A Critical Evaluation of Cities as Centers for Career Opportunities

Abstract

This cross-sectional study made use of a quantitative research design to comprehensively evaluate what the United States of America has to offer for future management assistant in terms of existing career opportunities and possibilities for advancement in three major cities, namely New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The Model of Spatial Agglomeration was adopted to give the study a theoretical foundation. The city setup was befitting to the study since, according to the model, cities are centers of human concentrations where individuals interrelate with each other in different ways, resulting in an exchange of tangible and intangible products, services, and perceptions.

The results were both interesting and insightful. However, the study revealed that the career opportunities and potential market for future management assistant is expanding, not only in nature and scope, but also in the roles and functions exercised by the assistant. According to the study, the profession is bound to grow more in service-oriented sectors of the economy. This is welcome news for future management assistant as many service-oriented international corporations are setting base in the country, with most of them preferring New York City. Overall, the study established a strong correlation between availability of career opportunities for management assistant and the level of economic, technological and infrastructural development of the selected cities.

Introduction

Background

Today, more than ever before, students across the world are increasingly exercising caution when selecting academic and professional courses due to ever dwindling career opportunities. The present career path reveals that many courses are no longer tenable at the University level due to the fact that their career possibilities have become obsolete (Meury, 2009). However, other courses, especially in management and sciences, are becoming popular by the day judging by the keen interest taken by students in these courses at an international level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009), the Secretarial or Management Assistant course still ranks among those with the highest number of job opportunities as secretaries and management assistants are increasingly taking roles once reserved for senior managers and other professionals. This trend, which has been noted in many civilizations, points to the fact that the function of the traditional secretary is increasingly changing due to a multiplicity of factors, key among them the dependence on technology and organizational restructuring (Rudman, 2005; BLS, 2009).

Major cities around the world offer numerous job openings to secretaries and management assistants upon completion of their respective professional courses. Indeed, more and more cities are providing ready opportunities for this and other types of technical occupations as they continue to evolve in nature and scope (Meury, 2009). In spite of these alterations, however, the basic responsibilities for management assistants have continued much the same: undertaking and organizing an office’s management activities, including storing, retrieving and amalgamating critical information and correspondence for distribution to managers, workers and clients (BLS 2009). It is worthwhile to note that many cities offer job openings based on nature of economic, educational, political and social activities undertaken by organizations and individuals residing in the cities (Beall & Fox, 2009). However, while the relationship between the secretarial occupation and organizations within major cities have been independently evaluated before, few studies have focused on opportunities and possibilities that exist for future management assistants in major US cities.

The opportunities and possibilities of management assistant in major cities across the world are inarguably tied to the roles and job functionalities of this type of occupation (Rudman, 2005). Not only does the role of management assistant merge a number of functions, and is found in every organization, but also the task package is tailored to the circumstances existing on the ground such as segment and size of the organization, leadership and management style, organizational culture, among others (Stroman et al, 2007). This therefore means that the functions of management assistant are not standardized across cities. However, the manager must depend on the management assistant for administrative and organizational functions. In addition to having deep insight to critical organizational activities and approaches, the management assistant must also have the capacity to handle confidential information and data in a discrete manner. The Management assistant also performs a multiplicity of clerical duties required to manage an organization efficiently.

Reliable statistics reveal that “secretaries and administrative assistants held about 4.3 million jobs in 2008, ranking it among the largest occupations in the US economy” (BLS, 2009 para. 19). According to the statistics, around 90 percent of the secretaries and management assistants are engaged in service-related sectors such as education, healthcare, government agencies and retail. The remaining 10 percent are employed by manufacturing and construction organizations. In the light of this, it is prudent to argue that numerous opportunities and possibilities exist for secretaries and management assistants in major US cities. Indeed, “secretaries and [management] assistants will have among the largest number of job openings due to growth and the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave this occupation” (BLS, 2009 para. 21). Overall, according to BLS, the employment of secretaries and management assistants is anticipated to grow by 11 percent between 2008 and 2018.

The above statistics reveal a positive outlook for the occupation in the US. However, information on which cities present the best chance for future management assistants still remains elusive. Most US cities are known to offer diverse socio-economic and political activities, with Washington DC assuming the seat of government. Increasing office computerization and organizational restructurings are bound to make Management Assistant one of the most sought after career paths in coming years (BLS, 2009). Emerging technological trends in the use of automated equipments such as computers, printers, and scanners will permit management assistants to accomplish a variety of tasks in less time. It is assured that developments in office automation will continue to grow in the future, further expanding the opportunities and possibilities that exist for secretaries and management assistants in major cities across the country.

