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Climbing The Career Ladder (Or Beanstalk) Millennial Style

I’ve just watched a representation on Millennial Personal Assistants so I could provide feedback to a journalist who’s writing an article on Millennials and the role of the EA/PA. It’s a Netflix movie called “Set It Up”.

The first few minutes paint a picture of bosses and Millennial assistants that is simply terrifying. The montage is a collection of bosses demonstrating appalling indulged behaviour and assistants doing excellent impersonations of a doormat. 

Is this reality? I don’t know. I’m about as far from being a Millennial as Donald Trump is from being a feminist. 

I can imagine that this movie is accurately depicting the predicament of Millennials emerging from college and university into a world that doesn’t seem to pay any respect to their qualification and talents. 

When you’re setting out on your career it can seem like you’re Jack (or Jill) clambering up the beanstalk. Far above you in the clouds is the golden egg and you need to single-mindedly climb up, up, up and deal with giants along the way in order to get your career happy ending. 

There’s ‘luck’ involved and if this Netflix movie is to be believed the grit that’s required is to outlast and outplay everyone else around you. 

Knowing your boss is about knowing how you can manipulate them to get ahead and “get them to do anything”. 

According to the protagonists you need to save yourself from your ogre boss.

What a bleak beanstalk (or ladder) to climb.

Am I looking at this across a generational abyss or is it simply a benefit of having the perspective of age (or is it both).

I tell any Millennial I get the chance to speak to avoid thinking about your career as a ladder. Instead, I counsel them to think of it as one of those spider frames you find in a playground. 

You can climb vertically, horizontally and diagonally and you can also go backwards should that make sense. Cue the look of panic on their young faces but with the benefit of hindsight I can say that this is exactly what my career has looked like and had I embraced those opportunities to move in a direction that wasn’t just upward I would have been a happier person and not put quite so much pressure on myself.

Feeling forced into making a move other than upwards has resulted from external factors like the economy and business conditions as well as internal factors like self doubt and losing confidence after having children. There’s also been times where it’s a combination of internal and external factors at work. 

The important thing is that wherever you find yourself on the career spider frame you look around and enjoy the view rather than just fixating on where you think you should be. 

What is the advice you would give to your younger self?

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Liz Van Vliet - My EA Career

Meet Liz

I work with executive assistants and administrative assistants to equip them with the skills and confidence they need to influence more effectively and demonstrate the leadership and interpersonal skills to make them a 'linchpin' to their boss and organisation.

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