From Secretary to Virtual Assistant and Personal Concierge


April 23 marked the end of Administrative Professionals Week 2014. The annual event, formerly known as National Secretaries Week, was created by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

According to the IAAP website, the event has two objectives: to recognize “the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend,” and to call attention “through favorable publicity, to the tremendous potential of the secretarial career.”

While IAAP says many workers around the world still hold the “secretary” job title, there are now more popular alternative titles, including administrative assistant, executive assistant, and office manager.

In addition to full-time jobs for administrative professionals, an increasing number of people with administrative skills start their own businesses.

With the rise of the Internet, there have been growing opportunities for those who want to provide “virtual assistant” services for busy people and companies.

Instead of going into an employer’s office to work, virtual assistants work “virtually” from the comfort of their own home office or another location of their choice.

Some virtual assistants work with corporate clients who have downsized or outsourced jobs that were previously done by employees. Other virtual assistants do work for busy professionals such as authors, entrepreneurs, real estate agents, doctors, or lawyers. Often, these clients don’t have enough work to employ an administrative assistant full-time, so a virtual assistant provides services to multiple clients on an as needed basis.

The work that virtual assistants do depends on their personal interests as well as the clients they do business with. Virtual assistants may specialize in a particular office task, or they may offer a variety of services such: appointment setting, bookkeeping, customer service, data entry, editing, event planning, human resources, legal assistance, medical transcription, proofreading, project management, public relations, research, web design, word processing, writing, or anything else clients need help with.

Many students attending our virtual assistant course are attracted to the career because they want to have a flexible, financially rewarding business that gives them the freedom to work on a variety of projects they enjoy.

Another career that attracts people with administrative skills is “personal concierge”.

A personal concierge is someone who has a business providing services for busy people. While most of a virtual assistant’s work involves office tasks, a personal concierge may also run errands and do work outside of an office.

Personal concierge services are more in demand than ever before. In our busy society an increasing number of people need help getting their personal errands handled. It’s no wonder many corporations now provide personal concierge services as a benefit to their employees.

Someone who owns a personal concierge business might decide to work hands-on providing personal services, or they might decide to manage other service providers. Like virtual assistant work, personal concierge work offers a wide variety of choices.

Following are some of the services a personal concierge might choose to provide:

  • Errand service (dry cleaning, post office, banking, pharmacy, delivery, etc.)
  • Child care service (chauffeuring, supervision)
  • Dining and activities (tickets, reservations, tee times, private tours)
  • Executive and corporate assistance (planning meetings, transporting clients, organizational services)
  • House-sitting service (plants and garden, fill fridge for arrival, check on teens)
  • Office help (filing, organizing, copying)
  • Pet care service (feeding, walks, grooming)
  • Planning dinner parties and other events (invitations, food and drink, decorating, music/entertainment)
  • Relocation service (evaluating homes and rentals, moving and storage arrangements, settling-in services)
  • Repair and maintenance service (arranging service, getting quotes, allowing access)
  • Shopping service (groceries, gifts, gift-wrapping, item returns)
  • Technology solutions (websites, databases)
  • Transportation service (airport, within the city)
  • Travel service (planning and booking)
  • Writing/proofreading service
  • Other services (meal service, reminder service, handling mini-emergencies, etc.)

Personal concierges usually work from home, scheduling errands and services around their family life or other commitments.

One benefit of the job, according to IAP Career College students, is feeling needed and appreciated, hearing “you saved the day again!” Plus, a personal concierge career is often fun and interesting as well as financially rewarding.

Whether self-employed or working in an office, administrative professionals provide valuable services that successful people and companies depend on. The recognition they receive during Administrative Professionals Week is well deserved.

Tag Goulet is co-founder of and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College, which offers certificates for dream careers. To contact Tag visit