If you want to get the most work done and find out what’s really going on in any company, don’t go to the boss. No, in most organizations, the powers behind the thrones are the administrative professionals. With job duties that range from generating crucial reports, completing necessary tasks, to dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s (and maybe even making coffee and buying gifts), admins are the beating heart of most offices.
Administrative Professionals Week is celebrated the last full week of every April. It was created in 1952 as National Secretary’s Day by Mary Barrett, who was president of the National Secretaries Association (currently known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals—or IAAP), and C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation. According to the IAAP website, Barrett and Woodbridge served on a council addressing a national shortage of skilled office workers. They originated the idea for a National Secretaries Week along with Harry Klemfuss, public relations account executive at the advertising agency Young & Rubicam.
Administrative Professionals week highlights the hard work and dedication administrative professionals bring to their careers.
The best organizations recognize the importance of admins all year round. And you admins should too. Because even if your boss doesn’t celebrate Administrative Professionals Day—or even worse, asks you to pick up your own gift—you should use this week to acknowledge your own hard work and dedication. Chocolates and roses are all good, but they’re short-lived. Here are some ways to celebrate that are more lasting and can help you ensure that your career is serving you in the same rigorous way that you are serving your organization.
Make Time For Professional Development
Whether it’s listening to a webinar on the latest advances in your company’s field, taking a weekend Excel intensive, or researching graduate schools, do something this week to move your career in the direction you want it to go. Mastering something new will give you feelings of competence and confidence. You’ll be more valuable to your employer and more marketable down the road.
Toot Your Own Horn
Are you working long hours to help your department meet a deadline? Did you come up with an elegant solution for a long lasting and thorny problem? Let people know you were the problem solver. Oftentimes employees, especially women, are too modest about their achievements because they want to avoid looking selfish or egotistical. But doing a little PR for yourself will remind the higher-ups in your company why they hired your dynamic self.
Now, you want to be subtle here; remember, you can make yourself look good without making others look bad, so calibrate your message carefully.
Set Some Career Goals
Happy in your job? Good. Now imagine yourself three to five years down the road. Will you still be happy then? If you think that answer may be no, then make time this week to do a little visioning. Where do you want to go in your working life? Is there a clear path to get there? Write down a list of steps to start you on your journey and keep the list handy. Reviewing it each week—adding new steps, crossing off the ones you have completed––will keep you motivated.
Develop a Mentor and Find Someone You Can Take Under Your Wing
A mentor is an experienced person in your field who is willing to share knowledge and talk about their own experiences. Knowing someone else’s roadmap to success can help you plan your own.
Mentorship relationships can be casual—occasional phone conversations or lunches—or they can be more formal and set up through networking organizations in your field. Look for a person who you respect and whose career you would like to follow. Look for someone you “click” with, and be mindful that they are donating their own time and talent to your success.
By the same token, remember that it is valuable for you to act as a mentor as well. Sharing your knowledge with someone else can solidify that knowledge in your own mind and give you a fresh perspective on your own work. You never know who will be a valuable contact down the line; creating mentorships now to expand your professional network is a solid investment in your future.
This one’s easy: get a massage, book a pedicure date with a girlfriend, go for a long hike on a beautiful trail—whatever hits your personal reset button—carve out some time this week to do it.
Athletes know that rest is one of the most important parts of their training regimens. As someone who brings their best game every day to the workplace, you should make sure that you are also putting your all into managing the day-to-day stresses that come with modern jobs. So take some time to relax and celebrate all you have accomplished—and recharge so you can accomplish even more.
Miriam Wolf is a Portland-based wellness coach and writer, and is the editor of The FruitGuys Almanac Newsletter.