Administrative professionals take care of business

They’re everywhere, and we’re glad they are.

We’re talking about administrative professionals. The ones that schedule, code, file, smile, arrange, e-mail, and attend to details.

Students work on CPT coding skills.

“I can’t think of a business that doesn’t have administrative professionals,” said Tracy Eades, department head of Northeast State’s Administrative Professional Technology program. “There’s a genuine need for their behind-the-scenes skills.”

Northeast State’s Administrative Professional Technology (APT) degree program offers three concentrations: Business Office, Legal Office, and Medical Office.  Each concentration shares common courses such as Business Communications, Spreadsheet Applications, and Office Procedures before branching into courses tailored for each particular concentration.

Each requires 60 total credit hours and graduates are awarded an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) degree. Students that complete the program may take the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification exams. Also, students pursuing the Medical Office Concentration may take the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam offered by AAPC.

Eades said the common courses allow students to acquire basic office skills while also polishing the soft skills of office etiquette. Students learn to plan events, create agendas, and format other business correspondence. They also learn to interact with the public and how to dress professionally.

“We’re not just teaching word processing; we’re teaching them how to be professional in a business environment,” said Eades. “I tell the students when they walk into my classroom, they’ve walked into a business office, and they work for me.”

Eades said many of her students are non-traditional, meaning they may be returning to the classroom after being out of school for many years or enrolling because they lost their jobs due to an economic downturn. “It’s hard for some of them to talk positively about themselves because they only see negatives,” said Eades. “We work with them to bring out skills they don’t think they have.”

Administrative professionals are detail-oriented, confident, well-spoken, and flexible.

Sharon Riddle, an APT instructor, related an example of this practice. Riddle said this semester she has an introverted student who does excellent work, but always sits on the back row and never asks questions. Hoping to shine a light on the student’s potential, Riddle recently asked the student to serve as a team leader on a team project. At first reluctant, the student rallied and went to work organizing her team.

“She came up and thanked me for putting her in that position,” said Riddle. “She said she’s going to work hard and wants me to be proud of her because she’s going to do a good job. Her leadership abilities were there; I was just trying to get her to realize she had them.”

Administrative professionals are detail-oriented, confident, well-spoken, and flexible

Eades and Riddle stated the program works to give students real-world experience. One example is the capstone experience class that integrates skills obtained throughout the course of the program. The goal is to help students extend these skills in a variety of virtual team projects.

“They have to plan a project, schedule meetings, develop a budget, do research, and learn to use apps like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to share information,” said Riddle. “It helps them to see what it’s like to work and interact as a team.”

During their studies, students also take part in career planning and self-assessment, create professional resumes, and cover letters. Instructors also bring business and industry experts in to conduct mock interviews and give tips on how to dress for success and speak professionally.

“The students enjoy those sessions,” said Eades. “It gives them a good idea of what to expect in the real world.”

Eades said successful administrative professionals are detail-oriented, confident, well-spoken, and flexible with a desire to help others.

“Managers and supervisors are always going to need support staff to do paperwork, plan events, check in patients, design flyers, and all the other things that make an office run smoothly,” said Eades. “They work behind the scenes and may not have a gold star on them that says ‘look at me,’ but if it were not for them, all the things we take for granted wouldn’t get done.”

Riddle summarizes: “We’re everywhere in every business.”

And we’re glad they are.

For more information about the APT program, contact:

Tracy Eades
Department Head/Associate Professor
Administration Professional Technology
423.354.2575
tmeades@NortheastState.edu