Secretaries work for several people and are members of the management team of an office. They may be employed by an agency or work for a particular organisation in the private or public sector. Secretaries may be referred to as personal assistants, private secretaries or executive secretaries.
Secretaries should have a general understanding of the pattern of the business in which their firm is involved in and a more detailed grasp of the work of their own organisation. Secretaries must understand enough about their boss's work to know when not to waste his/her time by asking useless questions and when to ask what to do or say
A good secretary is supposed to be indispensable no matter what the areas of work are. Secretaries are expected to relieve the boss of as much routine work as possible trying to anticipate the boss's wishes and actions and, in general, acting as a buffer between his/her work and those who lay claim to his/her time. A good secretary has to be in the background keeping the office wheels well-oiled and smoothly functioning. Secretaries are there to ensure that everything goes well, ensure that their bosses do not forget anything, but should not expect to be given credit of praise if they do their job right.
Nature of Work
Secretarial work is difficult to define since the nature of work differs,from organisation to organisation, the executive/boss (to whom a secretary is attached), the nature of the boss's work/ job. A secretary is often attached to one person and is supposed to work only for that person. The secretary is relied upon to make certain minor decisions in the boss's absence or while he/she is busy.
A secretary's work is varied — preparing agendas for meetings, collecting documents to support the various items, and distributing them to the people concerned. Usually secretaries write some letters, memos, etc., on their own, draft some for their boss's approval and signature, summarise lengthy reports and incoming letters for them. They are usually required to take dictation; at a senior level, a junior secretary or typist may do it. Their work may also involve making travel arrangements — domestic and international, arranging meetings for busy people which means contacting other people's secretaries, keeping an appointment diary/directory, taking minutes during meetings. They may also be in charge of a few staff, deal in some petty cash, etc.
The office is their domain of business. Very rarely do secretarial staff travel with their boss on business since they are supposed to take care of the office in his/her absence. Present-day secretaries have to be geared to work with information technology and various sophisticated communication devices. In the private sector, some of the public sector organisations and in multinational companies, high technology is an inherent part of the workplace. This is slowly seeping into government offices though the levels are different between the states and the Central Government
In the USA and UK, there are distinct professional associations for legal secretary, medical secretary and other secretaries. In India this distinction has still to be firmly established but an academic background in the biological sciences plus knowledge of word-processing would be the ideal skills and training for a medical secretary Similarly, secretaries working for legal professionals should be proficient in general secretarial skills and through experience or prior study of law [even a Bachelor of graduate/academic Law] could find it easier.
Legal secretaries should have a high degree of accuracy and be able to concentrate. Medical secretaries need to be good administrators, keep records, handle correspondence, filing and have a thorough knowledge of medical terminology They often handle professional appointments of doctors/consultants.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
Good secretaries are judged by what they do but qualities which help include self-motivation, discretion, tact, loyalty, personality, flexibility, communication skills and smart appearance.
Self-confidence and organising ability coupled with willingness to take orders and responsibility are useful traits for an individual contemplating a secretarial career. Other important skills include the ability to be comfortable with people; a logical and analytical mind; a social temperament; business acumen (for those who wish to progress to executive cadre); a sympathetic nature; a keen desire to be of use; indifference to blame or lack of appreciation; willingness to take on odd jobs; overall general awareness and language fluency.
Secretarial courses are conducted by polytechnics (run by government and other bodies), vocational training institutes and institutes of commercial practice. Many who would like to hold administrative or liaising responsibilities at a higher level should upgrade with short-term public relations/management training or in office automation and use of the latest software packages.
Professional secretarial training is usually spread over 1-2 years (full-time or part-time) and may be undertaken after 10+2 level of education, although some places admit students after successful completion of Matriculation or equivalent examination. It is preferred that one should complete upto 10+2 level of education and then start training.
If advancement to the executive cadre is desired, pursue a graduate programme alongside secretarial training.
Training includes shorthand, typing, learning how to access information from reference books, libraries, government departments and other relevant sources of collecting information; drafting and summarisation of letters, reports, messages, memos, etc, exposure to business practices. Today, computer literacy is a must for all secretaries.
