A Very Bad Career Choice
What are some of the the worst careers you can think of?
Ditch digger? No. You get to be outside.
Guard at a prison for the criminally insane? Maybe. At least the pay is pretty good.
Assembly line worker? Definitely possible. Long hours of doing the same thing over and over again. That’s pretty bad.
But I can think of one career that is extremely common, that millions toil at every day suffering silently, the only ones truly able to read this article and think, “damn right!”
What is the position? The Administrative Assistant. (Or Secretary/Data-Entry Processor/Office Coordinator)
Why Being an Administrative Assistant is so Awful
1. Independent Thought is Frowned Upon
If slavery existed today, this is as close as it gets in it’s present-day format. You have no power. You have to do exactly what your superiors tell you. You sit for hours while your body begs you to stop, developing carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, a bad neck, bad posture and tiredness and have to take it all smiling.
Any hint of insubordination is grounds for dismissal. This is not the case with other positions where people actually have a skill-set which is more difficult to replace. If a web designer who is an independent contractor disagrees with the way their company wants to display their logo, the company may listen to them and take their advice. If an Administrative Assistant disagrees with the way his manager writes a memo, he is told (essentially) that he isn’t paid to think. If he protests further, he can be easily replaced. And this is because office drones are easy to find. There is no special talent required, except for a streak of masochism.
2. The Pay is Really, Really Bad
Honestly, who can live on $9 an hour these days? True, many assistants make more than this (some make a good deal more) but it is rare to find one who makes more than $32,000 per year or so. And there is little chance of any kind of bonus, except for the laughable 2% annual “raise” which doesn’t even keep pace with inflation. And I’m not saying that money is the be-all end-all important factor in job selection. But there are so many other problems with this line of “work” that the pay certainly doesn’t justify doing it.
It also suffers from the terrible, classic “pay by the hour” system which has many, many flaws and limitations.
3. It Isn’t a True Career
Go ahead. Find someone who said that they wanted to be a secretary or assistant when they grew up. Having trouble? That’s because there is nobody. I can’t think of anyone who would actually want to be an office drone. It’s the anti-dream of most young people who are looking ahead to their futures. They’d rather be a physician, attorney, surfer, astronaut, congressman, travel writer, professional boxer… whatever. These are actually real professions that have “personality” and help fuel purpose. Most people want purpose. Most people want to make a difference.
An Administrative Assistant’s purpose is to do what they are told. It isn’t unreasonable to think that assistants may be replaced some day by computers. Anything that doesn’t require independent thought of any kind can, in theory, be replaced by technology. But until that day, we’ll require human beings to be doing the same job that the relatives of your home computer will one day perform.
And every time I hear about the wonders of one of these “Administrative Assistant” training programs at one of these vocational schools I feel like hanging myself.
4. Room for Growth is Non-existent
Foot in the door.
You might as well stick your foot into a blender. You won’t be needing it with the amount of sitting you’ll be doing. (Except for trips to the copy machine and your master’s office.) You’ll be doing this for years on end. Even if you DO switch offices, you’ll just be doing the same things in the next one. Because assistants get replaced all the time, this is likely. So while you are in transition from one drone job to another, you can see any hint of savings (ha!) disappear during these “down times” (between job periods.)
And you get to do this while watching other people advance in their careers and actually make a contribution to their field of choice.
There is no future for the Administrative Assistant. None whatsoever.
That is, unless they find something else to do with their professional life.
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