When people ask me what I do for a living and I explain that I work as a virtual assistant, I usually get a variety of reactions: confusion (virtual, as in not real?); disbelief (why would you quit your corporate job?); keen interest (could I do that too?); or good-natured condescension (ah yes, telling the managing director what he is doing that day from the comfort of your sofa).
Let’s tackle the first question. What is a virtual assistant? In case you’re wondering, no, you won’t see me magically appear on your screen if you hold your phone. I’m not a Pokémon creature. As a matter of fact, if you hire my services, chances are that you may never see me. Virtual assistants work from home or from their own office premises. With today’s technology, you no longer need to be physically present to carry out all your assignments. Almost everything can be done remotely, hence the growth of a “virtual” side of the profession.
While cutting off or reducing commuting time is sometimes the main reason why someone quits their “traditional” job to become a VA, this was certainly not my main motivation. What I love most about my business is the variety of tasks you are given responsibility for and the clients you get to meet. In the same week, you could be busy organising an exhibition for an artist, planning a business trip for a financial trader, writing a blog for an online shop and screening candidates for a small IT start-up. No two days are the same and you never know what your next assignment will be. Along the way, you get to learn about professions you never came across before, you discover new tools and products that your clients happen to develop or sell, you read about topics that would never have made it on your “must-read” list – all of which contributes to your knowledge of business, technology and the wide, wide world generally. I’ve never had a job that provides you with so much variety and satisfaction.
Can anyone become a virtual assistant? No more or less than anyone can do anything, I suppose. The profession has dramatically evolved over recent years, and sought-after VAs often have a strong background in marketing or accountancy or a former career in a legal profession or design agency. But it is definitely a career that invites people to have a go. If you’re highly motivated and organised, a fast learner and eager to succeed, then there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t make this rewarding profession your own.