The Study Context

The United States of America is a federal constitutional and democratic republic made up of fifty states and a nominal federal district. Geographically, the country is generally located in central North America, and is bordered by Canada to the North and the Republic of Mexico to the south. With a population of an estimated 309 million people, the US is believed to have the largest economy globally. According to official statistics, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country stood at US$ 14.4 trillion in 2008 (CIA, 2010). The US is generally christened ‘the land of opportunity’ by virtue of the country’s capacity to offer numerous career opportunities and possibilities for career advancement to millions of people internationally.

This particular study was undertaken by means of online protocols in three major US cities – New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Educational institutions offering Secretarial and Management Assistant courses were targeted for purposes of data collection. In addition, several organizations were selected in each city for purposes of evaluating the opportunities, potential market and current trends of secretaries and management assistants in each city. The New York City is the largest and the most populous city in the US followed by Los Angeles (Kim & Short, 2008). Currently, Philadelphia is the sixth most populous city in the US. New York City is known to wield a commanding influence over global business, finance, trade, fashion and entertainment. The United Nations headquarters are situated in New York, making it one of the most fertile grounds for secretaries and management assistants at an international level. Other major corporations headquartered in New York include Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Co, and Morgan Stanley (JobBank USA, n.d.).

The study concentrated on the above mentioned cities due to the fact that many organizations within the selected cities offer secretarial and management assistant’s roles, which typically include bookkeeping, purchasing, office budget management, research duties, clerical staff management, website content maintenance, conference logistics, client negotiations and management, database management, equipment rental and maintenance, spreadsheets, word-processing, presentation and report writing (Stroman et al, 2007). In New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, business opportunities and strategies for most US corporations are drastically evolving based on the changing business environment. This therefore means that the opportunities and potential market for secretaries and management assistants are also drastically changing as cut-throat competition, new business perspectives, domestic economic pressures, and an educated labor force continues to evolve (Ong, 2008).

Problem Discussion

It is indeed true that “teachers, counselors and school administrators play a huge role in helping students and their families select the right college and career path” (Meury, 2009 p. 48). In equal measure, it is within the realms of our own knowledge and understanding that college education, of virtually any kind, can be a critical asset worth the effort as long as the investment made befits the student. Evidently, college education is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposal as students must be assisted to make decisions that will be in tandem with existing career opportunities and possibilities across every sector of the economy. While important milestones have been achieved by relevant authorities about the potential market for a diversity of professional courses offered in post-secondary institutions, statistics on the actual locales where such opportunities and future trends for many career paths still remains limited.

Major cities across the world offer the backbone through which many career paths are articulated and eventually achieved. However, some cities are able to offer more career opportunities than others based on social-economic activities prevalent in these cities, technological advancements, level of infrastructural development, urbanization and globalization (Beall & Fox, 2009). According to the authors, “by 2030 more than 60 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, with most of the world’s population growth over the next 25 years being absorbed by cities and towns in low and middle income countries” (p. 2). These statistics reveal the overriding importance of cities in fostering economic development globally. Yet career opportunities and possibilities must exist in these cities as a precondition for attracting such a huge population. This therefore translates to the fact that career opportunities found in a city setting are directly related to its economic development.

The role and functions of modern-day secretary and management assistant has tremendously grown in major cities across the world. These occupations are found in virtually every organization or institution globally. However, there exist a complex connection between the city on the one hand and the economy and existing career opportunities on the other hand both in historical and global contexts (Kim & Short, 2008). It is against this backdrop that the potential market and career opportunities for secretaries and management assistants in major US cities needs to be critically evaluated for purposes of revealing the current trends and future projections of the occupation. But while fundamental information and statistics about career opportunities and possibilities for secretaries and management assistants in the US is currently available, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, little information on career opportunities and potential market for management assistants based on major cities across the country is currently available. It is this gap that the study sought to fill.

Study Objectives

The general objective of this study was to critically evaluate what the US has to offer for future management assistant in terms of existing career opportunities and possibilities. The study aimed to achieve this purpose by undertaking a cross-sectional analysis on selected academic institutions and organizations in three major cities – New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The following were the specific objectives:

  1. To critically evaluate the role played by such factors as economy, technology, organizational restructurings and infrastructural development in widening the net for management assistant to access career opportunities.
  2. To critically evaluate the current trends and future projections for management assistant with a view of developing a knowledge-base of the existing career opportunities and advancement possibilities for the profession.
  3. To develop a better understanding on which cities offers the best opportunities for management assistant and the reasons why existing career opportunities and potential market seems lopsided across different cities in the US.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

This study was concerned with critically evaluating career opportunities and possibilities existing in the US for the management assistant by undertaking an analysis on the current potential market for the profession and future trends in three major cities in the country. As such, it was directed by the following research questions and subsequent hypotheses.

