John C. Havens
As a celebrity personal assistant you can earn up to $100,000 per year, and enjoy an incredible lifestyle that most people can only dream about. In return for screening fan mail, answering phones, and planning parties, celebrity personal assistants are allowed to enter an exclusive world and live like a star.
After all, celebrities need to buy groceries and schedule doctor's appointments just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else they also have movie shoots, important meetings, and volumes of phone calls to make. The personal assistant makes sure that everything gets done, allowing the celebrity to enjoy a semi-private life. A good "CPA" functions as coordinator, accountant, and just about anything else that a famous person might require. They offer organization and peace of mind to those who need it the most.
CPA perks often include tickets to sold out concerts, first-class air travel, expensive gifts, and great gossip about what other celebrities are really like. Does this sound like a great day at work to you? If so, here are 10 steps to breaking into this growing field of employment, based on the Guide to Become a Celebrity Personal Assistant.
1. Choose a Type of Celebrity
Actors and rock stars are not the only ones who need personal assistants. You could decide to assist professional athletes, politicians, directors, bestselling authors, wealthy families, motivational speakers, dot-com millionaires… basically anyone with enough money can hire someone to be a personal assistant. It's probably best to work for someone in a field you're interested in, because the more you know, the more you have to offer. Potential employers will find you more appealing as a new hire.
2. Develop Your Skills
CPAs need to know a little bit about everything, and know where to find out more. Celebrities are currently looking for internet-savvy, technologically competent employees who can show them how to transfer information from their palm pilot to the computer, send an e-greeting to Mom, or keep track of their personal finances.
Most celebrities are also interested in your typing skills, etiquette knowledge, and party planning or gift buying ability. Above all, celebrities need to know that you will not reveal their intimate secrets to the National Enquirer, so make sure you get used to practicing the art of discretion as well.
3. Get Some Training
There is currently no formal long-term education program to become a personal assistant, but you can develop many of the necessary skills in related programs, such as computer courses, household management courses (for butlers and household managers) and event planning courses offered by community colleges.
4. Get Some Experience
One great way to learn the skills of being a celebrity personal assistant is to be a non-celebrity PA first. You may even discover that being a personal assistant to a non-celebrity is more your speed if you really enjoy organizing but don’t like the stress of the celebrity lifestyle.
5. Find a Job Opening
Networking is an important first step: let everyone know that you are a CPA who is looking for work. Think about all of the people you know, family and friends alike. In that vast network, is there anyone who is closer to a celebrity than you are? You can also meet celebrities through volunteering, working as a production assistant on a movie set, and job listings.
6. Contact a Celebrity
Although you may not speak with the celebrities themselves, you can usually get in touch with their publicist, agent or even their current personal assistant. Even if they aren't looking for an assistant immediately, they may have an opening in the future or know someone who does. There are many books and websites available that list addresses and contact information for celebrities.
7. Avoid Common Mistakes
It would be great if you could just strike up a conversation with someone like an agent and get an immediate referral to a celebrity. However, most people who are starting out don’t find it easy to say the right things off the top of their head. This is when having a script can be a tremendous help. A script is simply an outline of what you want to say. To sound like a professional avoid disclosing too much personal information about yourself, sounding too eager, or mentioning that you are hoping to launch your own showbiz career. Instead, focus on what you have to offer the celebrity.
8. Join an Agency
Most CPAs agree that this is a great inroad into the industry. Once you’ve located one (more than a dozen agencies are listed in the Guide to Become a Celebrity Personal Assistant), send a brief email query asking who you should contact about becoming a CPA for one of their clients. Sign up with as many agencies as possible.
9. Ace the Interview
According to Jonathan Holiff, former personal assistant to several celebrities, "Assuming you have the skills and the temperament, it really comes down to a personality match." You will more than likely have to go through a number of interviews before you get to meet your celebrity. Don’t let it faze you; just be honest and direct with everyone you meet. And when you meet your celebrity? Don't gush. Concentrate on being professional and establishing an immediate rapport with them.
10. Join Professional Organizations
There are professional organizations that assist celebrity personal assistants with their career development. Once you start working as a CPA, you will be able to join these organizations and they will become an invaluable source of support and information.
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