administrative assistant

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prelaw10
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administrative assistant

Postby prelaw10 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:54 pm

When is the position of administrative assistant worthwhile? I will most likely go to law school next year, or the year after. Right now, I'm looking for a job that will give me some exposure to the working world. Are certain entry-level administrative positions, such as one at the U.N or a high-profile PI org, worthwhile? Will I learn something, despite not doing any substantive work? Can a purely administrative job, if done at an intellectually exciting workplace, actually be fun and educational?

I get nervous at the thought of committing myself for a year to work describd as "preparing itineraries, tracking deadlines, scheduling meetings and travel arrangements..." But I wonder if I get can something valuable out of the experience if I am working for someone interesting (potentially a good mentor) at a interesting organization.

The alternative is to directly be involved in substantive work but without pay. Basically volunteer work.

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romothesavior
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:56 pm

prelaw10 wrote:When is the position of administrative assistant worthwhile? I will most likely go to law school next year, or the year after. Right now, I'm looking for a job that will give me some exposure to the working world. Are certain entry-level administrative positions, such as one at the U.N or a high-profile PI org, worthwhile? Will I learn something, despite not doing any substantive work? Can a purely administrative job, if done at an intellectually exciting workplace, actually be fun and educational?

I get nervous at the thought of committing myself for a year to work describd as "preparing itineraries, tracking deadlines, scheduling meetings and travel arrangements..." But I wonder if I get can something valuable out of the experience if I am working for someone interesting (potentially a good mentor) at a interesting organization.

The alternative is to directly be involved in substantive work but without pay. Basically volunteer work.


Ummm.... the U.N.? Really?

prelaw10
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby prelaw10 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:22 pm

.[/quote]

Ummm.... the U.N.? Really?[/quote]

Sorry, I genuinely am not sure what your comment means? Do you mean to say it is a ridiculously hard position to get?

I wouldn't get a job at the U.N., but I wanted to put it out there as an extreme example of a position that entails doing bull work, but in an exciting workplace. But I do know at least one person from my undergrad who has gotten a job at the U.N. about a year out of school, but with connections and fluency in 3 languages. Most of what she does is scheduling appointments, and later, note-taking at meetings. This job makes sense for her because she's interested in pursuing philanthropy work and/or public relations in the long term. I want to be a lawyer, eventually, but want some exposure to the working world before going to law school. I've never had a full time 9-5 job and I think that having that experience before law school could be valuable. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.

Unfortunately (in regards to employment, anyway) I graduated with a liberal arts degree so I only really qualify for entry-level administrative work, hence this post.

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romothesavior
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby romothesavior » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:25 pm

A lot would depend on the fields you are interested in, the people you work with, and the types of things you'd do at the job. If you're looking to make a little cash and do something enjoyable, perhaps look into a job that gives you face to face interaction with people. Maybe work in a politician's office or an insurance agent or something? The pay wouldn't be great, but you'd meet a lot of people and each day would present something new.

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Moxie
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby Moxie » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:47 pm

Nightrunner wrote:OP, an Administrative Assistant position is neither glamorous nor prestigious, which means that most people on this board will scoff at it. That said, here is what it can give you:

1. Organizational Skills - most Administrative Assistants (henceforth: AAs) I know just plain have their shit together, in and out of the office, for business and personal life. Constantly organizing everything for an office and handling small details and long-term calendars will do that for you.

2. People Skills - AAs are usually the front-line for cold callers, which means you'll get the good and the bad of dealing with people.

3. Perspective - I fully believe that every single human being should be forced - early in life - to work an unglamorous service position for perspective's sake. It helps quite a bit, both in terms of learning the fundamentals of business (which, above all else, means "get your job done while making the customer happy") and in learning how to deal with people on the job.

4. (Potentially) A hell of a recommendation - if you are the person who makes everything work for someone else, the person who is ahead of the game and takes care of his/her problems before he/she even realizes they exist, he/she will love you. That's love leads to the little things that makes a standard LOR into a good LOR.

Maybe you need these things; maybe you don't. But, IMO, that's what it will give you.