  • Research Question 1: Does economic, technological, and infrastructural developments of cities have a role to play in ensuring continuity of the profession?
  • H1: management assistants who are physically distant from economically and technologically advanced cities, with efficient infrastructural developments, are more likely to remain unemployed for longer periods.
  • Research Question 2: Does the current trends for career advancement reveals a bright future for management assistant in the US?
  • H2: management assistants who strive to gain more experience and add more formal education after college stands a better chance for promotion in the future.
  • Research Question 3: why is the current market and future projection for the profession appear to grow in some sectors of the economy while it stagnates in others?
  • H3: The nature and scope of work done within each sector of the economy directly affects the opportunities and possibilities that exist in the US for management assistant.

Value of Study

The value of this particular study can never be underestimated. Career decisions are weighty issues for any student as they directly impact on the socio-economic development and financial freedom of the student later in life. As such, students and family members must be bound to work in tandem with school administrators and career counselors to ensure that they undertake a career path that will offer generous career opportunities and possibilities after completion of post-secondary education (Meury, 2009). However, correct information and statistics must be present to assist all stakeholders to make informed decisions on existing career opportunities and potential market for job seekers across every sector of the economy. In the light of this, the study came up with a body of knowledge that could be used by the above mentioned stakeholders in making informed decisions about existing opportunities and future trends in major cities across the US for the profession.

The study also filled the information gap that existed as to which and why some major cities in the US offered more career opportunities for the profession of management assistant. This information is critical for students aspiring to be future management assistants as it will help them understand the current trends and future projections for the occupation in some of the country’s most prolific cities. The information is also critical for college administrators offering professional courses in secretarial and management assistant as it will help them direct their students to fertile job-searching grounds upon completion of studies. Overall, the information will greatly reduce time wastage by students on job-searching missions since it will direct them to the cities that offer good opportunities and possibilities for the profession.

Study Delimitations

Apart from the challenges of time and financial constraints, this cross-sectional study was unable to engage some of the targeted educational institutions offering professional courses in management areas as they were unwilling to divulge critical information needed to answer the key study objectives. Some data and crucial links could not be achieved also as some institutions failed to keep proper documentation of how the professional course had grown for the past couple of decades and how their former students were fairing in the job market. The study was also limited in scope as it mainly concentrated on three main cities. According to the US Census Bureau (2009), there are more than 10,000 cities in the country.

Dissertation Outline

This particular study will be separated into five main sections, namely: introduction, review of related literature, methods section, study findings and discussions, and finally conclusions, recommendations, and future research areas. The introduction, presented above, concerns itself with the study background, the study context, problem discussion, study objectives, key research questions, and the value of study. Chapter two undertakes an in-depth analysis of related literature with a view of properly understanding the problem area. The methods section concern itself with the conceptual framework and variable description for the study, research design, data gathering approaches, data analysis, and issues of study reliability and validity. Chapter four attempts to offer key research findings and critical discussion based on key research questions and hypotheses. Chapter five offers some important highlights about the study and recommendations arising from key findings.

Review of Related Literature

Introduction

This particular study set out to critically evaluate what the US has to offer for future management assistant in terms of existing opportunities and possibilities for the profession. Towards the realization of this objective, this section attempts to evaluate the current trends and future projections for the profession. Also, this section will undertake a cross-sectional analysis of three major cities – New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia – in an attempt to create relevant information on the opportunities and potential market for the profession. Further, it will concentrate on giving the study an economic perspective by comparing how situational dynamics affect the economic, technological and infrastructural progression of the mentioned cities. According to Kim & Short (2009), the labor force found within each city is directly correlated with its capacity to expand socially, economically, and politically, not mentioning the fact that infrastructural as well as technological advancements in cities are major recipes for job creation.

Definitions and Roles of Management Assistant

It is of foremost importance to provide the definition of a management assistant so that the realms of functionality are well operationalized. First, it is worth noting that there exist no major differences in defining and describing the functions of a secretary, management assistant or an administrative assistant (Ong, 2008). An administrative or management assistant can be defined as “…an assistant to management who undertakes the day-to-day running of a department or unit” (Association of Administrative Assistants, n.d. para. 1). According to the umbrella body, the designation may also fit any individual with multifaceted technical skills or anyone who may be involved in the running of the business in a particular characteristic such as computer programming, project management, accounting, personnel administration, client relationship management, word processing and personnel training.

