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What if I worked as a VA?

January 11, 2010

For those of you who don’t know, a VA is a Virtual Assistant. Someone who provides all the services of an Executive Assistant or an Administrative Assistant, but does it virtually.

When I asked on twitter if anyone knew how to become a VA, Naomi was kind enough to respond that I should check out AssistU.com, which is a training center for VA, and offers the highest level of certification in this budding industry.

So I went over to the site and poked around on the FAQ page, and I came across this question:

Q: How do I decide if being a VA is the right career path for me?

A: If you’re here reading this, if what you’re reading is exciting to you, if you have great skills, if you genuinely love being of service, if the idea of supporting a busy entrepreneur jazzes you, if you are insatiably curious, love to learn, and love being a resource for people, if you want to create a company of your own visioning — one where you’ll do work you love with dynamic people, chances are becoming a VA is right for you.

Well, as I read through the FAQ, what I’m reading is very exciting. It sounds wonderful, and something that I could use to expand on my current skillset in a way that would be rewarding and fulfilling. But my excitement is tempered somewhat by fear, especially when I read the line, “if you have great skills.”

My fear? That I don’t have enough skill at this point to be successful at being a VA. I want to say that’s just a lack of confidence in my abilities, but I just don’t know.

I’ve worked as an assistant for four people over the course of my working life (the last seven years).

– I spent one summer (3 months, roughly) working part-time as a lab assistant at a biology lab in a major university (mostly copying lab books, making basic formulas, and recording experimental data).
– I spent seven months working as an administrative assistant to a tailor in a small local tailor shop, where I did everything for her, from assisting her clients, keeping cleaning the bathrooms to opening the mail and doing payroll.
– I spent two months working for my mother-in-law (who is an independent financial advisor), where I mostly did filing and kept track of her schedule for her, as well as answering calls and helping her help her clients. I also was a sounding board for some of her ideas about marketing and the like.
– I have spent the better part of the last five months working for my current boss (also an independent financial advisor) where I do everything from make coffee, file, and answer the phones to track new business, fill out applications, and keep track of his schedule.

I know what I like to do among those duties, and I’ve become good at all of them. But many people expect more from their assistant than that. Like party planning, and other things I haven’t thought of.

Also, I’ve only been an assistant for, collectively, less than two years. And I’ve never really had any formal training (is there such a thing?). So while am interested in exploring the option of working as a VA, because I think it would be fun and challenging, and I could really help some interesting people do what they love to do, I’m hesitant to try it, because I’m afraid I won’t be good enough. That I don’t know enough.

Over the next few days I’m going to poke around on the AssistU website, and see if there aren’t answers to my more pressing questions, like…

“What, exactly, do most people expect from their administrative assistant (virual or otherwise)?”
“Do I have the requisite skills to do the things that are usually expected of an assistant?”
“Is this something that I really want to pursue for the long term?

The last question is particularly important because the time and money investment are such that it’s not something I something I could just flit in an out of, like I do so many things in my life.

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