Part 3 – The Attitude to Progress and Survive
I’m not going to lie to you. Progressing and moving up as a VA isn’t always a walk in the park. It takes a particular amount of strength and perseverance to mould yourself into the kind of versatile worker that employers want. There’ll be a lot thrown your way that might be unfamiliar to you, but my biggest recommendation is to transform your attitude into one that is willing and excited to learn new things. (I’ll talk about ‘challenges’ next time just because I think that they play a very important role for VAs).
When I first started with an Australian digital marketing company, there was a lot that I didn’t know. I came from an English literature (and agricultural engineering) background, which usually doesn’t involve data mining, link audits and website health checks. I lived by a “fake it ‘til you make it” mindset. When I was given tasks that I was unfamiliar with, my attitude wasn’t to give up. It wasn’t to complain. It wasn’t to look for easier work.
The reason why I was able to progress to team manager, a VA that can monitor other VAs, is because the attitude I have, to this day, is to be willing to learn more and improve myself at every opportunity. Every time I’ve encountered an unfamiliar task I’ve rolled up my sleeves and learnt it. It was a lot of self-studying and heaps of extra work. Whether it was learning new skills, honing my existing ones or even adjusting to Aussie English. I self-studied, learned, and just did it.
This cycle doesn’t end after one round. I went through this self-learning for every new company I joined and it was tough. At times, things become overwhelming with all the expectations thrust upon you, from the company and from yourself, and even the limits of your physical capacity. I can’t make that go away with magical words. Some harsh but honest advice that I will give you is to put on a strong front, put your struggles and setbacks aside, and work hard to conquer these challenges. Just remember that every short term struggle that you conquer builds you up further and helps you add value to yourself.
Having a lot of skills from the get go is obviously something that employers will look for, but more important than that is becoming the kind of VA that will be willing to learn those skills and be willing to put in the effort to become more.