It is a well known fact that an executive secretary can assume the roles of management assistant but not the other way round. However, the role of management assistant combines a variety of functions that are divergent across all the sectors of the economy, and can therefore not be standardized (Rudman, 2005). Other factors that make the role and functions of management assistant to be divergent include the size of the organization, investments in technology, management style and organizational culture. According to the Association of Administrative Assistants (n.d.), a management assistant should be viewed as an asset to the manager or chief executive by virtue of functions assigned to the person by the organization. Some of the key functions of the position, according to the Association, include supporting the management in terms of policy-making; planning of official functions such as meetings and seminars; coordination of activities; assisting in the efficient flow of communications within the entity; augmenting the manager’s or chief executive’s flexibility by being responsible for routine duties, therefore increasing the amount of time the manager or chief executive has available to cater for other broader management responsibilities; and interpreting organization’s policies and procedures.

It is imperative that the functions of management assistant are exhaustively covered if the study is to achieve its objective of evaluating the career opportunities and possibilities that exist in the US for the occupation. In the light of this, other functions include supervising and hiring members of the team; development of organization’s performance standards; serving as a liaison person for the chief executive or the manager of the organization; answering work-related inquiries; scheduling and mapping work flow processes and workers’ utilization; serving on committees; and contacting external clients (Association of Administrative Assistants, n.d.).

Types of Management Assistants

This study would undoubtedly be incomplete if the types of management assistants are not closely evaluated as this information will be critical in determining the opportunities and potential market for management assistants in the selected cities. It is imperative to note that the diverse function tittles of management assistants can be classified under three groups – top management assistants, departmental management assistants, and general management assistants (Carter et al, 2009). While the last group is generally reserved for starters, the first two groups are occupied by personnel with considerable independence and definite proficiency respectively.

The categories grouped under the top management assistant include but not limited to personal assistant; office manager; management assistant; executive assistant; and customer relations manager. The second cradle – department assistant – may include job categories for legal secretary; logistics assistant; human resource assistant; internal sales assistant; marketing assistant; after-sales assistant; public relations assistant; payroll assistant; and purchasing assistant. Finally, the possible categories of an all-round or general assistant may include project assistant; junior assistant; administrative assistant; and operations assistant (Carter et al, 2009). It is therefore safe to argue that there exist numerous opportunities and possibilities for the position of management assistant in American cities when all the other factors are held constant. Nevertheless, job openings and potential markets for employment depend on a multiplicity of factors that will be discussed elsewhere in this section.

Current Employment Trends and Future Projections

It is a well known fact that secretaries and management assistants are employed in organizations and institutions of every type across all sectors. According to available statistics, 4.3 million jobs were held by members of this profession in 2008, making it one of the largest professions in the US (BLS, 2009). It is projected that employment for members of this profession will continue to grow at a rate that is equivalent to the average growth rate of the economy in coming years. This category of workers will be privileged to have a huge chunk of the number of job opportunities due to sustained growth and the inevitable need to replace members of staff who transfer to other professions or prefer to leave the occupation altogether. As such, the potential job market for future management assistants in the US could not be any better as the occupation is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2008 and 2018 (BLS, 2009).

The projected employment for secretaries and management assistants in the US is expected, as usual, to vary by occupational sphere. Both healthcare and social assistance sectors, which have already achieved above average growth in employment opportunities, are expected to occasion a faster than average growth for the much needed medical secretaries (BLS, 2009). In equal measure, the modest growth in para-legal services across major cities in the US is undoubtedly expected to lead to above average in employment opportunities reserved for legal secretaries. According to the BLS report, employment opportunities for executive secretaries and management assistants is estimated to increase as fast as the average for almost all the other professions across the sector since they are needed in many organizations across the board. Again, these statistics clearly reveal that the future of management assistant in the US is indeed bright as there are numerous career opportunities and possibilities in the growing sectors of the economy.

Further a field, growth is expected to continue in other key industries of the economy such as construction, educational sector, manufacturing, healthcare, and financial, further creating thousands of job opportunities and possibilities for management assistant (BLS, 2009). The BLS statistics, however, reveals that most new job opportunities for management assistants will continue to be generated by sectors offering critical services such as professional, scientific, legal and technical. Currently, “around 90 percent [of secretaries and management assistants] are employed in service-providing industries, ranging from education and healthcare to government and retail trade. Most of the rest work for firms engaged in manufacturing or construction” (BLS, 2009 para. 20). It is worth noting that a slower than average increase is projected for secretaries with the exception of legal secretaries, medical secretaries, and administrative secretaries. The table next page reveals the projections for the growth of the occupation in the US.

