Through the years, the role of personal assistant has evolved.
Officially, a personal assistant is a person who handles the
tasks and errands that busy and successful people cannot (or
will not) take care of. He or she is employed specifically to assist
someone in his or her personal activities, schedules, and
tasks every single day.|
With changes in social, economic and working environments has come changes in the roles and duties -- and even status -- of personal assistants. Previously, personal assistants — often referred to as a Girl Friday — would only attend to very specific tasks. Nowadays however, their job description is comparable to that of a secretary, or even more. The personal assistant always has to be there, no matter where the boss or the employer goes. He or she has to be there to take care of all the things that the employer needs to have done in order to make the boss' life and working conditions easier.
To sum up, a personal assistant is someone who is trusted by the high-ranking person in the corporate world. He or she is a junior employee who — under the direction and instructions of the boss — assumes the duties and role of the chief-of-staff in any executive office or of any executive personnel.
Qualifications and Requirements for a Personal Assistant
The most important qualification needed by a prospective personal assistant is reliability. A personal assistant's employer will need to be able to lean upon the assistant at all times. If the assistant is late, or is frequently away from his or her post on frivolous matters, the employer will quickly decide that the assistant is unreliable, and will start looking for a new one. The other aspect of reliability is equally important. Not only does the assistant need to be available at all (reasonable) times, he or she must be able to perform the assignments quickly and successfully. Again, the employer will often depend solely upon the assistant to accomplish the assigned tasks on time and to meet high expectations.
A personal assistant, oftentimes, will work in different environments. For example, working as an assistant to a politician, you should expect to work both in the government offices and the personal office of the employer. A personal assistant to a celebrity would expect to work out of the celebrity's home, and would plan, organize, manage and attend various parties and social gatherings with other celebrities. Nowadays, many executives work mainly out of their own home. In these cases, the personal assistant may be asked to perform some home-related tasks as well. The days of the Girl Friday, sitting at a desk just outside the door to office of her boss is long gone. A prospective personal assistant needs to be prepared to work wherever (and often whenever) the boss decides.
Because of this, a personal assistant most definitely needs to know before hand what environments and situations he or she will be willing to work in, and which types of tasks he or she would be willing to perform. Letting a potential employer know in advance what tasks and hours you are willing to work will ensure that you don't end up in the wrong job, and will equally ensure that the employer won't be disappointed in your hiring.
Before applying for any personal assistant position, you need to remember that a personal assistant is: good in appointment and schedule keeping; fast in running errands; reliable in booking travel arrangements; skilled in bookkeeping, managing accounts and processing important paperwork; possessing excellent computer skills for creating and transmitting correspondence through email, the scheduling of tasks, typing documents, and preparing presentations; a master of language skills; excellent in managing a small office or even the household; and keen in planning and organizing meetings and other events such parties.