Personal Assistant to Recording Artist
How To Become a Personal Assistant to Recording Artist
“A Personal Assistant really handles anything and everything that pops up in the boss’ life,” says Rachel Zaslansky Sheer, the Los Angeles-based founder of The Grapevine Agency, a staffing firm specializing in entertainment industry Assistants. “Typically there is no true job description as it is different every day! It’s a lifestyle role and to be successful you must have no ego and be able to flow with an ever-changing schedule and work on the go.” Personal Assistants handle the day-to-day tasks of their employer’s professional and personal life, including running errands, making travel arrangements, shopping, screening phone calls, scheduling, and whatever else comes up.
“You can only grow if there is a business in place that you move into,” Sheer says. For example, a PA’s celebrity employer might run their own record label or clothing line, in which case a Personal Assistant might be able to secure a higher paying job with more responsibility and different job duties within this company. For a career PA, however, advancement would mean working for a more well-known artist. “Our PA’s grow in salary and stay in the same role,” she adds.
Education & Training
Personal Assistants are not required to hold an advanced degree, but on-the-job training in a similar role is essential when applying for jobs. Sheer says, “I don’t think this is the type of job that requires specific training or school, [it’s] more based on personality type, organizational skills, and flex[ibility]!”
Experience & Skills
“This is a job for someone who has common sense, is great at thinking 10 steps ahead, doesn’t require a lot of sleep and has no ego,” Sheer says. Depending on the demands of the particular position, some form of Assistant experience and related job references may be necessary. Almost all Personal Assistant jobs will require a valid driver’s license.
According to Sheer, the type of person who would make a good Personal Assistant is “someone who is FLEX, easy going, detail-oriented and can go with the flow and not take things personally…and doesn’t require a ton of down/personal time.” Since they’re often around their employer’s family and friends, Celebrity Personal Assistants must also be responsible, reliable, and trustworthy.
Since Personal Assistants are their employer’s right-hand man or woman, the lifestyle is demanding. “This is a 24/7 lifestyle position, no clock watchers!!!” Sheer says. PA’s are always on call and can be contacted by their employer day or night. If their boss has to be on set to shoot a music video at 5 am, more often than not, the PA will also be on set at 5 am. The needs of the employer come first, so maintaining a social life or working on creative projects of their own can be challenging for a PA.
To get hired by a celebrity Recording Artist, Personal Assistants must already have some solid professional Assistant experience under their belt. They can gain this by working in fields that are not quite as competitive as the entertainment industry, such as the business world, where Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants, and Administrative Assistants are always needed. “I would say start with a low-level PA job, basic errand running, etc. and move up to a bigger, more important boss, which comes with more hours and more pay!” Sheer says.
Personal Assistants are salaried or receive hourly wages. Since they’re integral to their employer’s business and personal lives and can be called in for assistance at almost any time, compensation is commensurate. In general, an entry-level salary starts at $40,000, and PA’s with more experience, working for more famous employers, can earn upwards of $100,000 a year.
Unions, Groups & Associations
A PA can join The Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants, but being a member of a professional organization can be tricky due to the confidential nature of the work. Sheer doesn’t think it’s necessary to join one because “sometimes it works against them, as clients get nervous when they see their PA is a part of a group (for privacy reasons).” Online job resources, however, can be helpful, as many PA staffing firms post their openings online.
- “Move to LA and start networking! Everyone has a PA here,” Sheer says. (PA jobs are mainly found in major cities like New York or Los Angeles.)
- Check staffing agencies’ online job postings to find positions relevant to your skill and experience level.
- Get experience by working as an Assistant for non-celebrity clients.
- Build your resume by working in related jobs, such as a Nanny, Personal Shopper, Executive Assistant or Administrative Assistant.
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Make sure you are really OK with the 24/7 on-call lifestyle, as there is a big burnout rate.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“Going in trying to get promoted. Often there is no room to grow in this type of role. It’s more of a career PA that people want to hire, so think long-term!”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“How much travel is expected.”
If you could describe in one word what makes a PA successful, what would it be?
“MINDREADER…..or is that two words ;)”
Rachel Zaslansky Sheer is the founder of the The Grapevine Agency, a bicoastal corporate and domestic staffing firm. She is the head of the corporate division and specializes in staffing jobs within the entertainment industry. She brings with her eight years of experience as a Corporate Recruiter. She also worked as an Executive Assistant to Kevin Huvane, Managing Partner of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Before joining Huvane’s team, Rachel worked for two talent agents in the Motion Picture department of CAA.