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As a Hispanic professional, have you ever considered a career as an Administrative Assistant? In this interview, one professional speaks out about her career, and what she has learned along the way.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I have been an Administrative Assistant for five years now and love every bit of it. Being in an office environment makes me feel at home. I love a challenge and my job is always challenging me left and right. Plus, it makes me feel cool and sophisticated. I would describe myself as smart, hard-working, and honest. I could never tell a lie, which probably means becoming an actress is out of the question.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a Hispanic woman. My parents were both born in Mexico but my mom grew up here, so she’s more Americanized than my father. Being Hispanic never really hurt me; it actually helped me. I have always felt that the Hispanic clientele feels more at ease if the person they are interacting with is Hispanic, and speaking Spanish is a plus. When I was working at an architect’s office, I was the only Spanish-speaking person there so I would translate whenever it was needed. It felt good to step up and help my co-workers.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: Being an Administrative Assistant can be a challenge at times. I juggle deadlines, meetings, clientele, and general office work, as well as acting as a personal assistant to my manager. My work requires me to be independent, complete tasks quickly and efficiently, and be a fast problem solver. The misunderstanding that I would like to correct about my job is that I am not just a pretty face sitting at the front desk. I am not that “sexy secretary,” although I consider myself attractive. I am a powerful worker. I am part of a team which would start to disintegrate without me.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I would rate my job satisfaction a 9 only because of the hours. I wish I had more time to spend with my daughters and focus on my true dream job, becoming a fashion designer/fashion writer. Soon I know I will be able to quit my job and become a full-time designer or writer, or both.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: Being an Administrative Assistant does not really move my heart. Fashion is what calls my name everyday, besides my children, literally and metaphorically. My current job does help me to be organized and punctual so it has a lot of pros that come along with it.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: The fact that I am a young mother of not just one, but two little girls makes having a career a bit more difficult, but not impossible. In fact, it is what motivates me even more to succeed. I would like to see people reach their goals regardless of their situation.

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I was first introduced into this line of work when I was 17 years old working at a gym. I handled a lot of the general office work which included sales. If I could go back I would not change a thing. Everything I have done in the past has shaped the way I am now, and I am content with who I am.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: What I learned the hard way was that I had to sacrifice if I wanted to succeed. I love my children and wish I could spend all day with them but I have to sacrifice family time to be able to provide for them. I want to give them a better life than I had growing up and I can’t do that by staying home. I need to work so they can live in a safe neighborhood and attend the best schools.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: The single most important thing I have learned outside of school about the working world is that most of the time you do not get a “do over.” About 95% of the time you will not get a second chance if you make a mistake. This is the real world filled with adults who all want a piece of the pie and aren’t willing to share. The only person you can truly depend on is yourself. You are the only person who will make things happen for yourself, whether good or bad. You will not move forward without sacrifice.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: To be honest, I have never had anything strange happen to me. To someone else, that might make my job sound a bit boring, even though it isn’t. There have been a lot of times of joy but nothing strange that was worth remembering.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I get up and go to work each day to provide for my family and to also clear my head, as weird as that may sound. Sometimes you need a bit of “me time” and I feel that my job is my “me time.”

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: Challenges I handle are dealing with rude, careless co-workers, although it never makes me want to quit. I never let anyone else get in the way of me accomplishing what I have to do. Sure, people might try to intentionally sabotage your plans but you can’t let them stop you.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: My job can be very stressful at times, especially around deadline times. Sometimes there is so much tension in the office because everyone is rushing to get things done, but I manage to keep my cool. I can confidently maintain a stable work-life balance by not mixing the two. Once I get home, there is no talk about work and I never take whatever may be going on at home to the office. I believe you need to separate the two to achieve harmony.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: The salary range for my current position is 30-35k. I believe I am paid enough because I do not hold a degree. I am making enough to live comfortably along with my husband’s income.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I don’t really take full vacations. I like to take one to three days here and there to spend extra time with my family. Sometimes I feel it isn’t enough because my daughters are growing up so fast and I would love to be there every second of it.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: When it comes to education needed to step into this field it varies. If you are applying to become an executive assistant for a C-level company, they usually require a Bachelor’s degree. You can get away with having only a high school diploma or Associate degree if you are applying at a smaller company or office.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: If a friend of mine was considering my current line of work I would support their decision as long as they were someone who is serious, mature, and responsible. I would also offer tips or advice, should they request it.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: If I could write my own ticket for five years into the future, I would be an established and successful fashion designer. That is my goal and I know I will reach it soon through hard work and dedication. Nothing is achieved without hard work and sacrifice. Nothing in this world is free.