How you can become a Celebrity PA
This is a question we're asked ALL THE TIME. It's a career goal for many assistants. The perception of the role is that of a glamorous, exciting, fast-paced 'lifestyle' job, with automatic access into a world of opportunity and luxury. The reality is often very different, however, and we're here to help explain why.
If you walked into Sidekicks HQ and told us that you'd like to become a celebrity PA, we'd first ask you to clarify what you mean by 'celebrity'.
Do you mean that you'd like to work for a very well-known person – a famous face? Or would you actually like to work for someone successful in their field – a businessperson or entrepreneur, perhaps?
The brutal reality of working for a celebrity often (but not always) means being one of a team of assistants, working backbreakingly long hours - and all of this for a lower salary than you'd attract elsewhere. The perceived prestige which comes from being an assistant to a global superstar means that celebrities rarely struggle with candidate attraction, and generally don't need to work hard to entice the best candidates to work for them. This, in turn, means that the bottom line – the salary – has much less need to be ultra competitive.
Often, when we drill down to what it is a candidate really, truly wants, it's to be given the chance to support someone in every aspect of their lives – running their private and business worlds – rather than just being there for them nine to five, in the office.
This desire is a really healthy sign that an Assistant is very good at - and very committed to - his or her job. It's natural to look at ways to keep improving, and one of those ways is being able to move into offering a true 1:1, 'right hand' service rather than simply supporting at a peripheral level. Call it what you will: Private PA, Lifestyle Assistant, Family PA - this truly does mean moving into a different level of assistance.
The perks of this type of role can be enormous; increased trust, much more variety within your work, the opportunity to really take ownership of your role. Supporting someone like a shadow – constantly anticipating their needs and knowing that they couldn't live their life anywhere near as effectively without you. It's a fantastic feeling, but it's important too to recognise the downsides of life as a sole PA without the support of a large corporate structure. It's often lonely at the top, and you will need to be relisiliant, secure in your own company, and very confident in your own judgement; you'll have sole responsibility for everything, and that's a very visible place – there's nowhere to hide, often nobody to delegate to.In addition, some of the initial attractions of the job (global travel, for example) will quickly become difficult unless you prepare for the realities of the day-to-day. Do those white sandy beaches still seem so glorious when you are run ragged looking after your Principal, you haven't slept or showered in two days and haven't seen your family for six weeks straight?
We're not saying that well-paid celebrity assistant roles don't come up – they do, and many of them offer a great deal of longevity and huge scope for personal development. But the point we're making is this: try to think as big and as broad as you can. Be open and be flexible – this doesn't mean compromising on your dreams, it's expanding your opportunities to ensure that they are much more likely to be fulfilled. Hopefully, you'll have a good relationship with a fantastic recruiter who truly knows his or her market. Listen to them and help them help you: they are your trusted partner and their advice is invaluable.
Ultimately, your career is in your hands and you know what's going to make you feel happy and fulfilled every day, so do your research and never turn down an opportunity to interview. You never know whom you might meet, or where it may lead.