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Career Story: Administrative Assistant For A Large Custodial Services Company

Administrative Assistant For A Large Custodial Services Company

Job Title: Administrative Assistant

Education: Northern VA Community College & Old Dominion University, 186 credit hours in Liberal Arts, Police Science & Marketing.

Previous Experience: I worked as a test administrator for a contractor that provided pre-employment testing services to several large companies worldwide. Prior to that, I worked for a small government contractor for ten years. I have also worked in Marketing and Sales. I was a county police officer in the 1970's.

Job Tasks: My company is contracted by the City of Norfolk's Public Schools to provide management of custodial services for all the City's schools.

Typically, I interact with schools on a daily basis, providing substitute custodians when needed, assisting with problems, such as materials, staffing, etc. My day is roughly 50/50 with essential versus administrative tasks.

A typical day starts with the morning full of finding substitutes for custodians who have called out, for whatever reason. In addition to these duties, I handle most of the administrative functions of the office, including Accounts Payable/Receivable, tracking of expenses and spending, creating forms and spreadsheets to assist in the operation of the business, and various other duties. I talk on the phone a lot, speaking both with custodians and substitutes and other members of the Norfolk Public Schol system. I correspondend almost daily with the Human Resources Department for the City schools. My company is the largest supplier of custodial management firms in the world. The company have offices all over the world.

I have only been with this firm since November, so I am relatively new here. There are four Area Managers, each of whom has a certain percentage of the 60+ schools in the City of Norfolk. We also have a General Manager (my boss) and a Warehouse man who runs supplies to all the schools in the city. In addition, we work closely with the Norfolk City Schools offices, notably the School Plant office, where the City houses not just administrative personnel, but carpenters, painters, electricians, etc., that help to maintain the schools in the best-possible conditions.

I am amazed by the attitudes of the substitute custodians I work with on a daily basis. These are people who are, for the most part, fairly economically deprived. But they are willing to work hard. Many of them ride two or three buses to get to the schools when they are called on to substitute. A few of them ride bicycles to the bus, then ride the bike from the bus stop to the school! It is rewarding to see this kind of dedication from people who just want to make an honest living and take care of their families.

As you may well imagine, taking care of a school as a custodian is hard work. Some of the high schools are huge, and have custodial staffs of over 15 people. Other schools are very small, with only two or three custodians who daily clean and maintain every room in the school. And as any mom can tell you, kids are messy!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the feeling that I am providing someone with positive work and a way to earn a living. The attitude of my best people is something rare and wonderful to behold. These are people who WANT to work, but may not have the skills or abilities that would enable them to hold other jobs.

Hmm, the worst part? With my apptitude, it has to be anything involving numbers or math. I'm so glad I do not have to take care of payroll, for example (it's handled by the City). Numbers and I don't get along very well.

Job Tips:
1. Keep an open mind. People will surprise you if you give tham the opportunity. Don't stereotype people.


1. Read, read, read. Everything and anything. Reading increases your mental capacity, enhances your visions, and nurtures your soul.

2. Learn keyboarding. In today's computer driven world, typing with two fingers is just not practical.

3. Keep on top of your field...whether it be technology or stacking cans of soup in the grocery store, check out web sites that talk about the industry you are in. You never know when some of that information you glean may be of assistance to you in your career.

4. Try being creative! Instead of doing something the same old way it has always been done, find a different way to do it!

Additional Thoughts: Get as much education as you possibly can, the earlier the better. Respect other people, and learn as much as you can from everyone you meet. Don't be afraid to do the jobs no one else wants to do. Volunteer. Keep your family close, because your family will always be there for you, whether they want to be or not. Think outside the box.

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