Here's What Makes A Great Assistant, As Revealed By Bosses & Hiring Managers
It's more than likely one of your first jobs after graduation will be some sort of assistant to an individual more experienced in your field. In order to truly make the most of your position, it's important to know what your boss is looking for in their go-to employee. To help you learn as much as you can while helping your boss, Elite Daily reached out to professionals who know exactly what makes a great assistant.
Dedicating your time as an assistant to producing great work won't go unnoticed — and you can also use your time as the right-hand man (or woman) to learn about which direction you want to take your career. It's a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in whatever field you're interested in pursuing. If you pay attention to what's going on around you, you can make being an assistant as beneficial to yourself as it is to the person for whom you're working.
One of the professionals I talked with, Melissa Cintron, a partner in the Insurance Defense and Corporate and Real Estate practice groups at Harrington, Ocko & Monk, LLP, shed some light on what kinds of qualities assistants should posses in order to succeed.
A Willingness To Learn
Cintron urges new assistants to learn as much as possible about their boss' substantive responsibilities in order to best support their higher-up. The more technical aspects of assisting your boss (like keeping track of deadlines) are important parts of being a great assistant, but you need to see the whole picture in order to be fully effective and fill in when needed.
The Ability To Take Initiative
Once you understand the work, a great assistant will use that knowledge to pitch in wherever their help is needed. Whether it's working as part of a team or going the extra mile on a project, an assistant who understands the responsibilities of the job can get to work without waiting around for instruction.
Enthusiasm and Investment In The Work
An assistant who is committed to getting the job done will, for example, stay past 5 p.m. on occasion if the work calls for it — and they care about producing good work for their boss and the clients. A great assistant is truly invested in the work being done, and they know what the expectations are.
Cintron also encourages an attitude that is flexible and open to change. You should stay versatile and expand your professional tools to continue producing quality work.
A Sense Of Self-Worth
Transitioning from school to the workforce can be tricky, and Cintron points out that young professionals should look more toward self-validation when it comes to understanding how they are progressing in their position.
Of course, you will get verbal feedback about your performance from your boss from time to time, but Cintron stresses the importance of understanding other signs of a job well done, such as being given more responsibility and growing into a more complex role. A real sense of self-confidence will come in handy as you navigate your time as an assistant.
When it comes to entry-level and intern positions, Alexa Merschel, National Talent ID Leader at PwC, knows what qualities employers are looking for.
An individual's ability to embrace opportunities and take the lead on a task is an important part of showing you have the initiative to get the job done. Merschel encourages young graduates to really sell themselves in the workplace and offer their point of view, but she also warns against stretching the truth. It's best to remain authentic while also remembering you're in a professional work environment.
A hard-working individual who isn't afraid to pitch in as part of a team is a valuable asset. In fact, building relationships is crucial to working effectively as a team. Merschel shares that when hiring managers see you've spent time as an assistant, they know you are a team player who knows how to ask the right questions and get the job done without needing too much direction.
The ability to demonstrate in your new job how your experiences have provided the groundwork for your new position is essential. Don't discount the value of your previous jobs or internships. Merschel also stresses the importance of continuing to ask questions in your new position to build your knowledge of the job. Furthermore, Merschel encourages new-hires to be curious and seek out different experiences as they move through their professional life.
You might wonder what kind of quantifiable qualities you'll need to succeed as an assistant. In an email interview with Elite Daily, Nidhee Bhatt, Information Security Technology Recruiter for the Enterprise Information Security team at Wells Fargo, shares some of the technical requirements essential to being an assistant.
Bhatt explains that possessing MS Office Suite proficiency, technical skills, and computer skills "must-haves for most openings." Bhatt also shares that clearly communicating the "skill level of the prior work experience and size of projects/tasks given that have been completed successfully" helps convey "a clear ability to multitask."
Sometimes the scariest part of a new job is the unknown, and entering into the workforce after finishing school is definitely unfamiliar territory. Thanks to the advice of these professionals, you can go into your new job with a sense of knowing what you need to bring to the table in order to be successful.