Education on Your Company’s Dollar?

Many companies offer employees some sort of training and/or education benefit. Generally these benefits are granted either after a certain amount of time of service with the company and/or provided that the coursework is relevant to the job.

These opportunities are often passed up by employees for a variety of reasons, but the importance of utilizing these opportunities should not be overlooked.

In the administrative profession, the range of skills needed on a daily basis to perform at competent level allows for a wide-range of course options that would fall under the “coursework relevant to the position” definition. What about taking on Spanish? Or Chinese? Project management courses? Desktop publishing? As the world becomes more globally aware, the corporate world is doing so at light speed. Making yourself a valued worker is vital as the US economy begins to slow, and the role of the administrative professional continues to morph.

For me, I’ve always put training, development and education at the forefront of my interview questions because it usually relays how serious the company is about development for all staff, not just management. Of course, there is an implicit agreement, and sometimes stated policy in place to ensure that employees don’t use their upgraded knowledgebase to bolt for another company or better paying position.

This Saturday, I’ll depart for my first major conference dedicated to the my career as an administrative professional. The International Association of Administrative Professionals Conference and Educational Forum, being held in Reno, NV. I’ll be networking with over 2000 of my peers, some from within my very own Capital Chapter, and attending sessions directly related to my current job. These sessions will include project management, budgeting skills, lease reviews and skills for training other professionals.

I hope to be able to blog about my convention experience while I am there and also share some of the new and cool stuff I will be learning.

More from the road..

Thanks to my current employer for providing me this opportunity and investment in my career development.

Devil Wears Prada? And they are just now noticing?

Wow.. How is it that two months have passed since I wrote? That old commercial where it is stated, “Life comes at you fast..” is so true this Spring/Summer. I digress..

Just went with a friend to see the Meryl Streep movie, The Devil Wears Prada. I never read the book, so I was going in with a different perspective than my friend who’d read it.

First off.. I could not watch it without looking at it from the Admin’s perspective. As a member of International Association of Administrative Professionals, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to bosses.

For those who don’t know anything about the movie… it’s about a recent college grad with a journalism degree. She takes a temp job at this fashion magazine as an assistant, basically to “take a job that pays the bills.” She ends up working for a brutally insensitive and demanding fashion editor that (after one year, if she can survive) will open doors to any journalistic career she may want.

Throughout the course of the movie, we see what the character sacrifices for her “career opportunity”. I suppose this is where it chafes me. Perhaps it is a little too close to home reminding me of some bosses and tough working-world lessons I have experienced.

The movie character, Andy, goes through quite the administrative admin initiation, including the makeover to fit in, and the condescending rebukes from the current veteran admin (albeit- one year on the job) in the office, and a great scene that shows the petty and mostly absurd demands made by the boss.

What I noticed immediately, is that no one in the company makes any effort to help the temp. (Ever been guilty of that?) Two of the tools for success for this admin do end up being used by the character. For me, they are the cellphone and notebook.

While many of us have had the experience of working for difficult bosses, we now have had the benefit of maturing past the initial phase of “why doesn’t my boss like me, recognize how hard I’m trying”, self-pitying initial reaction to working with a tough and demanding boss.

Some (not me, unfortunately) were lucky enough to be born with a thick skin. The one guy that ends up helping Andy – states the obvious but difficult truth.. we are being paid to do our job and THAT is what bosses expect from us. Period.

I had a position several years ago that highlighted how my unrealistic expectations could cripple my professionalism, if I let it. And realizing I was already on that beam, chose to move to a different corporate culture. It was, and still is, MY responsibility to realize I was not a good fit, instead of expecting my boss to change because I had been an admin all these years and had years of experience.

This really shows in this film. This poor college grad has no idea of corporate America, what it takes to be an admin to a high-powered executive, the personal sacrifice, the demands, the fine-line personal boundaries. So for me, it is a fine reminder that I don’t care to work for a high-powered and demanding executive. My kudos come from within… not from the boss and the entire corporate staff to stand up and shout from the hilltops.. “Isn’t she an amazing assistant?” Because, we all know.. it most likely isn’t going to happen.

