If you’ve been scared away by the word “assistant” in the title or visualizing a woman handling phone calls and fetching coffee…don’t. An executive assistant in the 21st century is less Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) from Devil Wears Prada and more Donna Paulsen from the TV series Suits.
EA’s provide high-level administrative and strategic support to top executives in a company. They make a career of juggling tasks for the powers that be, freeing up precious time for the executives, and making their lives infinitely easier.
While some of their day-to-day tasks might include clerical work like managing calendars, setting up appointments, booking flights, etc, they mainly act as the right hand of some of the senior-most staff in an organization and even act as their mouthpiece in certain situations.
Today, EA’s also analyze documents, prepare reports, assist with research, and also supervise other clerical staff members. They are the military generals manning the helm so that the ship runs smoothly. It’s a strategic role that requires significant understanding of how businesses are run.
Skills and Education Needed to be an Executive Assistant (EA)
The good part about working as an EA is that there’s no strict education qualification.
List of Skill Set Required For Being an Executive Assistant (EA)
- Grasp of grammar
- Communication skills (written and verbal)
- Technological savviness (comfort level with a smartphone and a laptop)
- Problem-solving skills and coordination abilities
They should be comfortable with tools like Microsoft Office, know how to use email, and understand productivity apps like Slack, Trello, etc.
As an EA, you get to interact with a lot of top-level executives and see things from a CEO’s perspective. You become familiar with roaming around in corridors of power, and this can open further opportunities.
A lot of EAs today freelance between different clients and some of them also do it remotely. This means higher flexibility of time, which is probably why the career attracts a lot of women looking to juggle work with a young family.
Eligibility Criteria to Become an Executive Assistant (EA)
+2: No restrictions. Students from all three streams (Science, Commerce, Arts) are eligible.
Bachelor’s: A bachelor’s degree which touches subjects like Finance, Administration, Management, etc, are preferred.
Master’s: An MBA is preferred, though not mandatory.
A Day in the Life of an Executive Assistant (EA)
Hi, I’m Trisha, and I freelance as a virtual EA to 2 clients in the US. I have a Masters in Finance, but when I had my baby, I quit my high-paying career job for something more flexible. Thanks to my previous contacts, I found a few clients who needed an EA but only for a few hours a day.
This is what a typical day for me looks like:
9:00 AM: My client Sandeep in San Francisco wants a quick call before he heads for dinner. He is flying for a conference in Texas for a week and needs all arrangements done for him and his team. I make a note and make sure the travel desk takes care of it on priority.
11:00 AM: I finish verifying the flights and hotels for Sandeep and his team, and the transportation to-and-from the airport as well as from the hotel to the conference venue.
I compile all the bills and send to the accountant for review and reimbursement as well as drop a Skype message to Sandeep about the update. I make sure all of this information is fed into his calendar so that he doesn’t have any problems on the day of travel.
Lastly, I draft an email in his inbox, cc’ing everyone who is travelling with him about the arrangements. When Sandeep gets a chance, he’ll see his drafts, make any changes he wants, and then email to his team.
12:00 PM: My second client is in Arizona, and he needs two data entry people based out of India to do some clerical work for him remotely. I sit down and chart out the roles and responsibilities of the two people, and have a quick call with Human Resources regarding compensation.
Then I prepare the Job Description for the opening, and upload the requirements on various hiring websites. Tomorrow, I’ll start reviewing and shortlisting the applications that are coming in, and then set up an interview time.
2:00 PM: I finish lunch, and prepare a snack for the evening.
3:00 PM: I go through my inbox, and set up some meetings for both the CEO’s, and feed this information for their clients. Sandeep needs a brief bio set up for every client he meets with so that he has some background about the person he’s pitching to.
I make sure all of these dossiers are set up on Google Sheets at least two days prior to an appointment.
4:00 PM: I check Paul’s inbox for any urgent messages and draft responses to a few standard emails. Paul, too, will go through my responses, approve them, and hit send. This saves him precious minutes thinking and typing responses to standard emails.
5:00 PM: I had participated in a three-way Skype call yesterday with Paul and another client. I finish reviewing my notes of the minutes of the meeting and send an email to all the stakeholders about the next steps from each side.
6:00 PM: After feeding the both of us, I check my to-do list for any pending tasks and notice I’d forgotten to check the CRM for Paul. Paul runs a consulting firm and uses a tool called Streak to manage potential clients.
The CRM marks lead into various buckets and remind us of pending actions and follow-ups. I go through the actions due for today and act accordingly.
7:00 PM: I make two separate lists for Sandeep and Paul about their important to-dos for the day and email it to them so that they have it ready as they start their day. It is my job to anticipate their day and everything they will need to face it.
Did you like my profession? Do you think you are capable enough to manage the day-to-day stuff? We hope this article proved to be a fruitful one for you. Have your say in the comment box below! Enjoy Reading!