Isn’t it nice when everything in your office just seems to work? When meetings get scheduled well in advance, conference rooms get booked correctly, and expense reports get printed on time? When things run smoothly, it’s suddenly a lot easier for you to do your job.
Well, that doesn’t happen on its own. Behind every well-oiled office and on-time executive, there’s usually a professional who’s helping every detail fall perfectly into place.
To celebrate Administrative Professionals’ Day, we sat down with five assistants and office managers to hear more about what brought them to their current roles—and why they love them so much. While their stories will prove that there’s no one path to get to a role in administration, they will agree on a few things about such a role: You’ll never have a “typical” day—but you will have a huge impact on the operations of an entire company.
So, if you’re looking for a fast-paced job where you get to wear a lot of hats and truly make a difference (or just want to see what a day in the life of a truly stellar administrative professional is like), read on.
Office Manager, Lore
After 10 years of working as a librarian at the New York Public Library (and even managing her own branch for a portion of that time), Jennifer Knode decided to seek out something a little more fast-paced and stressful. More importantly, though, she wanted to work in a role where she could truly make a difference.
She found all that—and more—at education company Lore (formerly Coursekit). She’ll tell you the long and stressful hours definitely meet her initial job-seeking requirements, but she won’t hesitate to add why it’s all worth it: “People here are really appreciative of the things I’ve been able to accomplish and I really feel like I’ve been able to make an impact.”
As the company’s office manager, Knode helps things run smoothly for the whole team, “so that they can spend time focusing on what’s most important to their roles.” From helping with logistics on marketing projects to assisting the CEO, her daily responsibilities change daily—or even hourly—but in the end, it’s all about enabling her co-workers to get things done.
Executive Assistant and Special Projects Manager, Handybook
Coming from a line of doctors, Diana Pechter had every intention of pursuing science as a career. But after graduating from Dartmouth with a degree in psychology, she found that she was actually drawn to the fast-paced world of technology. So when she saw an open position at startup Handybook, she jumped at the chance.
And when it comes to “fast-paced,” she got exactly what she was after: Every day, she’s given a different set of challenges and responsibilities, from booking calls and conferences for the CEO to heading up her own projects, like setting up an intern program or helping with recruiting efforts.
But according to Pechter, it’s all worth it: “It’s great to come to work each day and think, ‘Wow, I’m just going to have so much to do today,’” she laughs. “It’s pretty great.”
Development Operations Assistant, Lincoln Center
With the hopes of pursuing a career in theater, Johnny Lin earned both an undergraduate and post-grad degree in fine arts—but when it was time to enter the professional world, he chose to work at jewelry mecca Tiffany and Co.
Eventually, however, he returned to the classroom to pursue another degree; this time, in public administration. Following his love for the arts, he got a temporary job at Lincoln Center—which eventually turned into the full-time position he has now.
In his role, Lin will tell you there’s no such thing as a typical day. He works mainly between two teams, managing databases, correspondence, and scheduling—but occasionally, gets to dig his hands into some big projects with other teams around the company’s campus, too.
Marketing and Sales Assistant, Artsicle
Although Cassie Sanders is an undergrad student at NYU’s Stern School of Business, she’s realized that one of the best ways to learn the ins and outs of business is to experience them firsthand—specifically, in her case, at startups.
After a few internships at other companies, she landed a part-time role at art company Artsicle via her school’s job board. Now, she not only juggles her classes and work, but a variety of social media and operations responsibilities as the startup’s marketing and sales assistant. Between updating the company’s eight social media channels, handling publicity, and responding to customers online, she stays quite busy—but does it gladly. “I like being able to switch off my school mindset and jump into a work environment.”
Operations Coordinator and National Admin/Office Management, Teach For America
Jesse Bernstein wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after graduating college, but had heard about Teach for America—so she applied and became a Pre-K teacher through the program. Later, she worked as a summer camp director and discovered her passion for directorial duties. To combine that with her first love of teaching, she headed back to TFA—but in a different sort of role.
In a nutshell, Bernstein’s responsibility is to keep things running smoothly for all the national and regional offices. But, as you can imagine, that involves quite a variety of things—from helping teachers set up their classrooms to making sure expense reports are handled to organizing conferences and board meetings. Some days are calm; some are frantic—but that’s what she loves most.