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What is a typical work day for you? Do you like your job? What are a few conflicts, challenges or something stressful concerning the job that you have had to deal with?

I am a young adult looking to go into the secretarial trade, specifically an executive secretary, and would like some advice and insight into the average day of a working employee. #business
#career #job-search

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Jennifer’s Answer

I have been an Executive Assistant for about 25 years, currently working in the tech industry.

A typical day starts with checking my phone for texts (the most urgent method of communication from my exec/team), then I check email to see if anything critical has happened overnight that I might need to address even before I start my commute. I then re-review my exec's calendar for the day to see if anything has changed or new meetings have come in overnight (we are a global company, so our co-workers and stakeholders are working around the clock depending on their region). Once I am in the office, I start working on processing emails and tasks and am constantly shifting my focus depending on the priorities and deadlines of new tasks coming in.

Some of the things I've been responsible for in Executive Assistant roles are:
travel arrangements (hotels, flights, rental cars)
ordering lunches and catering for meetings,
setting up conference calls
greeting guests, offering hospitality
coordinating team building events
organizing offsite meetings, conferences, and events
creating and editing meeting agendas
managing budgets and tracking spending
expense reports
supply ordering
updating and drafting policies, correspondence, slide decks
general support to my exec helping to manage the morale of the team they run

I am a point of contact for anyone trying to find time with my executive, and often need to arrange and reschedule meetings to accommodate requests. A certain amount of ability to identify what situations are the most important to the goals of my exec and their team is required. Knowing when you don't know how or don't have the right information to make a decision is something that is important in this job. It also requires a level of care-taking as well because you are trying to make sure you do everything possible to make sure the life of your exec runs smoothly, so you are doing your best to alleviate stress, pressure and ambiguity and confusion for your executive.

Important skills:
computer skills (Microsoft Office, Google Suite, Slack, Zoom)
being flexible
attention to detail
embracing change & ambiguity
being able to fill in blanks to move projects forward, or make decisions
managing stress
liking people and being likable
seeing the big picture
being able to anticipate outcomes
good judgment
communication - written and oral
quick thinking
being able to give and to follow instructions

Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

Temporary employment agencies are a great place to start when embarking on this career, as you can test out different industries, size of business and learn about many different exec personalities
Look on LinkedIn to join executive assistant groups
Search Executive Assistant roles on job boards or LinkedIn to note differences in what is required of assistants in different industries

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Isabel’s Answer


While not currently in a secretary position, I can share with you some good characteristics of successful executive secretaries I know. First, today's work day for a secretary does not consist only of typing up documents, answering phones, and making travel arrangements. Excellent secretaries juggle a multitude of requests and most of them support multiple people/teams. They have the technical abilty to set up video meetings, audio conferences, know how to put together modern PowerPoint presentations, run reports in Excel, predict the needs of the people they support, and so on. So the more computer skills you have the better. They are also very comfortable with changing priorities and don't mind when they are pulled in different directions. Finally, they must always be willing to adapt to new ways of working and embracing new technologies and processes. Flexibility is key. Hope this helps!

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