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What it's like to be an Executive Assistant / What Executive Assistants Do

Updated on November 21, 2013

3. Here are some of the many things that you might be responsible for as an Executive Assistant.:

The budget: You will need to manage the company/ organization's budget wisely and not overspend. It might be considered your responsibility/deficit if the organization overspends. You will typically keep track of accounting with software such as Quick Books Professional. You will need to use other databases such as Excel and Access to organize various matters as needed.

Keeping track of a company's finances is a big responsiblity but it is best not to let it overwhelm you. You can start to think of it in very elementary terms of debit and credt (how much you owe, how much you have) just like when you would balance your own personal check book. Thinking about things in these terms are the very basics of accounting.

Going along with the budget, you will likely be the one responsible for paying all of your organization's bills. For example, when phone and utility bills arrive in the mail they will probably be designated to your own workplace mailbox. You will be responsible for opening them and paying them out of the company budget in a timely manner. You might designate paperless/ on-line only payments as well. Additionally, if the property used for the organization is leased, you will cooperate with the leasing office to make the rent payments.

With over 3 years of past experience as an Executive Assistant, here is the advice I can offer regarding what Executive Assistants actually have to do.

First off, it is notable that an Executive Assistant may have to wear many hats- a Jack of all Trades. At times, the title Executive Assistant can also be interchanged with Office Manager, Special Events Planner, Trouble Shooter, Problem Solver, and more.

An Executive Assistant may have to work for a small office or a large company and with the work demand is typically paid accordingly. University programs, Corporate firms, Nonprofit organizations, doctor's offices and more all need Executive Assistants. Interestingly, the same title "Executive Assistant" can yield a range of salaries from low $30,000 to over $70,000.

Unfortunately, in the experience of some, working as an Executive Assistant can border into becoming a Personal Assistant for your supervisor. Typically, however, you should not have to focus on getting coffee for your boss or picking up his drycleaning. Most of the time, as an Executive Assistant, you are an integral part of the company's team and you are greatly depended on to keep things running smoothly. The work can therefore be very rewarding if you are up for it.

Here are some ideas you can take away if you are flirting with the idea of applying to become an Executive Assistant for a company.

1. Know your rights and don't find yourself in a situation where you are treated more like a "Personal Assistant" attending to chores that help an individual only.

Always keep the entire organization's mission in mind as motivation to keep you going. You can find opportunities to get on board with improving organization policies or implementing new programs for example.

2. As an Executive Assistant, you must have great ability to multitask. You might be sitting at your desk working on one project and then be called upon to get up and immediately start working on something else. This is not for everyone.

If you feel a definitive need to focus on one task and see it to completion before beginning another, this is not the job for you. You must be flexible, cooperative and willing to handle multiple projects at a time.

To help with this, you must always have an organized calendar and to do list. Using post its/ sticky notes to indicate where you left off with one project when you had to get up to do another will also be helpful to you.

4. Keeping the office space maintained will also be your responsibility in that when something breaks, you must be on the phone with the applicable party (e.g.- leasing office, handyman company, computer technician, etc) to get it fixed. That is if you are not fixing it yourself. If the budget does not permit bringing a computer technician for example, you might have to try your best to troubleshoot the problem with computer. Sometimes, it is something simple that you can fix yourself. Knowing your way around computers can be a great asset in an Executive Assistant position.

There are a number of other things that can go wrong of course. If the ceiling starts leaking, you have got to be on it to have it fixed.

5. Your co-workers/colleagues and higher ups will appreciate you getting things done in a very timely manner especially if it affects them directly with their ability to do their own work. It can be something as simple as the atmosphere not being comfortable because the air conditioner broke. The faster you make the needed call to get prompt service to fix a problem, the happier everyone in the workplace will be.

Workers might also find that they have an issue with one of their paychecks or the way benefits were applied. They might come to you for help with remedying the matter. If the organization has a seperate payroll and/or benefits office, you might also be a liaison to work through the problem.

Telecommunication with various offices is a big part of the Executive Assistant job.

6. You might find yourself enjoying autonomy in certain areas especially if you are creative, individualistic and like to make decisions without always having to consult the whole team, depending on the supervisor(s) you work with and whether they are willing to give you that flexibility. For example, they might have so much on their plate that they frankly don't have time to care or fully invest their interest in the type of office furniture you choose. Yes, when office furniture need to be ordered, it is likely that you will be the one ordering it in your role as Executive Assistant.

7. The same goes for any other office supplies- computers, printers, fax machines, pens, pencils, paper. You name it. You will be responsible for researching best prices with vendors and ordering supplies, keeping within budget.

8. You must maintain a budget for various Special Events and when catering and decorating needs to be done, you might also be able to enjoy making the decisions from menu to venue. When as special event (meeting, banquet, ceremony,etc) goes off well and is enjoyed by all, you might find this to be one of the more fun and rewarding parts beyond the daily routine of the job.

9. There will be a lot of responsibility with your individual work but it is also possible that you will be supervising others when you are in an Executive Assistant position. If you do, the individuals you supervise will probably be those responsible for secretarial and office clerical work such as alphabetical and/or numerical filing, typing memos and photocopying. Nevertheless, if there is any shortage of workers or budget related "hiring freeze", be openminded to the fact that you might also be hired with the expectation that you do a lot of those things yourself without further assistance from additional workers.

Indeed, as an Executive Assistant, be prepared to wear many hats and multitask well but stay positive and enjoy the job!

Remember that your role is instrumental in helping for the greater good of your organization.


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      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      You mentioned a salary range from $30k to $70k. There are many aspects that determine this range. The two that factor the most are location and experience. Larger cities often pay more, and experience will increase the worth of the assistant.

      The job details you have listed actually sound more like an office manager. The Executive Assistant reports directly to the President or other Senior Management and seldom has the time to be responsible for the job performance of others. However, smaller corporations my indeed incorporate both positions for one person and that makes doing either job more difficult.

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      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Very informative and interesting. I always thought the job was pretty defined by the kind of person you worked for; their strengths and their weaknesses, as well as yours.