I’d been thinking about various “holidays” this week. A few days ago it was Earth Day. Today, in some parts of the world it is “Administrative Professionals Day”. It is also my Birthday. It’s nice having a birthday the same week as our planet’s, and I AM an administrative professional. It’s what I do. Administrate! Administrate! The administrators holiday was created (I had thought, perhaps, by the greeting card or floral industries) to acknowledge “support personnel”.
I had thought, without doing any research whatsoever, that this holiday was meant to throw a carrot to those that are often taken for granted in business. But…I was wrong. According to Wikipaedia (which is always right…right?) the holiday, originally called “Secretary’s Day” was formed partially as a recruiting tool! In the 1950s there was an apparent shortage of office workers. That has NOT been the case in my lifetime; it has been my experience that office work was hard to come by.
The original objective was to recognize “the secretary, upon whose skills, loyalty, and efficiency the functions of business and government offices depend,” and to call attention “through favorable publicity, to the tremendous potential of the secretarial career.” (from Wiki)
I still think there is tremendous potential in administrative work, but somewhere along the line, this career path did not get the recognition it deserved. When I was just starting out in the working world, the holiday was still called “Secretary’s Day”, and on that day, one of my “bosses” gave me a gift, and said “Happy Secretary’s Day!” I appreciated the recognition, but I wanted to scream “I am NOT a secretary!” (I was an assistant bookkeeper and receptionist at the time.)
Now I look back on that, and wonder why I wanted to disassociate myself so much from that title. I was not, technically, a secretary, but I did do many of the things that one would do, including typing the occasional letter. (We were not a very communicative company, so there were not a lot of those. I did prepare invoices, though, so that was sort of similar.)
Now, I am a self-employed administrative professional. I administrate myself, and I administrate FOR others. I support but I also lead and direct. The word “administer” has many meanings from old French and Latin, such as: “help, aid, be of service to, manage, control, guide, superintend; rule”. I do all those things (well…”rule”?) so “Administrative Professional” is the right title for me.
On the other hand, the derivation of the word “secretary” is the same as that of the word “secret”. Hmmm, keeper of secrets, presumably for Kings and the high-born. (c. 1400). That’s an interesting gig too!