Table 1: Current and Projected data for Growth of the Occupation in the US

Occupational Title SOC Code Employment 2008 Projected Employment 2018 Change 2008 -18
Number Percent
Secretaries & Administrative Ass. 43-6000 4,348,100 4,819,700 471,600 11
Executive Secretaries & Administrative Ass. 43-6011 1,594,400 1,798,800 204,400 13
Legal Secretaries 43-6012 262,600 311,000 48,400 18
Medical Secretaries 43-6013 471,100 596,600 125,500 27
Secretaries, except legal, medical, executive 43-6014 2,020,000 2,113,300 93,300 5
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009

Career Paths for Management Assistant

Every career has got its own linear path of development, from entry level to top managerial position (Wilson, 2009). In many of the existing career opportunities, chances of getting a promotion within the usual time-frame are often slim and widely spaced. But this is not so for a management assistant as the entry-point position in many sectors is always seen in the light of grooming the individual for high-level duties that include a considerable amount of independence and increased responsibilities (Association of Administrative Assistants, n.d). Again, this is dependent on a multiplicity of factors such as socio-economic activities, level of office automation, organizational restructurings, and globalization (BLS, 2009). The figure next page reveals the career ladder and opportunities that management assistants most commonly undergo in the public sector

Career Ladder for Management Assistant in Public Sector
Figure 1: Career Ladder for Management Assistant in Public Sector

From the figure above, it is evidently clear that there exist many job openings for future management assistant and management aide if every organization – profit or non-profit making – can implement such a structure. The opportunities for upward mobility are clearly there for this position judging by the above excerpt from the City of Los Angels Personnel Department. However, an individual aspiring to climb up the career ladder and take advantage of the many opportunities that exist in US cities must be prepared to do the following:

  • Expand your work experience and scope by taking advantage of such opportunities as on-the-job rotation and transfer openings. This may include taking advantage of available on-the-job formal training openings relating to the nature and scope of your work
  • Enhancement of both educational and professional qualifications that relates to your work
  • Stay informed about the laws, regulations, policies and procedures relating to the career ladder you want to pursue.
  • Subscribing to professional bodies relating to your work.
  • Certification and advancement using internationally recognized bodies such as Certified Professional Secretary (CPS), Certified Administrative Professional (CAP), and Professional Legal Secretary (PLS).
  • Cautiously evaluate examination bulletins and course particulars for promotional classes to make informed decisions on the skills and abilities that you need to develop in readiness for your promotion (Source: CLAPD, 2005; BLS, 2009).

Reliable statistics points to the fact that “this occupation [management assistant] ranks among those with the largest number of job openings” (BLS, 2009 para. 1). With explicit types of expertise and professional qualifications, promotional or lateral progression between different hierarchies within the occupation is achieved using the least possible amount of time (CLAPD, 2005). Other attributes needed to earn the management assistant a super-highway to promotion include excellent writing, interpersonal, and communication skills. Indeed, as the dependence on technology persist to expand in offices and institutions across the US, the role of management assistant will continue to evolve and expand both in nature and scope. Career opportunities will greatly favor applicants with wide knowledge and understanding of computer software applications or with proven skills as a secretary or administrative assistant. Overall, candidates with a bachelor’s degree preferably in a business related field will, in the near future, be in great demand to undertake roles as management assistants (BLS, 2009). As such, it can only be argued that the future of management assistant in the US looks bright and promising.

An Economic Theory of Cities: Spatial Agglomeration

This study adopted the Spatial Agglomeration model to explain how cities become centers for career opportunities. According to the model, terms such as production and commercial centers, towns, cities and metropolitan areas are used to illustrate concentrations of human settlements alongside the ensuing economic activities. Consequently, individuals interrelate with each other in diverse ways, resulting in an exchange of tangible and intangible products, services, and concepts. The model further postulates that “people and their actions are concentrated because concentrations would bring about utility” (Zhang, 2002 p. 12). If the theory is adopted to fit the research objectives, it means that management assistants must attempt to search for concentrations of human settlements that would bring about utility to their career aspirations.

According to the model, an agglomerative aspect is important as it results in efficient and faster production of goods and services. In labor market economies, agglomeration “reduces search costs and more effectively utilizes human capital” (Zhang, 2002 p. 12). If the theory is adopted to fit the study situation, it means that moving into major cities in search of career opportunities has its own advantages as organizations located in these cities are keen to utilize the human capital in the proximity. However, the theory has its own diseconomies that may discourage potential job seekers, including high accommodation rates, high costs of living, and poor transport facilities to work places.

