7 Things You Need To Know Before Becoming An Assistant

Posted on October 3, 2017

This is a guest blog post written by Intern Queen Alumni Ambassador Allison Goldstein.

Congratulations, graduate, and welcome to the real world! Maybe you’re still a few months away from actually walking across the stage, but at this point, you’re ready to turn that tassel and land that first full-time gig. 

For those of us in the media industry (among others), that first gig is probably going to be one as an assistant. Whether you’re reporting to one associate, two directors, three VPs, or maybe an entire team, there are a few things you should know before clocking in on day one.

The devil may occasionally be wearing Prada… but follow these tips, and your Steve Maddens will carry you just as far.

  • Learn and grow! 
Like I said before, you will not be an assistant forever! Take this year (or two) to figure out what you like and don’t like about your job and/or industry. Once you’ve mastered the basics, tell your team members you’re ready for more responsibility and would love to help with a more advanced project or task. The more you can get your hands on, the better! Do your time right, and the transition into your next job will be a cinch.
  • Connect with coworkers. Networking never stops, even after you land your first job — it won’t last forever, ya know! Take advantage of all the brilliant and experienced individuals that surround you in your office on a daily basis. Ask them how they got their start and what got them into their job today. You won’t be an assistant forever, and when you’re ready to move on to your next big role, you never know who will be there to lend a helping hand.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. This one may seem a bit too obvious. But trust me, when you’ve worked a 12-hour day, a can-do spirit may be dead last on your list of priorities. Things can get pretty hectic in a fast-paced environment, but keeping a smile on your face will lighten the mood and impress your coworkers. When you work as an assistant, positivity and patience will always be rewarded.
  • Be intuitive! In 2003, Jewel told us to follow our hearts, and that our intuition would lead us “in the right direction.” (Click here for a throwback). When it comes to being an assistant, Jewel was spot on. Make observations, take notes, and always try to anticipate what you think is going to come next. When your boss is stressed and needs a last-minute prep sheet for their afternoon meeting, no response will sound better than, “Already on your desk!”
  • Prioritize!
 There may be days that you find yourself counting down the hours until breakfast, lunch, snack-time, and finally, 5:00. But on others, you’ll be so busy that you’re begging for more hours to finish that final assignment. On the crazier days, it’s important to prioritize your tasks and figure out what needs to be done. Make a list, number it, and communicate your plan to your boss. You may find out that deadline can be extended after all!
  • Ask questions… sometimes. You know what they say, ‘No question is a stupid question.’ While this still rings true for assistants, the opportunity may not always be there to pop into a superior’s office and ask. When it’s not, use your resources! You may be surprised by what you can find in your inbox, on the Internet, and maybe on your company’s shared drive from assistants past. If you can’t figure something out, jot it down, do what you can, and ask for help when the time is right.
  • Communicate! The last, but certainly (!!) not the least. As an assistant, you will probably be working as a liaison between your boss and other bosses, your team and other teams, your brand and other brands… you get the gist. The key to making sure everything runs smoothly is to communicate! Give your boss updates on your to-do list progress, and if you’re working on a project with someone else, let them know once you’ve finished your part. Remember that everyone runs on their own deadlines, and yours may not always match up so smoothly with someone else’s. Keep everyone in the know and let nothing go unnoticed.

Best of luck… I know you’ll be great!