How to Make the Most out of Being an Assistant
By: Katherine Louie
Being an assistant is practically a rite of passage for anyone who wants to make it in the world of magazine publishing. Although it may not be a glamorous job, it can help prepare you for bigger and better things. Here, four ways to make the most out of your assistant experience and jump-start your career.
Create your own opportunities
Your boss will likely be invited to a lot of exclusive events and parties. These events will be packed with editors, influencers, the occasional celebrity, and young professionals looking to make their mark in the world. Attending these events will not only connect you with like-minded professionals but will help you become more vocal about your career goals.
I recently attended a rather exclusive event that I heard about through my boss. Due to a prior engagement, my boss couldn’t attend, and I very politely asked if I could go in his place. Much to my surprise, he said yes. However, this is not to say that you should ask your boss to attend every event that comes along. If you hear about an event that really interests you (that would also be a good learning experience), ask your boss to sit down with you and politely explain your reasoning. Have concrete facts that back up your request.
Don’t say: This [insert event here] looks like it’s going to be super cool! Would I be able to go?
Do say: I noticed that you were invited to [insert event here], and I was wondering if I would be able to attend this event as well. I think it would be a great learning experience for me. I’m also interested in talking to [insert name of speaker or person attending event] about the campaign/project they worked on with [insert brand name here], it inspired me lot.
Collaborate instead of compete
Working harmoniously with your peers can help you expand your horizons, forge new friendships, and push yourself into unknown territory. It would be impossible for you to reach your full potential if you closed yourself off to the ideas of others and only focused on your own ideas.
Keep in touch: Once you’ve left your first job or internship, make it a point to stay in touch with the people you worked with. It may not have been the most beneficial experience you’ve ever had, but every employer is a new connection that you can leverage in the future. The more you grow your network, the more opportunities you will have available to you. Adrianna Cicinelli, fashion assistant at Glamour, echoed the same sentiment when I talked with her on this topic. She notes, “My biggest piece of advice is to build strong relationships with your supervisors! The industry is so small and if you become close with your supervisors they can be a huge resource to you in connecting you to other opportunities, editors, and more.”
Make your ambitions known
Talking to your boss about your goals might be scary at first, but a good boss will want you to succeed and grow into your role. Most companies require you to meet with your boss once a year for an annual check-in meeting; this meeting is a perfect opportunity to talk to your boss about your career goals. If your company doesn’t require a check-in meeting, suggest one! Explain to your boss that you would benefit from a monthly (or bi-monthly) check-in meeting to review your progress.
When it comes time to have your check-in meeting, begin by highlighting a few of your recent accomplishments or a completed project you are proud of. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about a challenge you’ve faced at work and how you were able to overcome it. Talk candidly about your future and what you hope to accomplish.
Being an assistant definitely has its advantages. You are privy to a lot of inside information, which means that you are getting an unparalleled perspective of your company—and the industry as a whole. The small tasks that you are assigned, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, keep your team functioning at their very best. Colleen Kollar, a sales assistant at O, The Oprah Magazine says, “Even though you are an assistant, don’t ever think that you are less significant. Make yourself feel equal; no one else will do that for you. When you feel that you are an equal, you will have the confidence to introduce yourself to someone new or strike up a meaningful conversation with someone you admire.”
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