Bilingual personal assistant

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The role of personal assistants (PAs) and secretaries has changed dramatically over the past decade as personal computers mean that many managers deal with their own correspondence and scheduling. Today's PA is multi-skilled, versatile and closely involved in the decision-making process.

Sharon works as a bilingual PA to the UK managing director of a large french firm. With a love for all things French, she combines her administrative duties in an office where, very often, that is the only language spoken. Rosetta Stone - Learn French

What does a bilingual PA do?

Everything a PA normally does but with the ability to communicate both in English and a foreign language. My employer is French and the main office is in Paris, so I need to carry out my duties in whatever language is used at the time. Sometimes office literature such as forms and letters can be in French, and I may have to deal with colleagues and contacts based overseas on the telephone. Rosetta Stone Spanish: Language-Learning Software.

What about conventional office duties?

I work from 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. doing a wide variety of administrative tasks. These might include managing the director's diary (electronically), arranging meetings via email and phone – and often rearranging, postponing and cancelling them! He does a lot of travelling between the UK and France, and hosts a lot of visits, so I have to arrange transport, accommodation, restaurants, meeting rooms and catering. Other responsibilities include updating our UK website with recent news and information which is often taken from French sources.

How often do you use your languages?

I speak French every day. I use it when liaising with our Paris offices and with French clients. I also participate in a weekly conference call with France. I do a lot of French-English translating, from two-page press releases to 200-slide technical presentations. Rosetta Stone German Language-Learning Software.

How did you get your job as a bilingual PA?

While at university my summer jobs and work placements abroad were all in the administrative field. After graduating, I worked in Paris as a bilingual PA for 12 months before coming back to the UK and getting my current job. It is great because it makes me feel I am still in France.

Do you have a typical day?

I love the range of tasks involved and the fact that no two days are the same. I also enjoy the responsibility involved and the disciplined nature of the job, reporting to someone and handling the tasks that I'm given to do. I get a real insight into the company and what goes on, and that makes the job very interesting.

Whats needed to be a bilingual p.a.?

To do this job well, you need to be professional, calm, discreet, efficient and be willing to take the initiative and assume responsibility. Often, I have to make decisions on behalf of my director and protect him from unwanted interruptions. You also need a good typing speed – a minimum of 45 words a minute – and experience of all the main word processing, spreadsheet and presentation computer programs. Above all, you need a high standard of verbal and written foreign language skills and to be a competent translator.

What are your long-term career goals?

I am happy to continue working as a bilingual PA for the foreseeable future. Eventually, I would like to return to Paris, hopefully within the company.

How do i become a bilingual personal assistant

  • GCSEs
  • A Levels
  • Degree in modern languages with computer software
  • Work placements abroad as part of university course
  • Worked in France after graduation.

How to become a bilingual personal assistant tips

  • Check if your university course can organise work placements abroad. It will provide invaluable insights into different roles and industries.
  • Spending time living and/or working abroad will help your language skills.Rosetta Stone Chinese - Language-learning software

Bilingual personal assistant related jobs

  • Interpreter
  • Personal assistant
  • (PA) Secretary.
  • Supervisor/team leader.
  • Translator.

Bilingual personal assistant salary information

  • Salaries start at around £16,000 per year income. An experienced bilingual personal assistant with a large international organisation could earn wages of £30,000.
  • Knowledge of more unusual languages such as Japanese or Russian, can command higher salaries.

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What do you need to be a bilingual pa?

  • Applicants need to demonstrate secretarial skills and fluency in one or more foreign languages. There are no set academic qualifications, but many candidates have A levels/H grades or a degree in languages. GCSE/S grade (A-C/1-3) English is usually required.
  • Some bilingual secretaries and PAs are modern languages graduates who go onto college afterwards to learn secretarial skills. There are private colleges that offer courses for bilingual secretaries, but these can be very expensive.
  • There are many useful qualifications which cover business, secretarial and language topics. Courses particularly relevant for bilingual secretarial work are: The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board (LCCIEB) European Executive Assistant Certificate for speakers of English, French, German and Spanish. Also, the Institute of Linguists Level 3 Certificate in Bilingual Skills.

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Modified: 16 June 2013

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