Jo Gleason

Preparing for a Job as a Personal Assistant


You’ve been bartending for the past three or four months as you wait for the responses from your job applications. You just finished a degree in business from a community college, and you’re hoping to enter the corporate world by starting as a personal assistant. You’re familiar with how collaborating using solutions, like those provided by NetStandard, drive efficiency in the office environment.  But you also know that as a personal assistant you will be primarily working with a boss.

You didn’t finish your degree from an Ivy League school. This allowed you to set realistic expectations, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to fight it out to climb the corporate the ladder. You’re focused on becoming a personal assistant (PA), and you want to be a good one. What does it take to be good and survive the grueling world of a PA? Here’s what you need to think about:

An Overview of the PA Industry

As a typical entry-level post, personal assistants earn a median salary of just below $39,000 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). You have a college degree and some work experience, so you might be able to leverage that when you negotiate for your compensation package. The BLS also expects a downturn in employment, but there is some level of confidence in the market that senior executives will continue to hire personal assistants.

PA Requirements

woman in the office

Barring an ability to have a crystal ball, you’re going to have to do a lot of anticipation, multi-tasking, coordinating, etc. You would need knowledge about what the company does and what your boss does, but a lot of your success as a PA will depend heavily on specific skill sets. Let’s go over a few that you need to take note of:

  1. Communication skills. You need to be a step ahead of everything to perform well at your job. You can’t do this without having excellent communication skills. Your boss is thinking of traveling next week. Sound off immediately if there’s a conflict in his/her schedule that might have been overlooked. Inform people properly about how their agenda with your boss might be affected. Inform them about the final plans.
  2. Human PDA and organizational skills. OK, before they added the “D,” it was just that, PA. A human PA. But the “digital” part allows you higher efficiency, in terms of planning, organizing your calendar, or taking notes. Today, smartphones act as PDAs. Learn how to optimize the use of this tool to be more organized and efficient at your job. Most of the time, you are going to have to multi-task, and you would need to rely on what digital technology has to offer.
  3. Problem-solving skills. You will deal with problems like a missed flight or disgruntled and unhappy client. You need to be able to provide your boss with some support and perhaps the rest of your teammates, to find solutions to these problems.
  4. Further education. Make sure that you put on your radar the possibility of pursuing further studies. This would most likely be an MBA, or if you have other thematic aspirations in a specific field, e.g., a graduate program in marketing and communications or organizational development.

Lastly, you aren’t competing for the title of Ms. Congeniality at a beauty contest, but you might as well be. Having a positive attitude is critical even during adverse circumstances, which can include colleagues trying to bad mouth you or your boss yelling at you because you caught him in a bad mood. Look past these and focus on the work that needs to be done. It will pay dividends for when future employers try to recruit you.

Scroll to Top