Why Don’t More Executive Assistants Attend Their Profession’s Conferences?

Why don't more assistants care enough about their profession to attend a conference specifically designed for them?If you have been reading my previous blogs, you know by now that I am attending my professional career big industry conference in Dallas. There are about 9,000 attendees. People who have called education, training and organizational development their career of choice are adamant about attending educational conferences focused on their career.


This made me think about why don’t more administrative and executive assistants attend conferences specifically related to their career of choice. There are 4 million administrative professionals in the United States and yet it is a very small percentage who attend any type of administrative-focused conference. The largest attendance number I’ve read at a conference for admins is about 1,800!  That is a mere fraction of 4 million. Our conference is specifically limited to 300 attendees because we have numerous benefits from hosting an intimate event.


  • Is it that assistants don’t take their career seriously enough?
  • Or that they think they don’t need to continue their education?
  • Maybe their executive won’t let them travel?
  • Maybe their company has a policy that says not out-of-out state travel.


More than those reasons, I think assistants don’t ask for it! And even if they do ask and are told “no,” they give up. I know from training administrative professionals for 22+ years, they do not see themselves as sales people or figuring out how to negotiate. For example, “I will pay for my travel expenses, if the company will pay for my registration.” I have also read very recently in industry magazines that other executive assistants are frustrated with their administrative peers that don’t care enough to continue learning. They bring the profession down and cause executives to cut dollars from their learning budgets. Stay on your professional edge – no matter what your age is! I’ve heard it too many times “I’m going to retire in 2-5 years so there’s no point in spending the money.” Are you kidding me? Once you retire the learning doesn’t stay at the office – you take knowledge with you for the rest of your life!


When I was an assistant, I often had to persuade my executives to support my professional development or to change a process. One time, I persuaded my executive to upgrade my job title and give me a $1,500.00 salary increase after six months of being on the job. I got both.


If assistants are so integral to their executive’s success, then they should be allowed to continue their education through conferences, workshops, online classes and joining professional associations.


The first step, though, is an assistant has to be 100% convinced that he or she deserves to attend a conference based on the administrative profession. Then show the ROI (return on investment) to their leader. We have numerous documents on this conference web site for assistants to use to demonstrate the benefits of attending our event, including a personal note from me. Be sure to check them out.


Joan Burge

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