7 Keys to Success as an Administrative Professional

by Leilani Haywood

Several administrative professionals offered this insight on IAAP’s Facebook page which I thought should be in an article. The administrative professional responsibilities have changed dramatically over the last 10 years. When asked, “What advice would you give to someone starting as an administrative professional,” they shared these keys which can apply to any profession.

Learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep asking,” says Jean Cusato Cocco, CAP-OM, executive assistant at Fresenius Medical Care North America. Cindi Gadiel McGinley, agreed saying, “Don’t be afraid to ask—it’s easier than making a huge mistake and keep learning.” McGinley is an administrative assistant at Langan Engineering & Environmental Services in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Take advantage of training opportunities even if you may not use it in your current position,” added Kimberly J. McAninch, a former administrative assistant at Arcadia US in Boynton Beach, Florida. “Embrace every opportunity to learn something new—invest in education,” says Marva Brown, CAP, in Washington, D.C.

Network. “Build a network of people; be nice to everyone (you don’t have to be their friend) you never know when you might need their help,” says McGinley.

“Build relationships and understand what the goals are and what you can do to support them. Look for and jump on all opportunities to demonstrate where you can add value,” stated Lori Summers Ford, CAP-OM, Atlantic Lottery Corporation in New Bruswick, Canada.

Volunteer. “Go to every committee meeting you can, you gain a ton of knowledge listening and observing,” Kim Diana, CAP-OM, executive assistant to the provost at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

Dante Kelly, administrative secretary at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland agreed saying, “Volunteer part-time or on an on-call basis in an office setting or on projects. People underestimate volunteering as a way to ‘test the waters’ with a career choice. Volunteering can be very helpful. I’m living proof of that and that’s why I love being an administrative professional.”

Use technology to your advantage. “Embrace technology to maximize productivity and for the prioritization of tasks,” says Ford.

Have a professional demeanor. “Always be professional,” says Jacqui Prospero, CAP-OM, executive office administrator in Ontario, Canada. “It will guide you.”

Know what’s happening in your office or company. “Grab a copy of ‘Managing Up.’ Be independently resourceful. You don’t need to memorize everything—you just need to know where to look to find the information you need. It’s not good enough to be aware of what’s happening around you; you have to know why it’s happening,” says Emily Faith Scully, City Clerk at City Hall in Portland, Maine.

Have confidence and accept criticism. “Accept critique as a learning tool,” says Brown. Carlas Claxton, administrative assistant at Edwards Airforce Base, says to have confidence and assurance that you can perform the administrative task. “Don’t be hard on yourself if you know you are doing your best,” added McAninch.

What would you add to this list?

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