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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


The expanding admin career

This story is about Deborah (not her real name) who works for a large international consulting firm. She is one of three administrative assistants who support the pensions department. There are 15 consultants, junior consultants and specialists on the team. Deborah is administrative assistant to the team leader and three other consultants.


Deborah was laid off from her previous job. Because she anticipated the downsizing, she started networking with colleagues, friends and acquaintances early. A friend of her sister-in-law told Deborah that the consulting firm where she worked was hiring. There were two positions to be filled: a senior position that would likely go to someone with a university degree and very strong computer skills, and a junior position that would include filing and data entry.

Deborah has a university degree but she knew her PowerPoint and Excel skills were not as strong as her other computer skills. She had not used these programs since she had received her initial training. She correctly assumed that she would be tested in the full Microsoft Office Suite and she wanted to get top scores.

Deborah was interviewed by the HR department, by the pensions team leader and two other pensions consultants. Part of the interview was a literacy test, a writing test and a full battery of software testing. Her computer test scores were in the top 95 percentile, her literacy scores were very high and, she was told later, her writing test is what got her the job. Her ability to communicate both verbally and in writing, clearly and with confidence, was what clinched the job for her.

Deborah thoroughly enjoys her job. She is very organized and takes great pride in keeping her department running smoothly. She also enjoys the supervisory aspect of her job. As admin to the team leader, one of her responsibilities is to be team leader to the other two administrative assistants in her department as well as assistants who support the sales department and the marketing department.

Upgrading skills

Another part of the job she especially enjoys is one she created for herself. The pensions department needed a marketing piece written for both a pamphlet and the company website. Deborah volunteered to write it and learned enough about the website to be able to maintain and update the pensions piece as required. She trained other administrative assistants in the basics of HTML so the company will not need to pay outside specialists for simple maintenance tasks. Called upon to write reports and internal presentations, her upgraded PowerPoint skills have also proven to be very helpful.

Deborah understands the need to upgrade her skills. She takes her career as an office professional very seriously and sees her position as constantly developing as she expands her interests and skills.

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