What’s Next? Exploring the Executive Assistant Career Path

Do you love the Executive Assistant role, but feel like you are hitting a ceiling in your growth, responsibilities, or compensation? Are you thinking about what might come after your current job? Are you unsure how to continue to grow your Executive Assistant career?

Don’t get me wrong, the executive assistant role is a dynamic, interesting, impactful, and fulfilling career in its own right. However, there may come a time when you want to start exploring other career options. And that’s great! Read on to explore different Executive Assistant career paths and how you can determine your next right career move.

How to Determine If It’s the Right Time to Make a Career Move

There is no one right time to make a career change, but there is a right time for you. It is a very personal decision that requires you weigh many different variables from financial obligations to career satisfaction to debt and savings to your support network to your stress-levels and mental health to your schedule.

Here are a few questions to get you started thinking about whether or not now is the right time for you to change jobs, careers, or leave your role all together for self-employment:

  • Why do you want to make a change?
  • What is missing from your current role?
  • What would have to change for you to reignite your commitment to the Executive Assistant role?
  • Is it possible to achieve that within your current role or company? What have you tried so far?
  • Are you in a stable financial and emotional position to make a change? If not, what would need to happen to get you there so you could confidently make a change?
  • What’s most important to you in your work? Are you looking for a specific company, career, projects, leader, schedule, culture, compensation, or industry? Which one or two of those items are at the top of list?

Take some time to answer the above questions and see what shows up for you. Schedule conversations with your Executive or HR department as needed. And, remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Make sure your are thoughtful, thorough, and honest with yourself about what you need and what you’re willing to do to get there before you choose a different path.

Take Inventory of Your Natural Behavioral Style, Skills, and Goals

If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times… self-awareness is the secret to success. If you are committed to making a career change, are you clear about what you want to do next? Do you know what the next right career move looks like for you? Take some time to answer the following questions and take inventory of YOU:

  • What projects/tasks come easily to you? Which ones do you really enjoy?
  • What questions do people typically ask you?
  • What are your unique skills, strengths, and specialties?
  • How do you like to work? Where do you like to work?
  • What does your ideal daily and weekly schedule look like?
  • What does a successful employee/employer relationship look like?
  • What are your goals for the next 12 months? The next 3 years?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What value do you (or could you) offer to the world?
  • What activities energize you?
  • What perceived weakness is really your superpower?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? What activities did you enjoy as a kid?
  • What is your deepest desire?
  • What problem in the world do you want to solve?

Grab your laptop or a journal and answer these self-inventory questions. They will start to give you clues about what you enjoy, what comes naturally to you, and the unique value you can provide to your family, your community, and your future employer. Did anything surprise you when you answered these questions? Did any patterns emerge?

Think back to how you started your career in the Executive Support space. What initially drew you to the role? Is it time to move on or is it time to reignite that passion you felt when you first started your career? What was happening in your life, at your company, or with your leader during that time? How can you recreate that energy and environment in your current or next position?

Common Executive Assistant Career Paths

Executive Assistants are in an uniquely advantageous position to get a first-hand look at all the roles and responsibilities within a company. EAs collaborate with stakeholders from all across the organization, often organizing cross-collaborative events and communication with other team members, or liaising with senior leaders from various departments. Executive Assistants may even be asked to sit in on department meetings and offer their advice or perspective on company-wide initiatives. From this vantage point, you can see what other roles you may want to explore, identify a new path that aligns with your strengths and career goals, or decide that the Executive Assistant position is, in fact, exactly where you are meant to be!

Here are several common career paths that could be the right next step for an Executive Assistant (though this is, of course, not an exhaustive list!):

  • Senior Executive Assistant
  • Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant for a Founder or Celebrity
  • Project Management
  • Administrative Leadership
  • Operations
  • PR or Communications
  • Founder or Entreprenuer
  • Coach, Trainer, or Speaker
  • C-Suite Leadership
  • Human Resources
  • Chief of Staff

Yes, sometimes moving from Executive Assistant to an Administrative Leader is enough of a change. Or staying in the same role, but moving to a different company or working with a different leader who’s principles and drive align with yours gives you the change you need to continue to thrive.

Career growth for an Executive Assistant doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the Executive Assistant role, it may just mean making some adjustments around the position to bring your goals and job satisfaction into alignment. At the same time, career growth for an Executive Assistant may mean leaving the profession all together. Both are viable options!

What’s Next?

If any of the above career tracks sound like they might be the right fit for you, keep exploring!

Dive in and do your research around the broad career track that you’re interested in. See what type of jobs fall within that career and how they match up with the answers to your self-inventory, as well as your career goals.

Perhaps remaining in the EA position is the right move for you, but you want to explore working in a different industry, for a specific company, or for a different type of leader (for example, maybe a founder vs. a corporate VP). Do your research, but don’t get stuck there for too long.

Once you have a clearer idea of exactly what the next right opportunity might look like for you, see if you can shadow individuals currently doing the role you’re interested in – either inside or outside of your company. Schedule informational interviews with others who are in the role or at the company you want to work at. LinkedIn is a great place to engage in this type of networking and outreach.

Based on your self-inventory, you may discover that in order to move into a new role or completely different career, you need to get some specific continuing education. Take a course, complete a certification program, or attend webinars to gain additional exposure to the training areas you’ve identified.

Finally, one of the best ways to explore new Executive Assistants jobs or a new career is by stepping into the arena and applying for the opportunities that you are interested in. This is going to give you real-time feedback about whether your skills and experience are landing with future employers. Once you begin interviewing, you will be able to hone your interviewing skills, while learning more about the career, company, and industry that you are interviewing for. You may discover through that process that it’s not really for you or that it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for all along! Either way, you win.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, said, “… nobody owes you a career. Your career is literally your business. You own it as a sole proprietor. You have one employee: yourself. You need to accept ownership of your career, your skills and the timing of your moves.”

Bottom line? You are the CEO of your life and your career. Take control of your career and make your work work for you.

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