Starting From The Bottom: Being An Assistant Prepared Me For My Career
Success doesn’t magically happen overnight. It’s a combined effort of hard work, perseverance, and vision. All great leaders and influential figures such as CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, Record-Breaking Artists, and Best-Selling Authors have started in a position that rendered them with little to no status. Regardless, they were able to work their way up and establish a name for themselves.
I began my career only several weeks after graduating college. I graduated from Rutgers University on May 18, 2012. Less than three weeks later, I started my first post-graduate job as an Advertising Sales Assistant at a Publishing Company which housed one of my favorite magazine titles in the world. It was a dream-come true. My wide-eyed self was so thrilled at the ease in which I was able to land a job (let alone a job that revolved around something I loved so much) that I didn’t think twice about the reality of it. Little did I know, I would take away so much more than just “I once worked at Runner’s World Magazine!”
As a recent college graduate, I had no idea of what to expect in the “real world”. I just knew of what my college professors taught me in the classroom and what I’ve been told by my family and friends. The truth that I learned is that you never really have a complete understanding of something until you experience it yourself.
People often look down upon those who are assistants. Whether you are an assistant to a Managing Director, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief, or so on, people often think that your skills trickle down to nothing more than minuscule tasks such as sending out Outlook calendar invites, getting your boss a cup of coffee, and printing out massive copies of powerpoint presentations for large meetings. To be completely honest, these things really do happen and they are a part of your job.
Even though these tasks seem mundane and tedious, by all means, take no offense. Understand that the people you are assisting are many steps above you. They have already put in their time of being at the bottom and now have greater responsibilities to attend to. They have all started in the same exact spot that you are in, so do not be discouraged just because this is where you are right now.
I cannot emphasize enough how great of an experience I had at my first job out of college. I learned so much, worked with a wide variety of talented people, and had wonderful opportunities to travel and network with others whom I would have never had the pleasure of meeting if it weren’t for my company. However, believe me when I say that it was no cake walk.
When you are at the bottom of the totem pole, your voice doesn’t carry over quite the way that you hoped it would. You may not agree with the way certain things are done, you may get tired of the repetition, but you just have to hang in there.
I was an Assistant for a year and a half. There were many times when I became frustrated and felt like I was ready to just jump ahead already. I wanted to fast forward and be in a position where I was able to make impactful decisions and contribute my ideas to the company. But I didn’t see was the bigger picture. I didn’t understand that the tasks I was doing were actually fundamental skills that I needed to learn in order to appreciate the work that I would be doing in my future. What I learned was patience, gratefulness, and humbleness. I knew that I wouldn’t be an assistant forever. I knew that I would eventually work my way up and later be grateful for the skills that I acquired in the early days of my career.
I am currently a Digital Sales Planner at one of the most successful and well-known Publishing Companies in the world; my second job out of college. Although I’m still in the process of working my way up, I know that I am getting closer to where I want to be. I also know that I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had not started out in that Assistant role. I am thankful every day for the extremely rewarding experience that I had in my first job.
It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when the view is so far away, but trust me when I say that you can and eventually will get there. In the meantime, you do have to start from the bottom. After all, when you’re at the bottom, there is only one way to climb and that’s up.
*This article was originally published by Lindsey Lazarte on LinkedIn