My Career Step: Donna Richardson

Donna's goals

  • Support her family
  • Positively contribute to her company
  • Develop skills that translate to a variety of duties and industries

Benefits of her Career Step education

  • Broaden and sharpen her office assistant skills
  • Qualification for MOS Master certification
  • Increased confidence and growth opportunities

My Journey into Administrative Assisting

Several years ago, I was working as a bookkeeper at a truck stop when my company decided to make some adjustments in job descriptions and duties. I was given three choices: step up to a new job, step down to a cashier position, or leave the company. My husband had been laid off, and since I was our only source of income, I knew my best choice was stepping up. My new job would be Administrative Manager, which sounded big and scary to me. I had an unrelated associate’s degree and had gotten the truck stop bookkeeper job by climbing the ladder up from a cashier. With much trepidation, I went to the first managers’ meeting to learn what my new responsibilities would be.

I soon realized that I had nothing to worry about. I had a few more reports to learn, but for the most part I was already responsible for many of job duties assigned to the new job title. In addition, I was thrilled to find out that I would be given a pay raise and that my store manager and restaurant manager now considered me their “right-hand woman.” I also learned that my opportunity for advancement within the company was increased due to the fact that I was gaining knowledge in so many areas of the business.

My Responsibilities as an Administrative Assistant

I discovered that my administrative job was better than any previous job I had ever worked. My mornings were spent doing the same bookkeeping duties I had enjoyed before, but in the afternoons I got to do something new every day. As my skills grew, my managers started giving me more responsibility. Usually, each new responsibility brought with it a pay raise, which was nice, but my real satisfaction came from the increased feeling of confidence in my personal and professional life that these new responsibilities brought!

Gradually, I became responsible for many different areas of our business. I found myself in charge of human resources, screening job applicants, setting up interviews for my managers, taking care of all new hire paperwork, setting up training, and doing first day orientations. I also did budget reviews and was asked to help with setting up vendors to take care of our business needs. I did reviews on our monthly profit and loss statements in addition to being responsible for research and reporting on discrepancies between budget and actual spending. It gave me great satisfaction to know that my role in the company was very important to its overall financial growth.

At one point, I was in the hospital for a few days and had to take time off work to recover. During the time I was out of the office, I fielded many phone calls from my managers, and it brought a realization of how important my administrative job was to keeping the business running.

My Administrative Assistant Job Search

About five years after I took over the Administrative Manager position, the truck stop declared bankruptcy and was sold to another company. The new company changed the employee structure, and I was laid off along with two other managers.

I went to the Utah Job Service Department in a panic. I thought I was doomed to failure in the job market because, even though I had worked many different positions in the truck stop, it had been my only full-time job in the last 17 years. My advisor sat me down to build a resume, and as I told her all of the things I had been doing for the truck stop, she smiled and assured me that my skills could qualify me for many available jobs. On my resume, we listed my job title at the truck stop as Administrative Office Assistant, and the first job search with this job title pulled up 20 job listings! I was thrilled to see that my skills could be used in multiple industries and companies that were all within 25 miles or less of my house. Within a few weeks of being laid off, I landed four interviews.

I kept in contact with the other two managers that got laid off at the same time, and I learned that they were not having as much luck getting job interviews. Within three months, I was hired as a Front Office Manager, and the other managers were still looking for work up to six months after being laid off. That information gave me a clearer picture that my responsibilities and experience as an administrative assistant had provided me with more job opportunities than I had ever imagined possible.

My job duties are now giving great customer service in my telephone skills, filing, mail sorting and delivery, data entry, and accounts payable assistant, among others. The department managers know that they can bring projects to my office, and it gives me the opportunity to work in multiple areas of the company to provide our students with the best educational advantage possible. Being an administrative assistant has been an amazing career for me, I love knowing that my daily duties are impacting the success of our school.

Skill Development as an Administrative Assistant

I have been given the opportunity to enroll in the Administrative Assistant course at Career Step. I am improving my office assistant skills in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. When I finish the course, I plan on taking the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification exams and hope to achieve the Master certification. The extra training has given me even more self confidence and increased my growth opportunities with the company.

I will never regret my career as an Administrative Assistant. It is wonderful having something new to work on each day. It is an amazing feeling to know that my daily accomplishments are a positive contribution to our business. It gives me a sense of security knowing that if I ever choose to move to a new state or—God forbid—get laid off again my skills give me openings into a variety of industries to stay in the workforce.