How to become an Office Secretary? Career Builder videos from funza Academy
August 23, 2019
Companies are of 2 types:
Manufacturing and Services Manufacturing companies make products such
as furniture and cars. And examples of services companies are hotels,
banks and hair salons. A Company in turn has various departments.
And some departments are unique. For example kitchens are unique to hotels so you will
not find them in banks. But some departments are common across companies.
One such department is the administration department and one such job category is that
of a secretary or administrative assistant. This role came into existence long ago, due
to a need for responsible people, who could act as assistants for VIP’s
Secretaries were educated people who took notes and often acted as trusted advisors.
They also knew how to speak and write many languages.
Today, secretaries are using computers, the Internet and other advanced office technologies
to perform important functions in different companies.
Before I continue, I want you to know that secretaries are also known as administrative
assistants, office coordinators, executive assistants, office managers, and various other
titles. What does a Secretary Do?
A secretary can have different duties depending on where he or she is working.
In general they are responsible for keeping offices running smoothly by performing these
tasks: • Answering telephone calls.
Secretaries are often the first people customers speak to when phoning a company.
Thus good manners and courtesy are key factors here
• Sending and receiving emails. Secretaries send mails to staff members as
well as customers. Such tasks require you be familiar with computers
and business communication. • Creating and organizing filing systems
This task requires you to keep track of invoices and other official documents.
• Scheduling meetings Secretaries are responsible for sending meeting
agendas and ensuring that meetings run smoothly. They book meeting venues, ensure that attendance
is taken and projectors and other devices are in working order.
• Receiving visitors In smaller companies a secretary may be involved
in this task too. • Personal Assistance
Many senior executives and leaders have dedicated secretaries.
In such cases the focus is totally on the management of the leaders work day.
These could be high paying jobs but are demanding and involve long hours. So what does it take to work in this area?
You should have good communication skills. Customers may meet you before anyone else,
so you must be courteous and professional in manner and presentation.
In most cases you will work independently. Thus you should be organized and be able to
work effectively under stress. Now, let us look at some of the technical
skills needed: You should have a good command over certain
computer applications such as: a. Excel
b. Word and c. Outlook
Lots of companies are using social media to communicate with customers and thus it is
important to be aware of such applications. And you certainly should be comfortable using
the internet to search for information when needed.
Given the time you will spend talking to customers, professional Telephone Manners and Skills
are a must. A lot of your communication will be via e-mail
hence you should have good business writing skills. Your typing speed and accuracy are
also important factors. Given these requirements, a secretarial or
Office administrator course is recommended. Typically this is taken after metric or grade
12. Apart from giving you the above skills such
courses also include additional topics such as Entrepreneurship which is strongly recommend. Now imagine yourself as an office administrator.
What are some of the joys and challenges of your job?
Let’s start with the joys. Firstly this job allows you to work across
different industries. This increases your job opportunities.
In many ways you are the face of your company. You interact with most people in the company
and also your customers. Many office administrators enjoy this part of their job.
You job generally gives you time to study. I strongly recommend you to take advantage
of this aspect. Use any free time to enhance your knowledge.
If you work for an insurance company, try to understand their business. This information
will surely help. Let me conclude this section with a short
story. A person we interviewed always wanted to be
an artist but circumstances prevented her from becoming one. Today she is an office
administrator and her job involves interacting with students. Sometimes students send her
drawings and she enjoys spotting talent and advising those students on how to develop
it further. It is the nature of her job that makes this
possible. You may deal with difficult people on a day
to day basis. This can be stressful. Many people I spoke to said that they do not
get any training from their companies and thus they have not learnt anything new in
ages. Please do not let this happen to you. Today many organizations offer free courses
online so do them when you have the time. Lastly this job involves tasks that can be
repetitive. For example, fetching the post on a day to day basis or answering calls.
But again, repetitiveness occurs to a degree in MOST jobs. There is always a need for administrative
support in organisations, big and small. Thus keep refining your skills and always
try to learn new ones. I would also suggest that you learn about
the business you are working for. In larger organizations office administrators
become team leads after a few years and finally can end up as office managers. In this role,
you would usually lead or manage a team of secretaries or administrative clerks.
Diversification into other roles is always a possibility. I personally know of office
administrators who have become soft skill trainers and business analysts. The key HOWEVER
is to learn about the business.