Almost every potential client asks me, “How did you decide to become a Virtual Assistant (VA)?” Here’s my story:
I’ll never forget when my father said, “I don’t know why I’m sending you to college: you’ll probably drop out and get married.” Given that it was the 70s, I felt like I’d snapped back into the 50s. I thought, “I’ll show him.”
I need to add that my father probably won’t remember making the above statement, and that my parents generously contributed to my college education. They discouraged me from working while attending college, but I did anyway. Nonetheless, I had something to prove and attained my master’s degree in business (MBA) at the age of 22.
I was well-educated and had high expectations, but I had little direction (and focus) during the recession of the early 80s. One of my first jobs was as an administrative assistant to a CEO of a hardware/software startup. I remember being urged to create documents on the computer with Word Perfect and had to be weaned off the typewriter. There were no icons back then and all the document’s features had to be coded in with a special combination of keys (alt + B for bold, for example). It was more like HTML than word processing back then. I loved being an administrative professional, but I felt that I was destined for more.
My career took a turn into finance and then accounting. I started near the bottom since I had little experience. The detail aspects of the job really appealed to me. I attained progressively more responsible accounting related position for about a dozen years.
Ultimately I received a promotion to a management system administration position. I rose to the challenge and enjoyed creating computer training manuals and training users on our financial system.
Then I was selected to be the Finance co-lead on an SAP Enterprise System implementation. We received excellent training and learned a lot about project management from our consultant cohorts.
When the 9-month implementation project was over, I did some soul searching. I felt stifled in my post project position even though it paid well and was created for me. I no longer felt inspired or excited about going to work and needed to make a change.
I had always loved school and decided that I would retrain as a technical writer. I was attracted to the precision and detail, as well as the creativity. I left my very safe government job with an excellent salary and pension and stepped off a cliff into the unknown.
During my technical writing training, I was a fish out of water. Here I was in a graphics design class using an Exacto knife to carve letters with precision. I struggled at first and then excelled. A new door had opened up to me—a creativity door that I didn’t know existed—one of shapes and colors and possibilities.
Because of a scheduling conflict, I had to wait an entire year to finish my technical writing program. I spent my time wisely and took HTML, Dreamweaver (HTML editor) and graphics design courses. I had a ball. When I finished and received my certificate, my portfolio was voted best in the class. I then realized that I had to get a job as a technical writer. Back to a cubicle, a commute, and the drudgery of 8–5. I needed another option.
I enjoyed being at home, in my neighborhood, with my adorable dog Madison at my side. I needed to find a way to have a home-based business career.
Searching on the internet, I found Entrepreneur.com’s article on the 5 hottest home-based careers. Virtual Assistance was one of them. My heart sang! This was it. I really can have it all.
I thought, “I can be a high level assistant to the growing numbers of home-based professionals who don’t want to hire an employee to assist them in their home. I could combine my vast and varied experience to be a tremendous resource.” This was it.
I’ve come full circle since I was an Administrative Assistant right out of college. I’m back to being an assistant, but now on my terms, and I love it.