Executive assistants help keep business running smoothly
Today’s executive assistants are highly skilled professionals who help hold an office together!
To keep up with changing demands in today’s business offices, Jackson College will launch a new executive assistant associate degree program in the fall. The College has long had an administrative assistant degree, which emphasizes technical and computer skills, but this new degree will add even more classes in business administration to help executive assistants provide the high-level support necessary for their employers. Executive assistants are professional-level positions who provide support for senior management and executives in almost every business type – industrial, retail, medical, legal, finance, education, hospitality, non-profits and more. Most still perform basic clerical tasks, but have added responsibilities as well. Some will train and supervise lower-level clerical staff.
“Executive assistants in today’s offices are being asked to do more and more. It’s not just answering the phone or keeping a calendar; they may be asked to sit in on a meeting or even run a meeting if their employer isn’t there,” said Assistant Professor Angel Fonseca, who previously worked as an executive assistant herself to JC’s president before joining the teaching faculty. They will often deal with confidential information, and may have authority in the executive’s absence.
For those thinking about a career as an executive assistant, good communication skills, both speaking and written, are important. Knowledge of business principles will help assist the executive – customer service, human relations, marketing, and so on.
“If you are a self-starter, dedicated to exceeding standards, love being the first point of contact, and take pride in your work, then being an executive assistant would be a good fit for you,” said Lori Mason, executive assistant to president at Stanton & Associates, Inc. and a JC alumnus. “Remember, you will literally be the glue that holds everything together. An executive assistant has to have self-confidence, a strong presence and a professional demeanor and appearance.”
Working at Stanton & Associates, Inc. – local franchisee of Wendy’s Restaurants – Mason is known around the office as the “master juggler, the gate keeper or the nucleus.” She is the “face and voice of the Wendy’s Corporate world … a less official title but one I am proud of.”
Executive assistants need to lead others with enthusiasm, possess solid leadership skills, sound judgment, integrity, resourcefulness and resilience. It helps to be able to anticipate others’ needs before they arise.
“I enjoy being the right hand person, anticipating needs and acting as a liaison between the executives and our clients. Supporting the president and the other executives in day-to-day operations keeps me energized because I am personally driven by helping people – I love being a day maker,” Mason said. “There are small and large differences we can make each day, and I believe when you are in the role of executive assistant, you will have many opportunities to make days. If you want to be a day maker, then this program may be for you.”
Demand for executive assistants is expected to grow rapidly in the next several years, with large numbers of job openings. Job growth is projected to be about 8 to 13 percent, with averages wages of about $21 per hour, or $43,800 a year.