I remember being a 14-year-old learning to type – on a manual typewriter! I must have been in one of the last groups in high school that started learning to type on manual typewriters. By the time I hit the age of 15, typing classes were on an electronic typewriter … pre-computer! At the time, I never thought that learning to type would be the beginning of me gaining the skills I needed to become a virtual assistant.
My typing skills have come in handy over the years. As a full-time university student, I financially supported myself. I worked up to 30 hours per week doing office work. By the time I was a third-year university student, I had access to a flatmate’s laptop. We were in many of the same classes and I had a better typing speed, so I got to take the laptop to lectures. This allowed me to type lecture notes rather than hand-write them. This resulted in me being the “go-to” student when other students missed a lecture or tutorial. Those students would ask me for a copy of the lecture or tutorial notes!
This experience not only increased my typing speed. It provided me with exposure to computers generally. My friend’s laptop was a PC and I also used to go to the computer labs on campus which had Apple computers. So I learnt how to use both systems very well. It also meant I learnt how to use Microsoft products.
My exposure to computers, along with my typing skills, served me well during my legal career. This was particularly early on when I did not have access to a secretary – I was my own secretary! This further developed my computer skills, Microsoft Office skills and internet skills.
My experience working in litigation-based law firms proved invaluable. It provided me skills I’ve transferred into my business. A few of these include:
- time management
- research skills
- critical thinking
- drafting skills
- dealing with a wide range of people from varying backgrounds
- oral and written communication.
I then decided to not exclusively work for law firms. This has allowed me to build on my skills across different industries. I also obtained office management experience in a few industries.
Advances in technology, the rise of the internet and social media, and businesses being willing to outsource work has allowed virtual assistants to be a valuable and rewarding career. Virtual assistants are not merely “home-based secretaries”. Many virtual assistants specialise, but all virtual assistants are multi-skilled. This is of benefit to busy individuals, sole traders, and all business!
I never thought that learning to type would lead me to have the skill-set I have today. I also didn’t think that it would lead me to start a virtual assistant business. I’m very happy to be an active participant of the virtual assistant community! You can find out more about the services I offer here.
For those interested in becoming a virtual assistant, there’s some Australian training available. This includes Rosie Shilo’s Stellar VA course and Kathie Thomas’s VA Training. Both Rosie and Kathie are very knowledgeable and they also provide mentoring/coaching.