I got started in the administrative profession before I even knew what it was. My very first job was in an optometrist’s office at the age of 16, when I thought I was a receptionist. It was not until I was putting together my first real, professional resume that I realized “Administrative Assistant” had a much better ring to it—and was the correct label for my role.
I was managing customer service, providing reception assistance, maintaining patient records, bookkeeping, organizing insurance claims, streamlining operations, and so much more. But everything I was doing could be summarized as administrative work.
When it came time for me to leave my seat at the front desk of that office to head off to college, I learned an important lesson. I realized how important administrative professionalism is in any workspace. I would say that admin work lays the foundation for any other type of work to occur in an office. I gained the understanding that without administrative professionalism, the workplace cannot function in a stable, reliable, or efficient manner. This is why I appreciate administrative professionals so much now, because we do so much!
This is also why I try to be as pleasant as I can in my interactions with those I meet whenever I go to a front desk now—whether I am checking into a hotel, filling a prescription at the pharmacy, or returning an item at a customer service station. I believe the purpose of administrative professionalism truly lies in two simple but important goals: to make life easier and to help people.
I went from working at the doctor's office to being on the management teams at my college’s library and their office of accessibility services, to working in the State House in Boston, Massachusetts, to managing the communications and marketing at a number of different nonprofits. However, I still reference the lessons I learned at that very first job, and I still continue to perform administrative tasks to this day.
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