Thinking of Celebrating Administrative Assistants Day? Not so fast.

Actually, for most “Administrative Assistants” this is “Oh my god you think I’m a secretary?!? I hate my life” Day.

I remember many years ago, my first job right out of college, I worked as an Editorial Assistant at a magazine. I shared an office with another college grad about the same age as me, and we were the two hardest working, lowest paid people on staff.  What made it worth it for me was holding onto the promise of bigger things to come: a promotion, job growth, the hope of moving up and actually making the most of my college education, which I knew I would spend the next 10 years paying off.

I will never forget the look on my co-worker’s face when her boss walked in with a bright pink coffee mug filled with flowers, a garish mylar balloon attached to the handle. (Ironically, this was commonly marketed as a “Pick Me Up” bouquet.)

My co-worker had attended one of the top Journalism programs on the East Coast, graduating with honors and several writing credits under her belt.  Instead of feeling appreciated for a job well done, the well-intentioned flowers presented to her on “Administrative Assistants Day” made her realize just how low on the totem pole she was, and that her chances of staying on staff long-term and getting promoted were slim. Instead of an “up and coming” young colleague, she was seen as “support staff” for the rest of the editors.  She started updating her resume that very evening.

We both moved on not long after that, to higher paying jobs where we made it clear from the beginning that we were looking to move up the ladder. Yes, receptionists and secretaries and administrative assistants play an important supportive role in business, and deserve to be appreciated…but before you buy those flowers, think about whether or not your recipient truly sees themselves that way.

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