In the business world, a Personal Assistant (PA) is a trusted junior employee who assumes the role of an executive's chief-of-staff. The exact responsibilities of this position can vary, depending on the needs of an employer, but often include scheduling and making pickups or deliveries as needed. Individuals in this job often have a background in business, and skills such as multitasking and time management are vital. While this work can be difficult and quite demanding, it may also provide a PA with numerous opportunities for growth and professional advancement.
Job Duties of a PA
Many of the everyday tasks necessary for an effective workday fall on the personal assistant, from scheduling meetings to arranging transportation. Employers often expect a PA to screen incoming calls and messages, assign tasks to other junior employees, and prioritize the employer's schedule. Running personal errands or setting appointments may also be part of a PA's duties. In some cases, an Administrative Assistant (AA) might handle professional responsibilities, while the PA focuses on household tasks.
Becoming an Assistant
Once an executive decides that hiring a personal assistant might be a necessity, he or she often looks within the company first. Employees with secretarial experience or a proven track record for loyalty may be the first ones considered. A degree in business or management can make someone more attractive for this type of position, though such education is not always necessary. Many professionals looking for a personal assistant want practical skills, such as the ability to multitask and schedule events effectively, and a good personal rapport between themselves and potential assistants.
Benefits of Being a PA
Personal assistants are often in a position to interact with high-level executives, which can lead to an inside track on promotions or other job opportunities. Executives may also invite a PA to attend business dinners or private parties. Vacations for executives often become a working vacation for a personal assistant, with paid travel and an expense account. Working for a well-known company leader or celebrity can also be a social perk, resulting in invitations to movie openings, concerts or other high-profile events.
Drawbacks to Working as an Assistant
As tempting as the position of personal assistant may sound, there are some downsides to consider. A PA often works more than 40 hours per week, including weekends and evenings as needed. The average salary for an entry-level personal assistant typically reflects his or her junior status, even if his or her employer is well-compensated. An assistant's comfort and ease at work depend on the demands of his or her employer, which can make working for a difficult individual much harder than many similar jobs.