As someone who worked as an AA full-time for a few summers, +1 to this post. It's not glamorous, but if you're willing to learn, there's a good upside to AA positions.

prelaw10
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby prelaw10 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:56 pm

Great responses, thank you.

agnes_bean
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Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:32 pm

Re: administrative assistant

Postby agnes_bean » Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:21 pm

Agree with Nightrunner.

Also, I'd say something to think about, at least as much as how interesting the business you're going to work at is, is who your boss will be and whether or not you'll get along. Speaking from experience, being an administrative assistant to someone who yells a lot and is not at all appreciative is total hell, and probably not worth it if to doesn't forward any long-term career goals, even if it is at the freakin UN. You'd enjoy yourself more working for some random business with a nice boss (plus, the nicer the boss, the more likely it is that they will be open to you asking questions and learning more about what is going on beyond your duties).

tamago12
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby tamago12 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:33 am

Moxie wrote:
Nightrunner wrote:OP, an Administrative Assistant position is neither glamorous nor prestigious, which means that most people on this board will scoff at it. That said, here is what it can give you:

1. Organizational Skills - most Administrative Assistants (henceforth: AAs) I know just plain have their shit together, in and out of the office, for business and personal life. Constantly organizing everything for an office and handling small details and long-term calendars will do that for you.

2. People Skills - AAs are usually the front-line for cold callers, which means you'll get the good and the bad of dealing with people.

3. Perspective - I fully believe that every single human being should be forced - early in life - to work an unglamorous service position for perspective's sake. It helps quite a bit, both in terms of learning the fundamentals of business (which, above all else, means "get your job done while making the customer happy") and in learning how to deal with people on the job.

4. (Potentially) A hell of a recommendation - if you are the person who makes everything work for someone else, the person who is ahead of the game and takes care of his/her problems before he/she even realizes they exist, he/she will love you. That's love leads to the little things that makes a standard LOR into a good LOR.

Maybe you need these things; maybe you don't. But, IMO, that's what it will give you.


As someone who worked as an AA full-time for a few summers, +1 to this post. It's not glamorous, but if you're willing to learn, there's a good upside to AA positions.


I worked reception for two years answering 700+ cold calls/day. If anything, you will learn to have infinite patience. Which, for a lawyer dealing with clients, could be an invaluable skill. You also develop a powerful bullshit meter. Within 5 seconds, you will know if someone is trying to con you or sell you something.

I wouldn't call it "fun," but it certainly got me out of my college student bubble, and EVERYONE talks to the admin about their lives and jobs. +1 to gaining perspective.

I also became a whiz at fixing the copying machine. Sigh.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby Bildungsroman » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:47 am

Administrative Assistant = Secretary

HTH

Not to say that it won't be worthwhile (assuming it's a paid gig), but don't have any illusions about what the job will entail: making appointments, answering phones, booking flights for others, etc. Depending on which company/organization you work for you may meet some interesting people and learn some interesting things, but it will always be incidental to the boring administrative work that will be your job, and you will likely always be at the periphery at your work (nobody at the UN is going to be asking the administrative assistant for their input on global affairs).

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rdcws000
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby rdcws000 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:08 pm

I work for a large corporation (not the UN) but nationally recognized anyway... Administrative Assistants are secretaries, there is no concealing that, but the key is gaining exposure to the business, and believe it or not, you do this by preparing itineraries, and taking notes in meetings. Slowly as executives and managers begin to trust you, they assign you projects and allow you to help on critical initiatives, even if the scope of your involvement is quite small.

Many admins in my company go on to be analysts, managers, and executives.

This is absolutely valuable experience.

bex
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Re: administrative assistant

Postby bex » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:24 pm

If you are interested in work exposure before law school, I strongly suggest trying to find a paralegal or legal assistant job. Yes, you'll be doing a lot of drudge work, but you'll also get an inside look at the legal environment at a firm/company/corporation/nonprofit, etc. They can work long hours like attorneys, but it would probably help in the long run in making the decision of whether a legal career is for you. You'll do a lot of the same stuff as an administrative assistant, but it'll have a legal spin to it.

Good luck!




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