Factors Affecting Cities as Centers for Career Opportunities

Economic Factor

This is by far the most important factor that corporations and organizations consider when making investment decisions. Cities that are economically viable extend immeasurable growth opportunities to established corporations as well as startups. These organizations must then make investment in human capital, thereby creating a void that needs to be filled by potential employees (Kim & Short, 2008). According to the authors, there is a direct correlation between the economic viability of a city and the career opportunities it is able to create. If well nurtured, cities can become engines for economic growth, creating more career opportunities in the process. Not only does the economic wellbeing of a city attract more career opportunities, but it also implies a much greater division of labor (Duranton, 2000).

Technology

The 21st century has witnessed a major shift in technological advancements that has made cities to become, not only centers for career opportunities, but also convergence points for the most innovative office automations (Kim & Short, 2008). Indeed, the function of an office professional such as a management assistant has significantly evolved as the dependence on technology persists in offices (BLS, 2009). Secretaries and management assistants are now able to utilize spreadsheets, word processors, email, computers, scanners, and faxes, expanding their roles and functions in the organization into duties that were traditionally handled by managers. This inarguably means that technology has brought more job openings, especially to this type of occupation

Organizational Restructurings

Organizations are continually restructuring in order to maintain a competitive advantage at the market place. Restructuring occasions a complete change in an organization’s structure so that its processes and procedures can run much more efficiently. First, organizational restructuring may trigger firms to relocate to a more productive and economically viable city, thereby taking with it the career opportunities that may arise due to such restructuring. Second, careers such as management assistant have benefited profoundly as firms restructure their processes and work procedures to cut on costs (BLS, 2009). As such, qualified management assistants and others in similar fields have benefited from organizational restructurings by virtue of the fact that they are now allocated work that was traditionally reserved for other senior personnel. The principle behind this line of thinking is that organizations do not need to hire extra staff for functions that can be sufficiently fulfilled by a secretary or administrative assistant.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the backbone of economic development, and any city that does not invest heavily in infrastructural development is bound to fail. According to Duranton (2000), infrastructure affects every single aspect of urban structure and growth. A balanced urban network of infrastructure, mainly in roads, telephone and power availability, water, sewer systems, among others, forms a major attraction point to national and international investors (Kim & Short, 2008). Career opportunities are bound to skyrocket when more investors and organizations are drawn into a city due to its efficient infrastructural development. Adequate and efficient infrastructure is also known to sustain the growth of cities as cities with less infrastructural development such as those found in least developed nations “…are characterized by low urbanization rates, higher rates of urban primacy, and sluggish growth” (Duranton, 2000 p. 290). These particular cities have very few career opportunities, occasioning inhabitants to live in abject poverty.

Brief Overview of Selected US Cities

New York City

The New York City is undoubtedly the most populous in the US. Located on the Atlantic coastline of the Northeastern United States, the city is a notable center for international affairs by virtue of hosting the UN headquarters. Economically, New York City is a worldwide center for international business and commerce. Indeed, the city is ranked in the same league with London and Tokyo as a command hub for the world economy. According to NYCEDC (2010), the city is a leading center for finance, media, insurance business, legal services, arts, culture, and real estate in the US. In 2005, the New York metropolitan area had an estimated Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) of over $1.13 trillion, qualifying it as the biggest regional economy in the US (Zumbrun, 2006). Statistics released by Cinco Dias revealed that the city controlled an estimated 40 percent of global finances by 2008, making it the principal financial hub in the world. It is imperative to note that New York City also plays host to numerous headquarters of world renowned corporations, including an estimated 43 Fortune 500 corporations. Although the above factors favor generation of job opportunities, it should not escape mention that the city is known to have one of the highest costs of living in the world.

