Westmeath Independent

Published: Friday, 3rd July, 2009 2:00pm

Career Spotlight - Personal Assistant

Every manager needs a good PA, recession or not, and there are plenty of jobs out there if you know where to look. Sarah King started her career on a temporary contract and now works full-time at a large investment bank in the City.

1.How did you become a PA?

Initially I got a temporary contract at an investment bank through a recruitment consultant. They renewed my contract and after that I got a full-time job with a different bank.

2.What does a typical day involve?

Once I get in I read my boss"s emails and diaries and figure out what needs to be done. There"s a lot of arrangements to be made - taxis, meetings, travel. I"ll also sort out his expenses and make sure they get paid, as well as talk with clients and take messages.

3.What skills do you need to be a good PA?

Typing is really handy, of course, as is shorthand. Computer skills are a definite essential, as is a good telephone manner. It really depends on the job - certain companies might require a really fast typist or someone with good computer Word skills, for example.

4.Who would enjoy being a PA?

You definitely need to be really organised and know how to prioritise. It helps if you can juggle a lot of things at once because the job requires a lot of multi-tasking. Things can get really stupidly busy so you need to keep calm under pressure.

The best PAs are really quite intelligent and know how to deal with people. You have to be nice all the time, to speak with confidence and to come across well - on the phone and in person.

5.What are the perks of the job?

The money! You can get awesome perks but it depends on your boss - some people get bought huge presents at the end of the year! Then there"s the company you"re working for and the people you get to meet in your job. If you like the office environment, you"ll enjoy the camaraderie with the other secretaries and it can be really sociable.

6.What are the downsides to the job?

You sometimes get people talking down to you, but you get over this by remaining professional. If you"re under pressure and you have a nasty, stressed out boss, that"s no fun because you"re always the first person to get it in the neck! If you have a good boss, then it can make all the difference. You need to figure out how they work and how they want you to work and strike up your working relationship from there.

7.Have you been affected by the recession?

It hasn"t really affected me. Once you"re an experienced PA, you can really be a PA to anyone. I don"t have to stay in the financial sector, but even then, people still need PAs in the City!

8.What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a PA?

Go through recruitment agencies because it"s very difficult to get a job on your own. If you choose a good agency, they"ll do the hard work for you and choose the right job for you. They"ll find a job that suits your personality and what your skills.

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