Qualified secretaries can have their pick of jobs especially in the corporate centres of the country. Cities with more corporate activity offer more and better-paid jobs. Good, efficient secretaries who take pride and interest in their work can always quote their price/remuneration. Naturally, experience is built up over some years and secretaries move up, according to their efficiency, to more important assignments.
Secretaries with foreign language skills would be invaluable in international organisations, consulate/embassy offices, certain industries and firms, translating firms, etc. Secretaries working in advertising firms, film units and the like can pick up professional work over a period of time. The work environment is most comfortable with all the amenities and status enjoyed by a secretary being dependent on the status of the boss. As corporate activity increases so will secretarial job openings.
In the government and public sector undertakings, the intake of secretarial staff is usually in the form of clerical/assistant cadre recruitment. For those with shorthand and typing skills and at least Plus Two, there are various competitive examinations to place you.
[Look out for notification of Combined (Matric Level) Examination conducted by Staff Selection Commission for Grade 'C' and Grade 'D' Stenographer in Employment News/Rozgar Samachar]
[For bank clerical cadre — refer Banking]
Usually senior secretaries hold the position of personal assistant of a senior executive when they assume responsibility without direct supervision and take decisions within the scope of assigned authority. Senior secretarial staff can set up their own agencies supplying quality secretarial staff to various organisations in need of efficient services.
Advancement opportunities into junior management cadres are possible for those who apply against graduate-level entry and have gained quality work experience.
Institute of Qualified Private Secretaries (IQPS), First Floor, 6 Bridge Avenue, Maidenhead SL6 1RR
For information on the Certified Professional Secretary designation, contact: Professional Secretaries International, P.O. Box 20404, Kansas City, MO 64195-0404 Homepage: http://www.gvi.net/ps
Careers Without a Professional Degree
LIST OF TRAINING INSTITUTIONS
Secretarial Training is usually of 1-year duration
Minimum Entry Level is 10+2
Graduation is helpful for better growth prospects.
1. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, 5 New Katra Road, Allahabad-211002
2. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, Hosur Road, Bangalore-560029
3. S C S Kothari Academy for Women, S B K House, 17 Venkatapathi Street, Kilpauk, Chennai-600010
Phone: 6460558/0820; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, Nanda Nagar, ITI Campus, Indore-452003
5. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, ITI for Women, Banipark, Jaipur-302016
6. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, 10 & 10/1 Graham Road, KoIkata-700019
7. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, Kashinath Dhru Street, Dadar W Mumbai-400028
8. YWCA of Delhi, Women's Training Institute, Bangla Sahib Lane, New Delhi-110001
9. Institute for Vocational Studies, YMCA of Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi-110013
Phone: 24624061, 24699405; Extn 41
10. South Delhi Polytechnic for Women, Behind Lady Shri Ram College, Lajpat Nagar IV, New Delhi-110024
Phone: 26462941, 26482298, Fax:011-26474425; www.polytechriic-sdpw.com
11. Polytechnic for Women, A-3 South Extension I, Ring Road, NewDelhi-110049
Phone: 24624049, 24699855, 24623517; Fax: (Oil) 24644500 www.womenpoly.com
12. New Delhi YMCA, Institute of Office Management (Formerly Institute for Secretarial Services), Jai Singh Road, NewDelhi-110001
Phone: 23361108/1915 Ext 115; E-mail: email@example.com
13. Department of Training & Technical Education, Muni Maya Ram Marg, Pitam Pura, New Delhi-110034
14. College of Vocational Studies, Triveni (Sheikh Sarai)-II, New Delhi-110017 [Office Management & Secretarial Practice)
15. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, Thankti Satak, New Subzi Mandi, Hisar-125001
16. National Vocational Training Institute for Women, Sector I, NOIDA-201301
17. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, Kazhakuttom, Trivandrum-695582
18. Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women, ITI Campus, Tarsali Road, Vadodara-390009
Listing is indicative
For specific local information, contact:
* University/College/Vocational training Institute.
* Directorate of Vocational Education & Training for your region for listing of the courses offered by institutions within their jurisdiction.
* Private vocational training institutes, polytechnics, women's polytechnics, commercial training centres/colleges.