Women at Work: Say thank you to your administrative assistant

The nation celebrated Administrative Professionals' Day this week. Flowers were delivered, chocolate was in abundance and break rooms were chock full of treats -- all for administrative assistants.

But let's face it. A simple a "thank you" now and then probably would suffice. After all, if you have an administrative assistant, on a daily basis we send out emails on your behalf, screen your phone calls, order your supplies, handle the people you don't want to and know when your coffee cup needs refilling and that you like to heat it up 22 seconds straight out of the pot.

Of all the positions I have held, which included operations, sales and training, managing divisions and supervising people, being an administrative assistant has given me the most satisfaction. Yes, even with all the headaches, I like being an administrative assistant.

For most companies, an administrative position is classified as a starting spot. Most people, and sometimes the companies themselves, do not realize that being an administrative assistant is a career people enjoy and can excel in. We are proud of our careers, our knowledge and what we contribute. Our role is an important one, and one that often is overlooked or on the lower range of the pay scale.

Because I put in most of my work hours from home, I often am faced with sarcastically asked comments such as, "What is it that you do?" Or when I work in the office, "Oh, you do know our address!" Not funny. Oftentimes it takes all my willpower to not physically hurt the person who posed the question. But, of course, I just smile and go back to my work.


Dealing with difficult people is just one challenge an administrative assistant faces. There are many! For instance, when you work in an office full of adults, one would think they would know how to clean up after themselves. Not only do we know PowerPoint amazingly well, we also know how to load a dishwasher, empty garbage cans and shovel a sidewalk when needed. Administrative assistants can't be the only ones to know a coffee cup needs to be washed when there are furry blobs growing on it!

To many, our tasks aren't only project-based. We also are the IT specialists as well. We are expected to fix the Internet, arrange network connections, download software and update servers. These are issues we graciously tackle before going back to our filing and answering phones.

And copy machines? Yep! We can operate those with our eyes closed. And when new machines are brought in to replace the old, we will learn how to use it just as well as the one just removed. I must share a hard lesson learned so others do not go through this misery -- do not ever try to vacuum up an exploded toner cartridge! I don't need to describe how that turned out -- just go ahead and picture me covered in a black soot-like powder. Now laugh, it's OK.

And lunch? Who takes those anymore? Usually during lunch is when the toilet overflows and we need to get out the mop. Talk about appetite killer.

As a matter of fact, leaving our desk at lunchtime is dangerous; that's when new piles appear on our desk with no instruction or guidance as to what to do with it all.

I have written this column with a smile on my face because I truly know the life of an administrative assistant and love it anyway. For those of you who have one, please remember to say thank you more than once per year.

Those simple words go a long way to your multitasking, hard-working, password-keeping, coffee-pouring, problem-solving, right-hand person.

What To Read Next
Get Local