I was never one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to do in life career-wise. My friends at school had all chosen various options for further education. When a few of them decided to do a diploma in nursery nursing I felt it was a good choice. Looking back, I don?t believe I was even slightly aware of the enormous amount of career opportunities available in the world.
After two years as a nanny, I worked in a bar and then I fell into the role of PA to a sports agent and his professional golfers. This was a new challenge in a brand new company that quickly grew from five to 25 players. A role that began with an empty computer and no files soon evolved into one where I was frequently visiting destinations around the world. With so much international travel, my office was a hotel room, a table in a golf club, or a makeshift set-up in an airport.
Four years later I followed my long-standing dream and moved to London. I was working in an office, still in the sports field, but this time in football management. From day one, though, I knew that office life wouldn?t be where I ended up; so I worked hard for a year to find my next role. Scouring recruitment websites and sifting through ads from agencies offering the kind of roles I wanted became part of my daily routine. I reminded people I was still looking every few weeks and went for interviews way out of my league, just to give myself the experience. If I hadn?t done this I would never have met the Hollywood movie star I interviewed with one morning. I wasn?t qualified enough, so went in as the so-called ?underdog? (a description to this day I see as way too negative to be used by the agency that sent me along).
The employer in question talked about me so positively that I was determined to prove myself as a higher level of candidate, capable of going for exactly those kinds of jobs. So when the position of PA to singer Lily Allen came up there was no question I should be put forward ? this time I was completely ready.
I was utterly determined that this job was to be mine. It ticked every box I had in mind for myself: I wanted to learn a new industry, work for one person and travel. And, guess what, after two fantastic interviews I got the job, and started three weeks later. During the following three years I travelled a lot and helped set up new businesses ? I can truly say I loved the experience. It was hard work, busy times indeed, but the best job I?ve ever had and I learned so much. When I left there, I started my own business. Some would say it was a risky move, as even four years down the line, the idea of a professional organiser isn?t that well recognised. But having a diary booked up to eight weeks in advance means I am glad I listened to myself and ignored all those people who doubted me.
I?m certainly not the most academic of people, but I absolutely love what I do, I love interacting with people and I enjoy making their lives better. So what have I learned so far? Trust your instincts and believe that if someone else can achieve their goal, then you can too.
As a PA you have to be totally adaptable to your surroundings, wherever they may be. You have to have the confidence to go with your gut feeling and realise no-one else is going to get you to where you want to be in life. It is your responsibility and although sometimes a large element of luck is involved, hard work and the ability to make sure you stand out from the crowd and go that extra mile are what will help you achieve success in your career.
?The world doesn?t owe you a living? is a saying that has always stuck in my head. You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself, or you can believe you are as good as anyone else. You never know where life will take you and where the opportunities will come from. Work hard at whatever you do, even if you don?t see it as your ultimate choice of career.
I never meant to be a PA, but years in it?s what I?ve found myself doing and I promised myself I would be the best at what I did. And you can be too.
Vicky Silverthorn is a professional organiser and the founder of youneedavicky.com, which offers assistance with home paperwork, wardrobes, general decluttering and house moves. She also runs youneedapa.com, which provides a pay-as-you-go PA service