Wednesday, September 6, 2006

A friend of mine is going through a possible job change, and an ancillary comment made by one of her respondents triggered a pet peeve of mine. So now I'm going to talk about that pet peeve. Just to make it clear, no one was disparaging or mean, it really has to do with the world's attitude toward Administrative Assistants.

You see, I know that there are a lot of people out there who take "just" an admin job until they can move on to the career of their dreams. They want to do tech work or be a manager or whatever, and that's great for them. Ambition is wonderful when harnessed and used productively. However, I find myself getting rather ticked off when people continually seem to take the attitude that administrative assistant positions are only filled by either people who are entry level and have no other skills, or people who are dead-enders, stuck in the position because they're too dumb or incapable of doing anything else. The implication that admin jobs are easily filled and easily worked really gets my goat.

The admin can make or break a company / department / team. If they're good, things run so smoothly that people don't even realize HOW good they are. They handle all of the details, anticipate all of the needs, and keep the cogs of modern business greased and moving in clockwork fashion. Anyone who doubts that has never had to deal with a BAD admin before. Anyone who HAS had to deal with a bad admin should know better and should treat their good admins like gold.

A friend of mine told me once that his favorite business instructor in college pounded it into his class' heads over and over again, "Treat your administrative assistant well. S/He has the power to make you look great, or to make you look horrible.". Well, that professor was right, and I wish that more people would realize it.

I am an administrative assistant. It's my job. I'm very proud of the job that I do. I'm excellent at it. I am organized, competent, pleasant, good with people, good at making people comfortable on the phone or in the waiting area, and talented at organizing offices and the people in them so that everything can be found easily and runs smoothly. I excel in anticipating needs, and am getting better at it every day as I learn more about this new industry that I've found myself in. I can fix office equipment, I can figure out how to get you on a plane for the cheapest price at the shortest notice, and I can call to re-schedule your doctor's appointment...all at the same time. I routinely perform a juggling act that would make Ringling Brothers performers green with envy...and I do it all with a smile.

I'm worth a hell of a lot, to be blunt, and it doesn't take much for me to know I'm appreciated. A 'thank you' or 'well done' now and then, being treated with RESPECT, being listened to when I have suggestions for ways to help the office run even more smoothly...oh yeah, and a decent paycheck. These are things that go a long way in showing that I'm recognized as a useful and integral part of the team that forms our office.

So no...I'm not "JUST" an admin. I'm a professional who specializes in making YOUR life easier. Respect that fact, and don't assume that I'm working this job because I am too ill-equipped to do anything else. This job is NOT easy, and the fact that I make it appear to be easy only serves as a testament to my abilities.

And if you really think I'm "just" an admin, then how about living without myself and the others like me who make things go? You wouldn't last ten minutes. I know this because I've seen what happens when myself and others like me miss a day of work.

"Just" an admin, indeed.