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What's it like to be a personal assistant? What's all need/ expected to have an doing this job?

What's all need/ expected to have an doing this job?


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Nancy’s Answer

I am actually an Executive Assistant at a tech company. I have been more of a personal assistant to other executives where my responsibilities might have included paying bills and personal shipping, things like that. These days, I support C-level executives and my main duties include calendar management, communicating with clients and other leaders on my bosses behalf, working with the rest of the EAs as a team to accommodate various calendar priorities. I also manage large scale events and smaller team meetings. Every job I've had has been wildly different based on the company and the executive and my relationship with the individual. Some of the skills I have found useful are: attention to detail, massive amounts of patience and a willingness to do whatever it is that will make your boss more effective. It's very important to know who you are and not be afraid to provide solutions, process simplifications and generally share your opinion about your effectiveness in your role with your boss. I absolutely love my job. I have my degree where I think I learned more about myself than skills that have made my successful in this role. I never knew what I wanted to do and thought I would do this until I did. Turns out I quite enjoy it and I'm good at it! It's important to be trustworthy as well. And prompt to take action on requests. Hope this was helpful!

Thank you, this was really helpful and I plan to do this just until I find something that ill be passionate about or until I get my degree in whatever I decide. Hopefully I love this and thank you again! Cleshawna R.

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Jason’s Answer

It all depends on what type of position it is in, for instance a personal assistant for a C-Suite executive and a personal assistant for an influencer are going to have different responsibilities. Some personal assistants manage their client's entire day, and some just handle bookkeeping/general organization. But ultimately some of the shared duties will include answering phone calls, reading/answering emails, managing schedules, booking/ordering/etc. You'll need to be able to organize and plan ahead of time, be available to assist with whatever may come up, be able to learn on the fly/improvise if necessary (eg. lets say your client needs their dog walked but you don't have the time. Google dog walking app, find Rover, find a 5 star rated person, etc).

What you definitely need:
-Organizational Skills
-Multitasking Skills
-Resourcefulness (Not every question will have an answer immediately, it's your job to figure it out)

Thank you and noted.Have a wonderful day! Cleshawna R.

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Diego’s Answer

I am an Administrative Assistant at a tech company and there are similarities to what a Personal Assistant would do.
I would recommend that when you start your new position as a personal assistant that you have a meeting to get on the same page as the executive(s) that you will be supporting; find out their preferences for meetings such as length, earliest start time, maximum number of meetings per day, if they will be giving you access to their email inbox and what the expectations are on their end. It is also extremely helpful to find out what they do not like. If something is not clear, always ask for clarification because it is better to keep asking several questions than misunderstanding and not doing something as expected.

At my company, what I have found extremely helpful is consulting with other Executive/Administrative assistants when there is an issue that I need help with. If you do not have this opportunity at the company you are interested in, I would recommend seeking an outside group with likeminded peers to get resources you might need help with in your day to day duties and for your career development.
You have to be a very private person as well, because you will be privy to confidential conversations, so you should never discuss any topic with outside parties unless you have been given explicit permission by the executive(s) you support.

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Brittany’s Answer

I am an Executive Assistant, but manage personal matters for my executive as well. There is a lot of overlap between the roles of an Executive Assistant and Personal Assistant and the skills necessary to successfully do the job are the same:

- Resourcefulness: Arguably one of the most important skills for the job. As an assistant, you are expected to complete the task at hand no matter what and you will often be asked to do things you may not have a lot of experience with. You may not be given all the information needed to complete these tasks and a large part of the role is shielding your executive from minutiae, so it will be solely up to you to identify every aspect of the task. For example, I was once tasked with obtaining a Russian visa for an executive I supported. I had never done this before so I made sure to do as much research as possible to ensure that I understood the process (visas are often a very time sensitive process). I did my own independent research online, but I also inquired with several other assistants that had experience with visas. Additionally, I communicated daily with the third-party company that processed the paperwork to make sure they had everything they needed and that the visa application was on track. I took detailed notes throughout the process so I would have resources the next time I needed to obtain a visa.
- Organization: As mentioned above, taking notes (and filing them somewhere easily accessible) will help tremendously with your success as an assistant. I often refer to this as helping out my future self. Being organized is an essential part of the role as you will often have a variety of tasks to complete with different deadlines. It's important to keep a detailed but tidy to-do list to ensure tasks are completed on time and accurately. For example, while you may be working on a task with a deadline of next week, your boss may suddenly ask you to do something that needs to be completed by the end of day. Organization will help you as you shift and prioritize your tasks based on urgency. Which brings me to the next skill...
- Sense of urgency: It's important to understand deadlines and prioritize your tasks around them. "Putting out fires" is a typical experience for an assistant, so although it is important to stay on top of the tasks with the most urgent deadlines, the "fires" are something you will always be battling. It is just as important to balance "fires" with the tasks that have deadlines further out (otherwise those distant deadlines may also turn into fires themselves!). For example, I was coordinating my executive's vacation to Japan and several months before he provided me with a list of restaurants he wanted to visit. Reservations are a must at upscale restaurants in Japan, but because I was caught up putting out "fires" and I was not aware of the cultural implications (going back to resourcefulness - be sure to learn about other cultures if your executive plans to travel internationally), I did not make the reservations in time and he was unable to visit several restaurants on the list.
- Attitude/flexibility: The experience detailed above with the reservations is one example of the importance of attitude. There will be times as an assistant that you fail despite your best efforts. It's important to always address your failures rather than cover them up. If there is a possibility of correcting a mistake, certainly do your best to correct it. Some executives are more understanding than others, but I have found that across the board the best remedy to any failure is to own up to it, apologize, and state how you plan to fix it and/or not make the same mistake again.
Additionally, attitude can be an important resource when working with others (especially other assistants). Approach every interaction with positivity, gratitude, and helpfulness. Consider this approach an investment because there will be times you have to ask things of others that may be inconvenient and/or challenging. Be as flexible as possible when others ask things of you as there will most definitely come a time that you will need to ask the same of them.
- Communication/follow up: Some executives provide more context than others, but generally they are quite busy and won’t be able to answer any questions you have right away so it’s important to know what questions to ask upfront to get all the information you need to work. You may also be communicating with your executive mostly via text/email, so succinct communication skills are important. If you’re ever confused or need clarification, it’s always better to ask than to assume or guess. Clear communication is also essential when working with others, especially if you are scheduling meetings and/or coordinating travel/logistics. Following up with others is essential as there may be times they will not get back to you with information needed for you or your executive. Organization helps to stay on top of items that require follow-up (set reminders or make a note on your to-do list).

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