The main duties of a personal assistant are to provide administrative support to a senior manager or director and help them perform their daily tasks.
Secretarial duties carried out by a PA include arranging meetings, screening phone calls, dealing with correspondence, writing letters and emails, taking diction and minutes, and looking after visitors.
In addition, a personal assistant may be expected to carry out research, deal with office budgets, organize corporate events, purchase supplies for their employer, coordinate projects and give presentations.
However the role of the PA can vary widely depending on your boss or the industry you work in. A PA in Hollywood would have a completely different experience than a PA for a Wall Street investment bank.
What skills will you need?
Personal assistants should have excellent communication, interpersonal and influencing skills. Working in the shadow of a senior executive can be demanding. An important part of your job is to protect your boss from unnecessary interruptions or requests.
To be a successful PA, you need to be proactive with excellent organization and problem solving skills. You should be a confident decision-maker, with first class time-management skills. Top notch word processing, IT and administrative skills are also essential.
Type of industries you can work for
One of the great perks to working as a PA is that you can find jobs across all sectors, including finance, media, legal and medical. Choose a sector that suits your personality.
For example, you may enjoy working as PA in a celebrity management company. Typical perks include attending events and receiving gifts passed on from the artists on the company's books. But you might also be expected to work long hours, including evenings and weekends.
If earning more money appeals, then consider working for a finance director, or in the legal and medical sectors, as those personal assistants are generally paid more.
How you can progress
If you're looking for career progression, consider improving your IT skills. Some industries, including legal and medical, also require specialist training. Networking is important so make the most of your boss's contacts. Talk to people who work in the sector you want to move into, then use a specialist secretarial job recruitment site to search for jobs.
What training you may need
You don't need a degree to become a PA. Experience is more important. You should be proficient in MS Office, including Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint and Outlook. Audio typing, shorthand and Publisher 2000 may also be useful. Your touch typing should be at least 50wpm, and you should be able to do a mail merge and surf the web without asking for help.