• How entry-level assistant jobs can lead to long-term career success

    June 15, 2017 by

     

    Recent college grads seeking the opportunity to develop a wide variety of job related skills can do so by pursuing entry-level assistant jobs.

    That’s what Amanda Ponzar did in her first job as an administrative assistant.

    “It taught me business skills, computer skills, organization, project management, and how to work with others,” said Ponzar, who is now the Chief Marketing Officer of Community Health Charities, an Alexandria, VA-based non-profit federation that raises awareness and funds through workplace campaigns and strategic partnerships.

    From that job, Ponzar moved to a marketing assistant role with the Franklin Mint, a worldwide provider of fine art and collectibles.

    “I learned about marketing and advertising, and demonstrated curiosity, competence, dependability, and initiative, so I was soon asked to edit management letters and collateral marketing materials, and then was recommended by my colleagues for a copywriter job at The Franklin Mint’s in-house ad agency,” said Ponzar.

    That is when Ponzar’s career took off. She moved into advertising copywriter and marketing management roles, went back to school to earn a Master’s Degree in advertising and marketing, and is now a CMO of a non-profit.

    She credits her varied experiences as an assistant for her career growth and success.

    “I wouldn’t be where I am today without those first entry-level jobs as an assistant that helped me define my career path,” said Ponzar.

    College students, and recent college grads should consider assistant jobs as a way to get their foot in a door at a company they would like to work with, or to build important job skills. While most college grads don’t get a degree aspiring to be an assistant, think long-term. Assistant jobs help provide a paycheck to start paying off school loans or debt (and help achieve financial independence to not live at home), and/or provide real world experience and a chance to build important job skills. In addition, it’s a great opportunity for the recent college grad considering grad school to gain work experience before taking the next step of their career. Many assistants could also work with companies as they pursue advanced educational opportunities – and maybe the employer will also help pay for it through tuition reimbursement programs. Building a variety of marketable skills is important, and assistant jobs provide a great opportunity to do just that.

    Assistants have unique opportunities to be exposed to all facets of a business, says Brandi Britton, District President of OfficeTeam, a leader in the placement of highly skilled office and administrative professionals into administrative assistant and front office jobs. Assistant jobs are in demand at small and large companies, non-profits, startups, Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley firms. Companies like Google, Facebook, and other leading tech firms all succeed because of good assistants.

    “Entry-level assistant can learn valuable technology skills from constant exposure to Microsoft Office, enterprise resource planning, database management and customer relationship management software,” says Britton. “You may even build experience with social media tools since administrative staff are often tasked with monitoring and managing their company’s accounts.”

    Recent college grads seeking assistant jobs, whether it be an administrative assistant, marketing assistant, office assistant, personal assistant or executive assistant (which often do take more advanced skills), can also learn these important career skills, says Britton:

    • Time and project management: Assistants often have to keep on top of executives’ schedules as well as project timelines. Let’s not forget that assignments come their way from every direction. That’s why assistants are masters of time and project management, organization, multitasking and adaptability.
    • Continual learning opportunities: You become well-rounded because you’re able to work on a variety of tasks – everything from event coordination to presentation decks. Once you figure out the types of projects you like most, you can hone your skills and consider moving on to a more specialized role in the organization.
    • Budget and negotiation: When you frequently speak with vendors and make purchases on behalf of the company, you quickly become skilled at budgeting and negotiation.
    • Verbal and written communication skills: Assistants are in constant contact with any number of internal and external contacts. If you’re in the role long enough, you’ll develop strong verbal and written communication skills.
    • Specialized skills based on organization/industry: Being an assistant in a specific department or industry exposes you to the day-to-day operations and provides insight into that area’s lingo, processes and technology.
    • Inside company knowledge: You gain knowledge into colleagues’ work styles and the corporate culture, which gives you an advantage at the company if you hope to advance there.

    Alissa Carpenter founded Everything’s Not Ok and That’s OK Coaching after over a decade in higher education. She has advised Millennials and GenZ students at institutions such as The Wharton School and Penn State.

    “As a recent graduate, being a personal assistant can be beneficial to your long term career goals,” says Carpenter. “You have the unique opportunity to work on numerous tasks and learn transferrable skills. You are often on the front line and are able to build relationships and rapport that can provide valuable connections.”

    The three skills organizations believe millennials are lacking can be developed in a personal assistant role, says Carpenter, including:

    • Interpersonal skills: You will be working with people from various levels both in and outside of your organization. You will learn to ask appropriate questions to find the most effective way to complete your tasks at hand and build strategic working relationships.
    • Teamwork: In one of the key positions that is crucial to putting events and tasks together, you will learn how to delegate and how to work with people with varying personalities.
    • Communication skills: As a key point of contact you will quickly learn the most effective ways to communicate with individuals and how people like to receive communications.

    Utilizing a role as an assistant to get where you want to be later in one’s career can really be a asset to entry-level jobs seekers, says Lori Williams, Recruiting Coordinator for College Nannies, Sitters, and Tutors of Edmond, Oklahoma.

    “Not only does it help build credibility and experience on your resume, but the people you often meet in that role can be sourced as references in the future,” says Williams. “You can develop many skills in this role, including project management, event planning, client relations, and administrative duties. All of these skills are transferable into future roles in just about any industry. Being able to develop these skills on the ground floor will help you add a good section to your resume entitled skills or career highlights and you can translate these into the job description for future career goals.”

    Said Ponzar: “Never underestimate an assistant job as a way to get your foot in the door and show what you can do, learn about the company, develop relationships, and new skills.”

    Look for assistant jobs right now on College Recruiter! Want more tips and advice on how to build career and job skills? Then stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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