Los Angeles

Having an estimated population of 3.8 million, Los Angeles is the biggest city in California and the second biggest in the US after New York City. In 2008, the city was ranked the eighth most economically dominant city at a global level by Forbes.com (Christie, 2009). By comparison, Los Angeles, also commonly known as L.A., is more economically viable than both Shanghai and Toronto but nevertheless behind both New York and London. As such, L.A. is ranked as one the most extensive and viable economic engines within the US. Indeed, the city hosts many prominent institutions covering a wide variety of professional and socio-cultural fields. According to Kim & Short (2008), the city is one of the leading global centers for business, educational services, international trade and investments, and entertainment. It is also ranked highly as an international center for media, culture, design, fashion industry, science, and technology. The city is unrivalled as the entertainment hub of the world by virtue of playing host to Hollywood. The economy of L.A. is largely propelled by international trade and investments, massive entertainment industry, fashion industry, aerospace engineering, huge petroleum industry, apparel, technology, manufacturing, and tourism (Kim & Short, 2008). The city host headquarters of six Fortune 500 Corporations.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia, once the capital city of the US before the construction and elevation of Washington DC, is the biggest city in Pennsylvania. With an estimated population of 1.54 million in 2008, Philadelphia, also known as the city of brotherly love, is the sixth-most-populous metropolis in the US. The city is largely known as a center for commerce, culture, tourism and education (National Geographic, 2010). Economically, Philadelphia has great interests in manufacturing, finance, food processing, insurance, petroleum refining, health, tourism services, and biotechnology. According to a study conducted by leading management consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, the city and its surroundings bagged the fourth uppermost GDP among US cities, amounting to over $312 billion in 2005 (CityMayors Statistics, n.d.). In addition, the city hosts some Fortune 500 companies such as cable television, Com cast, Colonial Penn, Boeing Rotorcraft systems, Crown Holdings Incorporated, Lincoln Financial Group, and GlaxoSmithKline. The named corporations are large employers, with some having hundreds of thousands of employees spread across the world.

Methodology

Introduction

The main purpose of this particular study was to evaluate what the US has to offer for future management assistant especially in terms of existing job opportunities and possibilities. To meet the stated objective, wide-ranging methodologies aimed at undertaking a cross-sectional study in three major cities across the country were developed to assist in the collection of the requisite data. The research design adapted for the study also enabled the researcher to collect data that could sufficiently answer the key research questions and hypotheses while ensuring adequate reliability and validity of the data collection tools. In addition to explaining the theoretical framework and research design used in the study, this section will also comprehensively describe the study population, sample size and the data collection techniques employed.

Research Design

This cross-sectional study utilized a quantitative research design to critically evaluate what the US has to offer for future management assistant in terms of existing job opportunities and potential market. The study attempted to correlate three major cities – New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia – with a view of identifying which city offered more opportunities for management assistants and why. According to Hopkins (2000), most quantitative research designs are interested in determining the correlation or comparison between an independent variable and a dependent variable. As such, most of these studies are either descriptive or experimental. It is imperative to note that this particular study employed a descriptive quantitative approach since the subjects were measured once. The descriptive quantitative design proved useful in measuring the association between the city’s economic, technological, infrastructural, and organizational indicators on the one hand and its ability to offer job opportunities on the other. Sekeran (2006) suggest that correlational studies are best employed in cross-sectional analysis where the researcher aims to outline the key variables that are supposedly related to a particular area or phenomenon of interest.

A Survey technique was used in this particular study for purposes of gathering the required data from the field. According to Sekeran (2006), survey technique is particularly efficient when the researcher is essentially interested in descriptive, explanatory or exploratory assessment. A survey collects core data needed to evaluate association between various variables or phenomena by way of self-report since the subjects have the ability to respond to questions posed either directly or through online protocols such as email. This particular study employed an online survey. It cannot escape mention that a descriptive survey technique served the interests of this study better than any other approach since it offered the study subjects an opportunity to precisely describe the characteristics, values, attitudes, belief system, and knowledge of or in relation to a particular phenomenon under study (Sekaran, 2006).

A comprehensive review of related literature was undertaken on employment trends and projected employment trends for management assistant, and also on the three cities selected for the study to ensure the research assumed a cross-sectional approach. The literature review was later utilized to carry out a hypothesis-testing study aimed at evaluating the factors that attracted opportunities for employment in the selected cities. A hypothesis-testing approach is an asset in such a study since “it goes beyond mere description of variables in a situation to an understanding of the relationships among factors of interest” (Sekeran, 2006 p. 119).

Theoretical Framework

A theoretical framework “is a conceptual model of how one theorizes and makes logical sense of the relationships among the several factors that have been identified as important to the problem” (Sekeran, 2006 p. 87). The basic function of a theoretical framework is to map out or outline and discuss the diverse interrelationships that exist between phenomena or variables viewed to form a crucial component to the situational dynamics under study. This study aimed at evaluating what the US has to offer for future management assistant in terms of opportunities for employment and potential market for employment.

