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Our Voices: Katie Nadeau, Executive Assistant

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Katie-Nadeau-200Underscoring the Importance of Executive Assistance

“There are a lot of stereotypes about this profession,” said Katie Nadeau, executive assistant to the CEO of the Minnesota Business Partnership (MBP). “But what it comes down to is that companies are looking for people who can actually deliver administrative support—and good administrators are leaders in their companies.”

Once slated as secretaries, executive assistants are charged with ever-increasing duties requiring data, privacy, detail and quick action. “To support a CEO requires not just office skills but also communication leadership and longer days than your boss,” said Katie. “Not many people understand how significant the role is, but executive assistants (EAs) have to know more than how to type; they need to understand and advance the priorities of their company.”

When Katie assumed her role with the MBP 11 years ago, she saw an opportunity to connect with fellow executive assistants. “I came from working in a small construction company and later with the Minnesota House of Representatives,” she said. “What I quickly found in my current position is that our members’ executive assistants are a tremendous resource not only to me, but to their company and the broader business community as well. I reached out to the other assistants and built a fantastic network of connections.”

That network eventually led her to MCTC.

On any given day, 850 of approximately 12,000 total administrative assistant jobs in Downtown Minneapolis are open, according to MCTC Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Mike Christenson. When Katie met Mike, she learned about the College’s Business Office Technology (BTEC) program which trains students for administrative assistant careers throughout the Twin Cities. “One of my first experiences with MCTC was connecting with the students,” said Katie. “After that, I recruited EAs to work with faculty to align the curriculum with skills that we knew were the biggest priorities in the executive assistant community.” The group, which included EAs from Target, Accenture, Tennant, PwC and MOM Brands, worked with BTEC instructors to design curriculum highlighting resume writing, interviewing skills, data security, paying attention to detail and other keys to success. She also helped the College build its connections with local companies to grow BTEC students’ internship opportunities.

“The BTEC program at MCTC has worked hard to reinvent itself. I’m grateful to the school for addressing the needs of Minnesota’s businesses by offering what has to be one of the best business support programs in the state,” said Katie, who also sits on the BTEC advisory committee that she and the College established over the last year. “It speaks to the dedication of the instructors and of the local executive assistant community that is committed to seeing this project succeed.”

“This partnership shows MCTC students how important these jobs are in our community.”

Published May 2015

Felisha Burns: Seeking a Career, Not Just a Job

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by insidemctc 1 Comment

Felisha Burns, MCTC alumFelisha Burns had to grow up fast.

A native of South Minneapolis, she lost her mother at age 13. “My dad raised me, but he worked a lot,” she said. “He worked second shift at the postal service. If I got home from school and he wasn’t there, I had to work things out for myself.”

She began working at age 14—first at Burger King, then at a gas station near Loring Park in Downtown Minneapolis. “I worked there for awhile and made enough to pay for my own place. It was great while I was young, but eventually I asked myself if I wanted to be doing that for the rest of my life.”

When Felisha’s cousin told her she was considering going back to school, Felisha realized it was a great next step. “We did it together,” she said. “That’s when my journey began.”

When Felisha began studying at the school then known as Minneapolis Community College (MCC), she focused her energy on acquiring one degree. “When I was done just two years later, the college was called MCTC, and I had five diplomas and certificates.”

Felisha knew she wanted to work in a business office, and throughout her studies in Business Office Technology picked up skills in keyboarding, data entry, business math and specialized office support. She needed a job to support herself during school, and started working at TCF Bank, where she would stay for five years. During her time at MCTC, Felisha was invited to participate in a business speaking competition in Duluth. “I was surprised my instructor asked me, but she believed I could succeed,” she said. “When I arrived at the competition and drew a random speech topic, it turned out to be the same topic I focused on all semester in class. I knew I could deliver that speech.”

As graduation grew closer, Felisha grew into her adult self. “When my classmates and I first started at the College, we didn’t have a clue who each other was,” she said. “But the closer I got to graduation, the more nervous I was, and my classmates felt the same way. We all had things going on in our lives. We all knew what our goals were and we all supported each other.” Felisha and her classmates attended graduation together in the Northrup Auditorium.

Furthering her career, Felisha moved from TCF to a position with Hennepin County, where she provided economic assistance to elderly or disabled individuals. “I worked there for another five years,” said Felisha. “It gave me an understanding of our society and people who are in need. Ever since then I’ve been committed to working with people in need. I love it.”

Now, 15 years after she graduated from MCTC, Felisha works with the City of Minneapolis, working as a personal assistant and attending outreach events. “I work with the Step Up program, adults, dislocated workers, families and high school age students,” she said. “Whenever I see young people come in, I ask if they’re planning to go to school.”

Felisha looks back at the last two decades and sees much to be proud of. “I went from low income to the middle class,” she said. “I tell other young people that I had to grow up fast, and if I can make this success happen, so can they. Along the way they’ll meet some amazing people, and they just need to start the process.”