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Although the specific job duties can vary widely depending on the function of the organization for which they are employed, most special assistants act as surrogates and counselors for their superior, generally a person of some importance. Unlike administrative assistants, most special assistants have a significant amount of autonomy and managerial power.
Most special assistants are vested with the authority to represent their superior at events that they do not attend, such as organizational meetings or public forums. The special assistant often acts as a mouthpiece for their boss, speaking on their behalf and making decisions in their name.
Special assistants are usually responsible for keeping their superior apprised on any number of issues assigned to this. This can include information gathered at the events the special assistant has attended in their superior's stead or other significant information gathered in the course of performing their official duties.
Unlike administrative assistants, many special assistants are responsible for designing and implementing programs that help carry out their superior's assigned duties. This requires the special assistant to have significant experience in their supervisor's field.
Many special assistants will also be responsible for evaluating projects whose operation is within their superior's purview. This will include gathering data about the program, analyzing it, and making a determination as to its success and efficiency.
Special assistants will usually need to conduct significant amounts of research that they will then synthesize and present to their superior or other parties as directed. This research may be statistical, historical or administrative in nature and may require the consultation of both written documents and the interviewing of relevant people.
Often, special assistants, acting as their superior's surrogate, will make presentations, providing instruction or presenting the findings of research.
Act As Counselor
Special assistants often act as informal advisers to their superiors, offering counsel about decisions and providing feedback on mooted ideas. This requires that the special assistant be well versed in their superior's affairs, making them, in some ways, less an assistant than a junior colleague.
Special assistants will often supervise staff within their superior's department. This will include identifying vacant positions, advertising for the opening, interviewing potential candidates and training new employees.
One of the more amorphous duties of special assistants is to identify inefficiencies in their organization's operations and suggest corrections. This can take many forms, such as logistical inefficiencies or a misdirection of priorities.
Lastly, good special assistants act as all-purpose trouble-shooters, correcting errors and resolving conflicts whenever they arise to allow their superior to accomplish their tasks without interruption.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.