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What does a Personal Assistant do?

You might think that only movie stars have personal assistants, but the field has become broader than that. This is great news for those looking to break into the field, since breaking in with non-stars is markedly easier.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the field of administrative assistants, also known as executive assistants, has among the highest number of job openings. While these jobs differ from personal assistants, there are some overlaps.

Odds and ends for assistants

Administrative and executive assistants assist executives and top-level administrators; their job tasks include planning for conference calls and meetings, supervising clerical staff, reviewing/preparing memos and reports, and conducting research.

Personal assistants differ in multiple ways. For one, their jobs are usually not office-based. Instead, personal assistants will work wherever their employers need them to be. This might include an office, at home, at a party or running alongside the employer. People who hire personal assistants include music executives, high-level executives, musicians, and celebrities.

As a personal assistant, your primary job will be to keep your employer's life in order, which might include the following duties:
  • Responding to fan mail, email and phone calls
  • Booking meetings and events
  • Managing budgets
  • Writing reports or newsletters
  • Updating websites
In essence, your employer will want you to be like a second skin. But not an itchy second skin: as a personal assistant, you will need a great deal of tact and the ability to become visible or invisible at any moment.

A growing field

The field of personal assistants has grown with technology. Virtual assistants are popping up all over the Internet, allowing non-celebrities, and even non-wealthy, the personal-assistant experience. As a virtual assistant, your tasks will obviously vary from an in-person assistant, but the idea is the same: you will help your employer keep his/her life in order.

Virtual personal assistants, in many ways, act like life coaches. They might help in job searches, submit manuscripts for aspiring authors, or simply help keep up with day-to-day life.

Personal assistant dirt

The author of the 2008 book, Fame Junkies, Jake Halpern likes to dish the dirt about celebrity assistants. In a NPR interview Halpern refers to the words of celebrity recruiter Rita Tateel to sum up the life of a celebrity personal assistant: "The bottom line, she concludes, is that you need to be available to serve your celebrity's every need and above all you must banish the word no from your professional vocabulary."

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