But, we can and we should, shout it to one another… support one another (even that temp that is wearing flip-flops). Who else is going to share the knowledge and encouragement (and perhaps kind workplace fashion advice) in our profession?

It’s up to us.

What I know that I don’t know-credit Peter King, SI

What I know.. that I don’t know. I credit Peter King, writer for Sports Illustrated for today’s comment style. Check him out on SI.com and you’ll understand.

The key here is to acknowledge the rapid impact of technology on the admin profession and to talk about the technologies in which I am not well-rounded.

First,
Ahh.. the Blackberry. Yes. I know how to purchase one and how to hand it over to the IT guys to get it to be compatible with a PC. In reality, I should know how to do it myself. Although I do know how to go to the service provider site and empty the mailbox to make room for more emails.

Second,
Podcasts/I-Pod. Oooh.. I’m really showing my age. But I am bound and very determined to learn more about business podcasts and more about download technology for MP3 files. etc.

Third,
Web Design.. Now.. this is really a bit much. So I am taking action on this one. I firmly believe all admins should have a basic idea of how to set up a webpage and post it. I’m starting my class tomorrow with a fine person that sets up my daughter’s school webpage.

Fourth, Adobe Acrobat. This is crucial to the still popular company newsletter. My previous supervisor was a MASTER of this software. Too bad I didn’t get a chance to really learn from her. To see her work, go to www.coreocean.org and see the weekly newsletter they post. It’s impressive.

So, it’s important to know what things we need to improve upon and more important to take action. My next step is to prioritize the learning list and conquer those items. Then I can go to my next list.. which I’ve already started.

What’s on your list? Is there a knowledge gap at your office if someone is out ill? Web-meetings? Setting up Videoconferencing? Developing Office Manuals? How about setting up LCD projectors? . That one is not so hard to do.

I’d love to hear about them. Please share!



Damn the Stereotypes, say I.

http://www.slate.com/id/2140546/
Credit: By Melonyce McAfee

This is definitely not the way I see Administrative Professionals Day. Aiyee! I say.. woman! Get thee a life!

Ok.. what is up with this gal? In this day and age of gluttonous executive buyouts/golden parachutes.. what’s not to enjoy if the company splurges on roses or lunch. Professional means that you are civil and mature about the overture irregardless of the awkwardness that your boss may not speak to you the rest of the year.

But what I really see here.. is the stereotype. Seeing secretaries (or admins) as fetch the coffee, answer the phone types. I’m just as guilty of stereotyping as the next person when it comes to dealing with my peeve of admin types (the type that decorates their cube with too much cute crap and three bowls of candy).

The point is.. what is the workload accomplished? Is it labeling and stuffing 300 envelopes so the rest of the office doesn’t have to.. , collating 70 copies of a 5 section, 100 page document because the admin just got the document and the print-shop.. no can do? Is it the small task of remembering.. that you (the snarly associate) prefers aisle seats and non-smoking Westin rooms when booking travel..
It’s the little things and a million of them .. administrative professionals do right every day because that is what we are compensated to do.

You know what? I’ll take the roses, the lunch, the cake.. and if the rest of my peers are not acknowledged.. they have only to look in the mirror.. In this field, Attitude is Everything… maybe this writer should take a look at hers.

(Whew! I feel much better!)

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!!!!

Here’s wishing all administrative professionals.. a wonderful day, Wednesday, April 26, 2006.

Here’s what I’m wishing for each and every one of us…
1. Respect from our peers and supervisors
2. Some recognition of this day.. even if it is just a pleasant comment from a co-worker
3. Energy and inspiration to continue to be the backbone of corporate America

Take a moment today.. Acknowledge the many things you accomplish in one day… make a note of one thing you’d like to improve… and email or call a fellow admin to wish them a great Administrative Professionals Day.

I’m proud to be one.. and we truly are the backbone of corporate America. Stand proud.

67 Admins and a Cruise-No..not a song title..

I just returned home from the 3rd annual Capital Chapter- IAAP Administrative Professionals Week (APW) cruise.

Man! I am beat. But it’s from the buzz-energy letdown. Nothing like being around 67 of your peers, comparing and contrasting job responsibilities as well as companies. I’m fascinated by the LOYALTY these folks show to their company. Many folks had more than 15 years at the same firm. Not that I advocate otherwise, but in this day and age, I believe admins that take on more responsibilities, learn new software, invest more in themselves, sell themselves short by staying at the same company for more than 5-10 years. This only my personal perspective from working in the DC Metro area.

DC Metro is one of the most competitive and prosperous workforce arenas for administrative professionals. CEOs, VPs and other power level types are always on the lookout for a way to distinguish themselves from their peers. What makes their company better or their organization more efficient? Could it be their administrative support staff? My personal conviction is that companies that don’t invest in their admin staff, reap what they sow.

Taking Responsbility

Not so fast though.. In today’s corporate society -do you really expect the company to make the decision that they will invest in the administrative support staff a part of their strategic goal plans, short or long term? A small percentage of companies are truly loyal to dedicated long time staff. W
ake up.. and smell the coffee. Inherently, it is the individual’s responsibility to communicate what they need to be successful and happy at a company, whether it is increased pay or flex-time, etc..

Will another company be the solution? Think long and hard.. and make good lists for pros and cons before you turn in your keycard. Make certain your expectations are realistic. (Of course, this applies to outside our workworld, too.)

Early in my administrative career, I lacked the maturity to ask the right questions and really look at the position, not personalities. I sought a promotion to another department, received it and three months later came crawling back to my boss, asking if I could have my old department job back.

My issue? Trying to get away from personalities on the job rather than approaching it as a professional position meant that my problems traveled with me from one position to the next. Until I learned with great humility that jobs are jobs, keep my personal life out of work and do the job for which I was hired. Some bosses will cut slack.. but many won’t. Make certain the reasons for changing positions are fact-based and well researched.

DC Metro is an area with a vast need for qualified, responsible admins…Keep this thought handy when you realize you really cannot go in to your office another day.. Cut the dread short..and look at the options DC Metro provides.

Lastly, as I think about the many folks I met today, I pondered the role of personal responsibility each of us has in progessing in our career field of choice. The cruise left the dock, toured and returned to the dock. It was my responsibility to get up, get a plate from the buffet, eat, network with peers and resolve a few treasurer duties. It was up to me to get the most for my ticket money. Same goes for my career. I invest my being every workday. I can sit at my PC and zone out when I am bored or I can take time to help others in my office, or better yet… focus on the background work I need to do. I feel better at the end of the day. No resentment about my co-workers or boss develops… simply because I take charge of my day.. and my workday.

And to all my fellow cruisemates- Happy Administrative Professionals Week. Don’t put your life on cruise-control.. take the wheel and turn in the direction that leads you to a happy career.

A Day in the Admin Life

Typical Day….. in the admin life
I thought it would be a good opportunity to kind of check in on the typical task-filled day. Here’s what was on my list today.

  • Follow up on A/R
  • Seek out vendors for cubicle panels
  • Customer Service tickets follow up, including webmeeting and calls
  • Find restaurant and schedule reservation for luncheon for a staff member’s send off party
  • Order supplies for two new staff members
  • Request IT equipment and additional network cords
  • Update new client and contact information in database and contacts system
  • Review project list with one of our project managers to make certain our client is receiving followup and communication on tasks as they are resolved
  • Attend staff-wide projects meeting
  • Search internet for going away gift for staff member leaving
  • Reschedule marketing meeting to review new tradeshow exhibit design
  • Pull promo catalog items for tradeshow order
  • Start gathering information and set up for the company newsletter for this quarter..
  • Contacted Assoc. of Professional Office Managers for vendor resources
  • Make list of client admins – I want to send them an acknowledgment for Administrative Professionals Day. (4/26/06)

.. I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one or two things ..but you get the gist.

What about you? If you take the time to jot a list of what you accomplish .. it’s a good feeling to validate why you are tired after your workday..but also to say, “Hey! I got alot done today.”

And you know what? I did get alot done today. Tomorrow’s Friday.. Yeah!