Stretching Your Qualifications
Taking your basic degree or diploma and making it relevant in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.
If you have a look at the educational backgrounds of Your Virtual Assistant’s (YVA) team members, you’ll see 2 very distinct things. The first is that there are a wide array of qualifications from university bachelor degrees in English, education and accounting, to diplomas in Business Administration, child and youth studies and psychology. The second thing you’ll find is that all of these qualifications, in one way or another, have acted as stepping stones towards the type of Virtual Assistant each of us have become. We’ve all stretched our qualifications in one way or another to suit this – the Virtual Life.
Let’s take a look at just how stretching your qualifications works.
1. Research. This is the part where you have to dig deep. Learn about what your degree, diploma and/or previous experience can do for you. What other options are out there that you might not have considered.
To give you an example, I’m going to us my own qualifications. I have two Bachelor degrees – one in English, the other in Education. I went away to school to become a junior high school English teacher – it was my passion and I was good at it. I climbed the ladder quickly at my first teaching job and enjoyed the climb, the kids, the committees, the coaching, the extra hours – all of it. After we moved to Niagara and started our family, I was ready to start working part-time again, but there was only one problem: in my area there are negative teacher jobs – teachers being declared excess. I couldn’t afford to add to my qualifications at $900/course, so I was left wondering what would happen to me. The other battle was that even if I went back part time, we’d have to pay for childcare and I would end up working simply to pay the childcare provider – this really didn’t seem like a viable option for us.
I started by researching my basic qualifications – what else could a B.A./B.Ed. do for me? This is what I found:
With my 2 degrees, the options for immediate jobs and jobs I could work towards by adding qualifications included:
- government or civil service
- non-profit/charity organizations
- public relations
- editorial/publishing work
- web design
- blogging / content writing
- literary agent
- guidance counselor
- human resources
The list was much longer than I realized and every site I came across stated in some way that those with education degrees generally have fantastic entrepreneurial skills and can self-direct very well. So there was an additional skill set in me that I wasn’t even aware of. Add what all of my previous experience in life and other jobs had given me and the list grew even more! I felt so encouraged by this list!
2. Investigate. What kinds of jobs are hiring – both in your area or the virtual world – that you might be suited for? What kind of job might give you satisfaction – what do you feel called to do? Investigating both the job market and what opportunities there are is just as important as really getting to the root of what you feel like you can and want to do. Spend some real time sifting through your desires and goals and use the current job market to guide you on this journey.
My own ambitions shifted when I became a parent, my students were no longer the centre of my universe once my own children entered the picture. I needed flexibility and deeply desired to work, but in a job that would give me joy and satisfaction as well as flexibility.
3. Stretch Your Qualifications. Put all of your training and experience to work for you! Write a solid resume and cover letter that can be adjusted for each job that you apply for – if you can’t write it well, hire someone who can. It needs to be good. Expand your knowledge in key areas where there has been economical growth and also in the areas that will help you along your desired career path. Be open to considering that future jobs may only be stepping stone toward an ultimate goal, but acquired experience is invaluable and will always help you in the long run.
I took my B.A. and B.Ed. and stretched them in the direction of YVA because it gave me everything I was looking for – a fast-paced, exciting job that has me learning new things every day, flexibility to work when I can and a fantastic team of people that lift me up rather than drag me down when I need them most.
Previously I had never considered that I could be a writer, and yet now I feel like I can actually call myself that and it means something to me, my kids and my husband. I don’t know what the future holds or where this will take me, but I know that right now, this is where I need to be and it’s a great feeling that I wish for all of you out there who aren’t quite sure about your path!