Of A State Agency)

Type of Company: My company is a non-profit state agency that works with districts to help fund public school building projects. Any district in Massachusetts that wants financial help from the State to build or renovate a school, has to apply through my company.

Education: BA, Theatre, Roger Williams University •• certificate, Early Education and Care

Previous Experience: I worked as an Executive Assistant to the Director of a non-profit theater for two and a half years

Job Tasks: My role is to assist the Executive Director (E.D.) of the company with administrative tasks -- drafting letters and PowerPoint presentations, sorting mail, logging all calls, filing, making copies -- and to manage her schedule and calendar. Additionally, I keep an inventory and order all the company office supplies and update the information on the company's website.

A typical day for me involves sorting through mail and making sure the proper departments receive important letters and follow-up if necessary, taking calls and logging them in a database and giving the messages to the E.D., giving the E.D. an overview of her meeting/event schedule for the day and arranging any upcoming meetings and events.

When she has a speaking engagement (these are usually conferences, large luncheons, monthly membership meetings, etc.) I create a power point presentation for her to present. These can be anywhere from 15-60 slides and they usually take a few days to gather the information and format it for the presentation.

Office supplies are usually ordered every two weeks. I check out inventory to see what we need and ask the staff for any additional requirements they may have for projects coming up. If they have a large filing project in the works, for example, they may need binders of files.

I update the company's' website 2-3 times a week. This usually includes posting press releases about what the company is doing, what schools they have visited or made large payments to, posting presentations and updating the calendar about any meetings or visits to schools coming up.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that I am constantly busy, so the day goes by very fast and I never feel that I haven't made a lot of progress during that day. I am also in many ways at the "heart" of my office, because I am closest to the "boss." Everyone comes to me for everything (questions, concerns, help, etc), so I enjoy the constant challenges and problem solving.

The worst part is filing. It constantly needs to be done and the files are close to the floor, so honestly it hurts my back.

Job Tips: My degree is in theater, I intended to perform or teach theater (which I do on the side but not enough to make a living), so I am not on the career path I started on. Having said that, my first piece of advice would be to get a very well-rounded education. Don't just take classes specific to one major, take electives to learn other tasks and skills. I found a lot of skills can be translated to other jobs and you never know what career path you might actually land on.

2. Work at acquiring good social skills. I think social skills and strong communication skills are a huge part of what I do. I deal with a lot of people daily both in the office and across the state. I think it's important to work on being a good communicator; being clear, being friendly, polite and helpful.

3. Try to be open-minded. You may think you know exactly what you want to do for a career, but sometimes find you are good at something else. It's important to try a few different things and allow yourself time to experience different possibilities. Once you find your path, you will settle better if you know what else is out there already.

Additional Thoughts: The only thing I would say is to look at the importance of the quality of life over financial stability. I think you need to set goals to live comfortably, but don't choose a career just because you think you will make a lot of money without determining if it actually makes sense for who you are as a person. Careers take up at least 40 hours of your week, and your happiness can partially depend on whether your career is feeding "your soul" so to speak. Think hard about what you are good at, but also at what makes you feel good as a person and try to find a career where you can apply both of those things.

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