When people used to ask me what I do for a living I felt an instant discomfort. Administration, as a career is sometimes vague. I found it difficult to describe or pin down. “What exactly do you do every day?” was the most frequently asked question. “ Lots of things “, I found myself repeating over and over. It was only when I was pressed for information, that I realised how great a skill set I have from working in administration. Not only that, but my knowledge of various industries has increased ten-fold due to working for a colourful suite of companies. From hospitality to information technology, I have learned about the importance of yield management for a hotelier to knowing how to change RAM in a PC. These skills I acquired simply from being the administration assistant within said organisations.
I like to think that a great administration assistant is the cornerstone for any successful company. Without us, meetings would not be scheduled, photocopying would not be done, the filing cabinet would be in disarray and most importantly there would be no toilet paper in the restroom. A great administration assistant is like a good mother, helping to keep everyone else organised and ensuring that everything runs efficiently. An excellent administration assistant will even remember birthdays in the office ensuring that a dreary Tuesday might be livened up with some spontaneous chocolate mud cake for forty year old Phil in accounts.
The beauty of a career in administration is the possibility of endless growth. I never ever stop learning. The databases and CRM systems and accounting packages and stationary options are endless. Excel as we know (and slightly loathe) seems to have infinite uses. Even better, is the phenomenon of social media and its important place within business. This medium of marketing and knowledge sharing has forged an opportunity for many administrative assistants to branch out from their usual tasks and manage the companies’ social media in some instances. This is the sexy part of administration where one can feel like Carrie Bradshaw for the day.
Most importantly though is the coffee machine. I have worked in some big name organisations and the best part of my day was going in to the office and making a cappuccino from an industrial coffee machine with barista paraphernalia. Honestly that alone was enough to satisfy my want to get out of the bed in the morning. This is obviously not something to tell future employers though – “Yes, I am very ambitious and want to pursue a career in administration. I hear that I can drink unlimited soy lattes.”
Administration, it must be noted, is not without its faults. Stress can be high on the agenda and sometimes the boss thinks you are an Octopus. “When you have finished collecting lunch for all seven floors of the office, can you photocopy the bible, organise flowers for my wife and mistress and clean out the fish tank”. Your tasks and responsibilities are definitely not limited. Sure, there are days when I go in and data entry fills a large portion of my day, but then there are the days when just about anything can happen.
The Just Plain Awkward
Most rewarding for me was when I was on sick leave for a week. On my return my boss gathered me in a great big bear hug and almost wept. ”Never leave us again.” I patted his back and grinned to myself. I am not just something that types and photocopies and orders the staplers. I am not someone that simply organises the window cleaner and field’s calls from idiots that management don’t want to speak to. I am, I guess, in my eyes anyway, a jack of all trades, maybe even a bit of a superhero.
Do you work in administration? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!