My Journey to Becoming a VA

A good assistant's intuition will tell her something's changing

What you're about to read may seem a bit choppy, but that's the way things seem to be when you look back in retrospect to put everything into perspective.  I hope you'll stick with me.

I had been working with a major Spanish bank for almost five years when I began to feel that something was changing.  From the beginning, there was always something happening.  The bank that I started with was acquired by a large Spanish bank within a year of my employment and soon, restructuring and reorganization began to be the norm.  But, this gut feeling I had during the middle of my fourth year just wouldn't go away.  Something was different.  People that had made it through the several restructuring and reorganization processes were suddenly retiring or their position was eliminated during minor re-orgs.  One here, one there.

Around this same time we were allowed to explore LinkedIn from our work computers and were encouraged to join groups and to discover the networking opportunities available through this avenue of social media.  While I built my profile and began to surf through groups, I kept noticing the terms EA, PA, and VA.  Well, I knew what the first two were because I was an Executive Assistant, and knew others who were Personal Assistants.  But what was this VA?  The only organization I knew with this acronym was the Veteran's Association and I felt sure that this was not what this VA was at all.  So I began to do a little researching.

I soon discovered there was another field of assistants called Virtual Assistants.  Wow!  They did everything that I did sitting in my office at work but from the comfort of their own homes from their laptops and desktops or while traveling using tablets if necessary.  I thought to myself that this must be a very rewarding and challenging endeavor, so, why not look further into it?

I found a mentoring program that sounded promising and signed up for it.  The information available for this field has blown me away.  In addition, there are certification programs that one could study.  There is such a plethora of information and programs that it can be extremely over-whelming.  I'm glad that I stuck with the program that I found because it was easy to follow yet demanding enough to hold my attention and make me want to learn more.  And the timing of finding this program couldn't have happened at a better time.

My husband and I commuted to work together and it was on the way home one evening when he told me that his employer would be building a large campus much closer to our home.  He wanted me to start looking for another position even though his move to the new campus was at least  two or three years away.  My intuition told me to stick to where I was for another year but to be prepared because something big was in the works.  I couldn't bring myself to tell him what I had discovered and that I was already learning all that I could.

My own boss was interested in the news about my husband's company and I told him about my husband's request.  I also told my boss that I wasn't prepared to leave my job because I needed a solid five years in my position if at all possible.  We discussed the reasons for my concern and he agreed that I had valid reasons for wanting the five years.  I asked him at that time to please give me a heads up, if he could, if my position was to come to an end knowing all along that I was asking him to do something that in all actuality he shouldn't.  Again, I couldn't bring myself to tell my boss what I had discovered and was learning.  I look back and think this must have been my way of strengthening myself and being prepared for when the other shoe would finally drop.

Fast forward to the tenth month of my sixth year with the bank and I finally get the news that my job will be coming to an end in three months.  I had been studying at my own pace for almost a year.  It was time to come clean with what I wanted to do.  I'm not a young person, not old by any means either but when you hit 50 finding a new job doesn't come quite as easy.  My husband and I were on our way home again one evening when I finally told him the news he had been expecting for a while as well.  Obviously, he wasn't surprised but he was upset that I hadn't been looking or trying to interview with local companies for another job.  But he did listen to what I had to say.

Surprisingly, he was taken aback enough to put aside his thoughts and really think about what I was saying and he began to question me to tell him more.  What's more, he agreed to let me try!  Wow!  I began to get excited about my new endeavor and looked forward to my last day commuting to work.

Work.  I still had three months to make up my mind as to whether I was going to do this, pursue another position within the bank, or look for another position closer to home.  I decided to talk it over with a few key people I interacted with on a regular basis as well as my boss.  He was extremely open to the idea because there had been many times that I did work from home without any interruption of services.  He did of course, play the devils advocate to question my motives and my plans for being successful.  Everyone that I spoke to had the same reaction when I told them I wanted to be a VA.  "A what?" with that deer in the headlights kind of look.  Once they understood what the position entails, they were all very encouraging.

Finally my last day arrives.  I had worked with the bank for six years and one month.  I began as an Administrative Coordinator in Mortgage, moving into an Executive Assistant position in Wealth Management and lastly in the Insurance division.  The day was bittersweet as I really didn't want to leave on the one hand, but on the other, I was excited about the new opportunities that lay ahead. 

It hasn't been easy, but I haven't regretted this decision.  My husband has been supportive even though he would like me to be more successful faster than I seem to be at the moment.  But, I'm a Virtual Assistant and I couldn't be more proud to say that I am.