College Student Mary Hill recently asked to interview me for her "Career and Life Planning Course." Not sure it was helpful to HER, but I had fun....(There is no way you can PLAN for this sort of thing....)About the Career Field
How did you get into this career? Or, How did you go from 'Putting together shelves' to running Bossman's life 17 years later?
I started by doing the book shelves then there were other things to do, so I thought I would stay on until they were done. Not yet!What do you do at work on a typical day?
No typical days. Whatever needs to be done. Could be and generally is anything. Might be cooking, shopping, errands, posting, e-mail, setting up interviews, making sure he gets to where he is meant to be , pet things, scheduling appts, travel, events, making tea, tending bees. There is no end to it.
What do you do at work during a typical 'Boss is in another state/country for a few days/week/s? (I really like 'A Day In The Life of a Personal Assistant')
I made up the Tasmanian Devil, the rest is true. I do mostly the same work when he is gone, tho not as much hands on for him, no tea making. I make sure the house runs smoothly, everything gets done, I work a lot more online.What are your responsibilities?
Taking care of as much as possible for him so that he can write.What advice do you have for someone preparing for a career in this field?
Check your ego. You are not the talent. If you need to hear 24/7 how great you are, wrong field. They know. And appreciate it. Likewise, if you are a 9-5 mon to fri kind of person, this is not for you. It's 24/7. Things are going to go wrong. And right. Roll with it.
What majors and/or minors do you recommend for someone interested in this field?
No clue. Not sure anything could prepare you for it. You have to learn, every day, as you go. You have to learn the person you work for, what they want, need, are like. Listen, learn and move fast.What courses and/or advanced degree(s) would be helpful for me?
Quite seriously, a notebook and pen are your best friends. Write everything down. I never finished high school, and had only a brief stay in college. Don't use a bit of either.What experience is necessary to enter this field?
None. You need to learn and not talk about the things you hear. PA who are indiscreet are out of jobs quickly. And dedication, I think. Total and complete.What activities do you enjoy doing the most?
Music, horse riding, Bengals, (yes, that IS an activity) beekeeping. Are we dating yet?
What are 3 things that you enjoy most about working for Mr. G?
Making things work right, talking to people, and the challenge daily.What is the greatest challenge of this job?
You will always need to learn something new. And you will learn you need to have learned this about a day after you needed it.What are the 3 most challenging aspects of working for Mr. Gaiman?
Making REALLY good tea consistently. (yes, that is my three)What do you like least about your job?
Saying no to people. I have to do it more and more, and it is very hard to do, or rather, it's not hard to do, I do it, but I hate disappointing people. That bit is hard. About the Organization/Industry
What is unique to your industry, organization, or office?
There is only one Neil GaimanWhat do you like most/least about the work you do?
It's like tossing a LOT of balls in the air, watching them whirl around, and then catching them perfectly as they come down and lobbing them off somewhere else..What is your work environment like?
Pretty amazingly cool, I must say.What skills are required for your job?
Don't worry about them, you will acquire them as you go. Keep it together, know what is coming, and don't worry when you don't and it hits you.
What skills are the most important for you to learn to be successful in this career?
Deal with whatever. Fast.How do you feel your experience working with Mr. G might compare to other personal assistants?
Well, I know a lot of PA's. And being a closemouthed secretive sort, not a lot I can tell you. We KNOW.
I recall there was a reality show a while back "Be Puff Daddy's PA" or something? I can tell you his real PA's were not on camera, they were in the back ground saying "Right 10Am, Mr Puff, shoot till 3, I have your plane tickets, here is your car info, lunch is at noon, I've packed your clothes, they shoot B roll at 4 and here are you meetings" and they were wearing leggings and tee shirts, and probably had not combed their hair.Are there other organizations in this field that I might explore for opportunities?
No. I mean, well, there might be. I have enough trouble keeping my own bit organized, not sure about anything else.What is the economic forecast for Personal Assistant-ing?
Uh, my job seems secure. And I would say, while there is talent, they are going to need us.About Future Growth/Salary Information
What are the employment prospects for someone entering this field?
Well, if you mean MY field, as in my job, you can't have it. What is the growth and promotional potential for personal assistants?
I would say as a PA if you do not grow and promote, you are fired.Currently, how secure are positions as personal assistants?
As secure as your last success and as insecure as your next failure.What areas are growing/changing in this field?
Again, I only know MY field, as in my job. Grows and changes daily. I love it.What is a typical starting salary for a personal assistant?
My first job (not Neil) I worked for peanuts. Literally. He would reach in a bag, grab some...According to salary.com, the typical yearly salary for a personal assistant in the Bay Area is around $43,000. Does that seem accurate to you?
There IS no typical. You start with someone, and grow with them, or you get hired by someone and work it out between the two of you.Follow-Up Questions
Is there anyone that you think I should speak with about my career exploration, and if so, can I use your name?
You can use my name all you like, but I have NO idea who you could talk to. Find someone who needs an Assistant, and start Assassinating.May I contact you again if I have further questions? (Not expecting a super-fast response, you're a busy assistant, and I respect that.)
Sure, this is lovely fun, after a long day. I think it has done more for ME tho, than it is going to do for you, in terms of help.Which professional publications/organizations and other resources do you consider relevant?
Get really really good at booking airfares. If I wanted to start in this career area, how would you recommend that I go about it?
Find someone who needs help. Then help them. Do whatever you can, then do more. You told me a bit about what you are doing, that's it EXACTLY. Listen, learn, and move fast.What advice would you give to me in regard to my career direction? Or, if you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you have done differently?
I would do nothing differently. I love my job and don't ever want to do anything else. If you do this, make sure you feel the same.
Love and Assistanting,