Realistic Expectations Win the Job Search Gold!

Having recently concluded the 2012 London Olympics, we have observed athletes from all around the world coming together to compete. We have heard their inspiring stories of triumph and defeat, watched dreams become reality, and, in some cases, observed heartache from a career ending injury or unmet expectations. While injuries are often out of their control, there are certain precautions an Olympic athlete can take to prevent the kind of heartache that particularly stems from unmet expectations.

Every Olympic athlete sets realistic expectations for themselves—many of them beginning in childhood. They did not expect to become an Olympic athlete without putting in the long, grueling hours of training. Instead, they expected to spend the majority of their time doing just that. They knew the time and effort they put into their training would not be easy, but it was to help them meet their future goals. Much like an Olympian, you have a future goal to achieve—employment as an administrative assistant. You are training hard in order to do so, but your effort will need to continue much further than the point of passing the final exam. Now is the time, as a student, to set your job search expectations. After you complete your training, what can you realistically expect from your job search?

First and foremost, you must remember that a job will not come to you. The Olympics never came to anyone who sat at home watching them, waiting for the opportunity to fall into their lap. Instead of swimming laps or lifting weights, your training will include building an industry targeted resume, networking, learning how to interview well, and maybe even passing certification exams. Like training for the Olympics, this preparation is not easy and does not happen overnight. Thus, you can realistically expect your job search to be a job in and of itself. That being said, please remember that an Olympic athlete is not left to train alone—they have coaches and teammates to help them throughout their years of preparation. Likewise, the Career Step Graduate Support team is here to help coach you through your search for employment. Once you graduate, you will be given access to a variety of resources to help teach you how to build a resume, take a certification exam, interview well, and find a job that fits what you are looking for. Of course, when it comes down to it, your coach cannot compete in the Olympics for you. Similarly, most of your job search depends on you. Your Career Step ‘coaches’ will train you to the best of their ability; however, they cannot place you in a position. They are available to be your live support, answer any questions you may have throughout your search for employment, and do all that they can to help you succeed. In addition, you have access to the forums, helping you connect with a variety of ‘teammates’ who are also rooting for your success!

Before an athlete is eligible to compete in the Olympics, they must first succeed in the qualifying round. This qualifying round lets the Olympic committee know that these athletes have trained hard and are prepared to represent their country. Likewise, you become eligible for employment by making it through a qualifying round, known as a national certification exam. You have the option to become certified through taking either the CMAA through the NHA or the MOS exams through Microsoft. Passing a certification exam lets employers know that you have received adequate training and are ready to hit the ground running in an administrative assistant position.

Once you have accepted a position, what can you realistically expect from your first administrative assistant job? Like any new field, there will be a transition period. As most Olympians don’t win a gold medal at their first games, you will probably not know how to do everything perfectly or you may make a mistake. You will need to get accustomed to a new group of co-workers and various office policies. Please be patient with yourself! Pay attention to feedback from additional coaches (managers, co-workers, etc.) and learn how to implement their suggestions for improvement. Remember—your coaches are always there to help you and have your best interests in mind. They are trying to help you become the best you can be!

In addition to realistic expectations for your preparations, enter the industry with realistic expectations for the conditions in which you will be working. No athlete begins their career enjoying the same perks a seasoned gold medalist does. It generally takes an athlete several years of training and excellent performance to obtain sponsorship, increased salary, and additional benefits. Likewise, it does take experience and performance to raise your salary and possibly obtain a more flexible schedule. Starting any new industry is difficult and takes time to adjust to—and administrative assisting is no different. Remember, with hard work and determination, you can also reach this level!

Approaching your job search with realistic expectations will help you avoid the unwanted heartache that can follow unmet expectations. Set high goals and work your hardest, but make sure you have a clear understanding of the industry and what to expect. After graduating from the program, you have the training you need to succeed! Keep this in mind, continue your preparations, and go for the gold!

-Alison Stapley
Career Step Graduate Support

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