Jennifer Smith is the inspirational Chair of the Charity PA network and EA to the Chief Executive of Power2 the leading children’s and young people’s charity. Meetingsclub is delighted to share Jennifer’s exclusive blog on how she became a top EA and how a career in retail wasn’t for her.
In past blogs I’ve given advice on dealing with difficult bosses and encouraged you all to step outside your comfort zone. This time I thought I would share my journey in the hope you find it encouraging to know you are not alone and maybe even a little inspiring.
I’m one of the few that did not set out to be an EA. In fact, if you had asked me when I was 20 what an EA did, I wouldn’t have had an answer.
I started working in retail but knew my future did not lie there, I hated the working hours. So, I set my sights on a career as an office worker. Yes, I was that vague. To make this happen, as I really didn’t have the relevant experience, I volunteered part time in an office to gain that all important experience. This meant working 6 or 7 days per week as I already had a full-time job in retail. I would volunteer on my days off whenever they occurred on a weekday.
It was worth it.
This voluntary position lead to a full-time post as a team administrator. The employing manager took a chance on me, he saw my potential and hunger to succeed. I hope he feels the risk was a complete success.
I then spent a few years honing my craft and learning about the various office roles and became attracted to the position of EA. I started focusing on this area, building my skill set and confidence in multiple areas.
However, after 5 years in the role I was wondering ‘what next’. I had been surrounded by people saying you can’t be an EA forever, what career do you want.
At the five year point I was thinking I’m good at this but I need to find something else. Thankfully I was then enlightened. A new colleague joined my company as a fellow EA, they were talking about development opportunities and networking. I was confused at first but then she dropped the bombshell ‘being an EA is a career and one she had chosen.’
This completely changed my thinking and focus. I now focused on being an EA (something I loved and was good at) and developing a full range of skills. The networking opportunities are incredible; as the community I was now a member of were so supportive and willing to give back.
Why does this all matter and what can you take away from this. Follow your heart and don’t let anyone stand in your way. Take opportunities when they come up and if you have a passion for your career path back yourself to succeed.
Our profession is built on support so don’t forget to support your colleagues at all levels and sometimes you just need to take a chance on someone that has a passion.
Power2 delivers programmes which develop crucial life skills for children and young people, helping improve confidence and boost self-esteem. Working with children and young people at key transition points, the team at Power2 look beyond the problems young people face and focus on their true potential, nurturing the assets, talents and abilities of all. https://www.power2.org/
The Charity PA Network (CPN) helps to raise the profile of PAs and EAs working specifically in the Charity and Third Sectors. CPN encourages networking and development amongst peers, creating a supportive community of like-minded individuals. Follow CPN on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharityPANet