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How to Become a Personal Assistant to the Wealthy
If you're seeking a glamorous career, becoming the personal assistant to a celebrity, politician or wealthy captain of industry is an exciting choice that allows you to manage the day-to-day needs of busy professionals and enjoy an insider's view of the rich and famous lifestyle. Excellent communication and organization skills, diplomacy, discretion, networking expertise and the ability to work well under pressure are desirable traits for personal assistants that are rarely advertised in the classifieds.
Relocate to a major city where prospective wealthy clientele reside and do business. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, London, Paris and Zurich are just a few. Find an internship or assistant position in the industry that most appeals to you—film, music, politics, finance—and start networking with associates who can tip you off to potential openings for personal assistants. Register with a placement agency that specializes in executive staffing for elite clientele such as authors, athletes, wealthy families, CEOs, and members of the entertainment industry.
Educate yourself on every aspect of your dream client's industry so you can talk intelligently about it, understand the multiplicity of factors that impact its growth or stagnation, and learn to identify the public and private resources you'll need to get exactly what your client wants. If you've already scoped out the dream client you want to work for, you'll also need to research everything that makes her tick— favorite designers, restaurants, hotels and airlines, as well as who she loves, hates, tolerates and sends fruit baskets. Befriend those who are already part of her inner circle. If she has given interviews or written books about herself or her chosen industry, read them cover to cover and take notes.
Enroll in classes to learn the rudiments of event planning, household management, etiquette, personal shopping and travel coordination. Many of these classes are offered through community colleges and extended learning programs. If your dream client frequently goes abroad on business, familiarize yourself with the customs of each country. Learn foreign languages to facilitate negotiations and social interactions. Reinvent your personal image and demeanor to be consistent with your wealthy employer's expectations of polish and perfection. Not only will you often be the first point of contact for those who want access to your boss but may also be required to make personal appearances on his behalf.
Direct a letter of inquiry along with your resume to your dream client's manager, agent, publicist or director of human resources. Although there may not be a current opening for your personal assistant services, they may be able to direct you to other moguls in need of the qualifications you offer. If you do score an interview, practice for it with friends so you can anticipate anything the client might ask. Stay calm, focused and do not gush and giggle. Treat the experience as you would any other job interview. Follow up with a written thank-you.
If you have never acted before, take some classes in improvisational theater. It's good training for being able to think fast on your feet in a social emergency.
For practice, volunteer to be a personal assistant for a week to someone who is not a high-profile client. This will give you a sense of what it's like to be on call 24/7 and perform a variety of errands such as shopping, setting appointments, picking out clothes and taking pets to the groomers.
Confidentiality is essential if you want to hold on to your job as a personal assistant. As tempting as it may be to amuse your friends with stories about what your rock star boss is really like in person, word travels fast in celebrity circles and no one will want to trust you again if it gets out that you can't keep your lips zipped.
- "Be the Ultimate Assistant: A Celebrity Assistant's secrets to Working With Any High-Powered Employer"; Bonnie Low-Kramen; 2008
- "The Essential Handbook For Personal Assistants: Tools For Becoming Or Hiring The Ultimate Personal Assistant"; Craig Copeland; 2009
- "Beyond the Red Carpet: Keys to Becoming a Successful Personal Assistant"; Dionne Muhammad; 2004
Ghostwriter and film consultant Christina Hamlett has written professionally since 1970. Her credits include many books, plays, optioned features, articles and interviews. Publishers include HarperCollins, Michael Wiese Productions, "PLAYS," "Writer's Digest" and "The Writer." She holds a B.A. in communications (emphasis on audience analysis and message design) from California State University, Sacramento. She also travels extensively and is a gourmet chef.