I spent 7 years of my life pursing higher education - earning my undergraduate degree in Business Management, and my Masters in Business Administration from Southeastern University (SEU). My first job out of college fell right into my lap (almost literally). I was spontaneously contacted by an old roommate (and friend) whose mother was looking for an Administrative Assistant. After some prayer and research on the company, I accepted the position with open arms and a resolute spirit. I was determined to make the position a starting point and use it to launch my career. I was determined to climb the corporate ladder and use the new position as an Administrative Assistant as a stepping stone.
After ten months in the Administrative Assistant role, I was promoted to a Sr. Account Management Analyst. This role came with a very sizable salary increase of $20,000.
How did a 25 year old recent graduate manage to earn a $20,000 salary increase within 10 months you ask? Well, I have included a list of 7 disciplines that made a $20,000 difference. These disciplines earned me a great reputation, and multiple opportunities very early on in my corporate career. These are all disciplines that I practiced while in my Administrative Assistant role, and continue to practice to this day.
1. Beat The Day
I firmly believe that the early bird get's the worm. I was taught by a friend and mentor the invaluable importance of waking up early and "beating the day." While in the admin role, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. every morning, and would be in the office by 6:30 a.m. The first thing I would do upon arriving was check and respond to emails. I did this for a number of reasons. Primarily, I wanted everyone to know that I was extremely disciplined and took my job very seriously. I also enjoyed the peaceful solitude that getting to work early provided. I was able to prep the office appropriately by stocking the coffee station, refilling the printers with paper, cleaning up the conference rooms etc. before anyone ever arrived. More on that in a few!
2. Be Proactive
I cannot stress just how rare this trait is. Proactive people create value for themselves and very quickly become valuable assets to their team members and their leaders. The ability to troubleshoot, and meet needs before they are even needed is so astronomically valuable. I cannot adequately communicate just how far this one trait will take you! I briefly alluded to my proactive practices in discipline #1. My ability to not only anticipate needs, but meet the needs before they were even an issue was another practice that lead to my $20,000 salary increase. Initially, the leadership at my company did not notice these subtle office preparations, but I promise you they started noticing when I would take time off and things wouldn't get done nearly as efficiently. When I returned to work, I would have email upon email asking about conference rooms, and printer paper and coffee supplies. Not all of the emails were positive, but to me that didn't matter. What mattered most was the fact that they recognized that without me, these things didn't get done as efficeintly. I had created value for my position. They needed me, and being needed is good (it's all about perspective)!
3. Look The Part
Administrative Assistants in the company I worked for were not required to wear formal business attire. There was a dress code, but it was pretty laid back. In fact, the Executive Assistant to the President of the company was wearing jeans the first time that I met her. Now, I could have stayed relevant and done what everyone else was doing. I could have chosen to dress like everyone else dressed - but I didn't. I decided to go my own way and dress to impress while at work. I went out and loaded up my wardrobe with classic business attire (wrap dresses, black pumps, dress pants, blouses and blazers). In fact, my graduation gift to myself was a Michael Kors watch. A watch can make or break an outfit, and I wasn't about to do myself that disservice so I made an investment that was returned many fold! I always presented myself in a manner that encouraged coworkers and the leaders to take me seriously, because I clearly took myself seriously. I would get compliments on my wardrobe all the time. And yes, it was definitely a confidence booster!
4. Create Clear Goals
Not long into the admin position, I threw together a list of 5 goals. I will share them with you!
Habakkuk 2:2 & Proverbs 16:9
5. Work Unto The Lord
Guys, being an Administrative Assistant to VP's and Directors is NOT a glamours job. Some are easy to work with simply because they are autonomous and don't ask much of you. But others are clingy, needy, micromanaging, emotionally unstable and flat out inappropriate. Not only that, but as an admin you wear all the hats. You are security, secretary, travel agent, office manager, technician, office supply provider, and janitor all at once. I cannot count how many times I cleaned out the nasty community refrigerator at 6:30 in the morning before anyone got into the office, all while dressed in my wrap dress and 3" heels. Did I enjoy it? No. Did anyone thank me for it? No. But I did it because it needed to be done. And I did it as if God himself asked me to clean out that refrigerator! I paid close attention to detail, cleaning every nook and cranny, and I was proud of my work. The moment in my career that I decided to stop performing tasks to win the approval of others, was quite possibly the most joyous day of my life! Whether it was taking out the trash, or cleaning up the coffee station - I never cut corners. I always went above and beyond. I was happy with my work because I knew that God was happy with my work! No mans approval compares to the feeling of knowing that God is proud of you!
Ephesians 6:7 & Colossians 3:23 - 24
6. Be Flexible
No matter what your profession, the need to change and adapt to unplanned situations is key. Being rigid and unaccepting of change can lead to unnecessary stress, missed opportunities and massive failure. As an admin, I was in the business of putting out fires. In fact, that was my motto. Coordinating last minute travel plans, submitting overdue expense reports, booking last minute meetings with important clients, acquiring technology and equipment in the clutch. Those things were a part of my job, and I learned very quickly that being flexible was vital to my corporate survival (and my sanity).
7. Be A Steady Presence
When the world seems like it's falling apart (and to some people it will), your ability to remain calm and collected is a discipline that will set you a part. Being able to respond to someones urgency with calm, clear headedness is worth more than gold. Remember to remain steady in the face of seeming chaos, and maybe even add a little humor. Being a steady presence doesn't mean that you're lazy, nor does it mean that you don't take things seriously. Being a steady presence means that in the face of chaos, you choose to keep a clear head and control your emotional response. You assess the situation from multiple angles, and then work hard on finding a solution. Truly, it is a refreshing discipline to possess.
2 Timothy 4: 5
So there you have it! These are the 7 disciplines that I attribute to earning a $20,000 raise within 10 months at my first job post-grad! While I earned a $20,000 raise from practicing these habits, there is really no limit to the amount of money and success that will inevitably come when you begin implementing these same disciplines as well! The sky is the limit!
I want to hear from you! What are some of the day-to-day disciplines that have lead to your professional success? Add a comment below or contact me here!
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Stasia | Rose