Hear it from the Source: Advice from a Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant positions have grown popular in recent years as education and online tools have created new opportunities in the field. Kathy Colaiacovo, Past President of the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and principal at Time on Task Virtual Assistant Services shares some advice and insights into virtual assistant opportunities for students considering this career path.

Virtual assistant positions have emerged in recent years due to ever-changing communication technology and an increase in available administrative assistant training. Through online tools, professionals can perform traditional office duties remotely, changing the way that administrative work is done for many companies across the world. Building a client base and becoming a successful VA is hard work, but it can also be very rewarding.

We asked Kathy to give us some insights into developing professional skills, establishing yourself, and achieving success. Here are her top five things that virtual assistants get to do that will make you want to consider this great new field:  

1. Be your own boss
VAs are self-employed business owners, and take on client work from outside businesses. Working on your own, building a client base and managing your time while working on projects for clients takes a lot of self-motivation and dedication. “No one is going to hand you work,” Colaiacovo said. “You need to be a self-starter, you need to be willing to learn on your own, and you need to be resourceful.” But while it’s hard work, being your own boss means being entirely in charge of the path your career will take. The IVAA provides resources and tips on how to start a virtual assistant business.

2. Set your own hours
Working as a VA allows you to have a much more flexible schedule than a traditional job would. Client work can be scheduled to accommodate other responsibilities; for example, this job may be ideal for individuals who would like to spend more time with their families during the day.

3. Pick the specialty of your choice
The roles and responsibilities of a VA will vary greatly depending on the individual and the clients they are servicing. Tasks that are often performed by VAs include administrative work, project management, web design services, marketing planning, and social media management. Most VAs choose to specialize in a particular area. The benefit of doing client work is that you can decide what type of projects you would like to work on the most, and ultimately control the role you will play as a virtual assistant. “It’s what you make of it,” Colaiacovo said. Some popular virtual specialties include:

  • social media VA
  • virtual marketing assistant
  • virtual legal assistant
  • virtual real estate assistant
  • virtual sales assistant
  • executive VA or virtual secretary
  • personal VA

4. Work on a variety of projects
While both roles incorporate similar tasks, a day in the life of a VA is quite different from that of a traditional administrative assistant or office manager. A VA works with multiple clients, and may only do 5-10 hours of work per month for a single client. A VA usually works on planned projects, rather than the on-demand work that an in-office employee might be expected to complete, in order to accommodate their scheduling needs. Working on multiple projects for different companies can serve as a nice change of pace from a traditional position.

5. Professional organizations provide opportunities
While working remotely may seem lonely, there are many opportunities for socializing through involvement in professional organizations, such as IVAA. In addition to providing learning opportunities and certification programs to help VAs develop their employability skills, professional organizations offer individuals a venue for networking with other professionals – a crucial step in developing your business and yourself. Social events allow VAs to bounce ideas off of each other and get feedback that they might not get while working independently. “They’ll get some ideas to overcome those road blocks,” Colaiacovo said.

IVAA also provides a Request for Proposal (RFP) system and professional directory for members. This allows potential clients to find VAs within the organization who meet their business needs, and provides VAs with access to business opportunities that they might not have otherwise found.

If you want to learn more about virtual assistant training and courses, check out the business programs at Bryant and Stratton College or contact our admissions office.


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