How to Grow Your Career as an Executive Assistant

Let’s face it: growing your career as an Executive Assistant can be difficult. Unlike other professions, there is often a lack of a specific career path or trajectory to follow. Often you’ll find yourself so focused on the work of others it can be easy to feel… a bit lost.

Well, there’s good news: the Executive Assistant role is actually a treasure trove of learning and advancement opportunities.You just have to know where (and how) to look!

This was exactly the topic of our latest Base Live event, where we gleaned these essential insights from three career EAs who used their assistant positions as stepping stones to success.

Our panelists were Lindsay Robinson, a 20+ year EA who’s worked for the NBA and is currently at LinkedIn; Diana Brandl, an author, speaker, and 20+ year admin professional; and Giovanna De Beij Mazariegos, who has another 20 years of experience as an EA and currently works for Royal BAM Group – a multi-billion dollar organization.

Watch the full masterclass below – or keep reading to learn their strategies for growing your career as an executive assistant.

Build relationships relentlessly

As an Executive Assistant, you have an immense advantage when it comes to career advancement. Every day you work closely with executives and business leaders who are the movers and shakers of various industries. You have incredible access that many people would pay handsomely for!

Learn to leverage your access and relationships to reach your career goals. Don’t work within a bubble – get out from behind that desk and engage with any opportunity that might be nearby like ongoing projects, upcoming conferences, and more.

Connect with people from various levels and departments inside your company and learn what makes them exceptional. Establish relationships with your manager’s contacts. Every business card, email, and phone number is a piece of potential, buried like gold among spreadsheets. As an added bonus, establishing these relationships will also make you a more effective assistant too!

Find mentors and learn from them

It’s not just about how many people you know – it’s also about who and what you know. Try to find the right people to mentor you, and learn from their experience wherever possible.

Diana explained that associations are a great place to find a mentor: “I’ve been joining associations very early on just to find the right people to talk to… [to] find people who have been in the profession, to learn from them, to ask them to be my mentors… I think there are great opportunities for us to learn from each other.”

Giovanna agreed, and said that you would be surprised where you find mentors, if you just go out on a limb and ask. “…I also had managers who were mentors, and you might think, well, they’re busy… does he have time to talk to me? They do. Five minutes….have your pitch ready. If the pitch is right, they will give you the time.“ 

Know yourself: find your best skills and nurture them

The Executive Assistant career path can go many different ways. It’s common for EAs to move to progressively larger companies to grow their career and salary, but it’s also very common to change professions entirely based on your unique skill set. You do not necessarily need experience in a certain role to excel at it!

Start by understanding yourself – what you like to do, and what you’re good at doing. After you know that, focus on your top 3 or 4 skills and really become an expert, building more related skills from there. You’ll eventually find yourself with incredibly valuable skills and knowledge that can land you other sought-after positions, just like Linsday who jumped from EA to VP of Operations.

“…If you focus on the skills your world opens up, and that’s what I ended up doing….I ended up landing in another job supporting the founders of Team Epiphany…. I was a VP of Operations because I had all of these other things that I had done. And so think about… the things that you’re good at, you can always build on top of those.”

Practice your elevator pitch and be prepared

Being a skilled professional who is constantly around executives, you never know when opportunity may strike. It is essential that you be ready for that opportunity – whether that means going to a local conference, traveling internationally, or landing your dream job.

Diana explained this perfectly, and also challenged everyone who attended our Base Live event – and we want to extend that challenge to you too:

“There are so many assistants out there who have not found the right executives so far…. I [want] to challenge everyone out here…have your pitch ready. Know your pitch, know your elevator pitch… we pitch ourselves every single day in front of our executives, of our teams, [in front] of our different stakeholders… Train it, explore it together with a mentor because this is how you have access to new opportunities. When you know exactly who you are and what your “why” is all about.”

Use the right tools for the job

It seems like every day there’s a new tool for us to learn as assistants. Asana for project management, Google Calendar for scheduling, Trello for keeping track of tasks…. The list goes on and on.

But now, there’s a better option.

Base is the best app built by assistants, for assistants – and it has everything you need to streamline your work right in one place. Brief your executive, field emails, track projects, manage calendars – and so much more.

Grab a demo of Base today!

Written by Bryn Smith

Bryn is the Senior Manager of Brand and Product Marketing at Base, where she is on a mission to build a world-class EA community by connecting them with top-notch thought leaders, invaluable resources, and cutting-edge insights.