Based on the Key objectives of the study, the position of management assistant, availability of job opportunities, and career advancement acted as the dependent variables, while technology, organizational restructurings, infrastructure, economic factors, political factors, globalization trends, and government policies become the independent variables. According to Sekeran (2006), a dependent variable is directly affected by the independent variable, and changes depending on the effect of the independent variable. Based on the above account of variables, a theoretical schema that represents how the future of management assistant and the job opportunities present or projected are affected by the multiplicity of factors was developed to guide the research process. The figure next page displays the schema.

Theoretical Framework Used for the Study
Figure 2: Theoretical Framework Used for the Study

Target Population and Sample

The target population for this particular study, drawn from New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, comprised of both organizations that had employed management assistants and professional colleges offering management assistant and other secretarial related courses. The researcher utilized online Google Search Service to identify the population. Johnson & Christensen (2007) argues that a target population comprise of all the components – people, articles, situations, phenomena, value systems, and events – that meet the essential sample criteria for inclusion in a research-based study. The researcher identified 30 professional colleges and 20 organizations that met the basic sampling criteria in each of the 3 cities.

Convenience sampling technique was employed to select a sample of 15 organizations and 15 professional colleges from each of the 3 cities, translating to the fact that the total sample size for the study was 45 organizations and 45 professional colleges. According to Sekaran (2006), a convenient sample consists of respondents in the research framework by the virtue of being in the right locale or situation at the right time. In this perspective, the researcher gave first priority to organizations and professional colleges that responded within the first few days indicating their willingness to take part in the online survey. Late responses were offered an explanation that the sample size for the study had already being attained. Management assistants were expected to complete the online survey schedule for the selected organizations, while Heads of Departments (HODs) or Tutors teaching secretarial or management assistant courses were expected to fill the schedule for the colleges.

The Sampling Criteria

All the respondents included for this particular study were selected to meet some basic minimum standards. The HODs or Tutors, representing professional colleges, had to meet the standards or criteria stated below to be included in the sample:

  • Must be 30 years or older
  • Must have resided in the US for a period not less than 10 years
  • Must have taught Secretarial, Management Assistant, or any other related disciplines at a college level for a period not less than 5 years
  • Must display meticulous understanding and knowledge of the discipline of Management Assistant, including job opportunities in the market and trends, both current and projected
  • Must be ready and willing to take part in the online survey
  • Be of either sex or race and nationality

The management assistants, representing the selected organizations, had to satisfy the following criteria to be included in the sample:

  • Must be 26 years or older
  • Must have worked in formal employment for a period of not less than 3 years
  • Must have stayed in the US for a period of not less than 3 years
  • Must exhibit thorough knowledge and understanding of the field of management assistant or related disciplines
  • Be of either sex or race and nationality
  • Must be ready and willing to participate in the online survey

Data Gathering Tools

The online survey made use of questionnaire schedule as the primary data gathering instrument for purposes of collecting data on the two sets of subjects – organizations and professional colleges. The study utilized a descriptive quantitative approach and, as such, the questionnaire schedule was best suited to collect field data due to its easy application and adaptability online (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). According to Sekaran (2006), a questionnaire can be equated to a self-report form purposely designed to extract fundamental information or data from the subjects. Traditionally, questionnaires used to be printed but they can now be sent in soft copies online. Consequently, the information obtained from way of self-report is more or less similar in nearly all aspects to that gained through the administration of a key informant interview.

The questionnaire has its own unique advantages over other techniques when it comes to data collection. In this particular study, it was easy to administer the questionnaire online and still get the responses from the subjects in record time. Apart from these advantages, Sekaran (2006) argues that a researcher may indeed choose to utilize a questionnaire in the research process due to the following advantages:

  • Most questionnaires comprise of closed-ended items, thereby becoming easier for the researcher to embark on a comparative analysis on each of the questions. The researcher must, however, employ the use of unstructured questions to explore new horizons and enquire about phenomena that is previously unknown to him or her.
  • Questionnaires are able to attain a high response rate as they can be handed out to the study subjects for completion at own free time then emailed or collected to the researcher
  • Questionnaires guarantee anonymity as the physical identity of the subjects is of no significance on the completed forms
  • Questionnaires are often presented in a consistent manner and therefore present an insignificant occasion for prejudice.

This particular study utilized two sets of questionnaires – one for the management assistant and the other for HODs or Tutors of the selected organizations and professional colleges respectively. The questionnaires, all in well understood English, comprised of 3 broad sections for each of the two sets of subjects. Part A was meant to capture the demographic characteristics of the subjects as this information is fundamentally important when it comes to interpreting the results (Johnson & Christensen, 2007). Part B was meant to gather critical data used to answer the study’s objectives and research questions. Here, the subjects’ perceptions, views, knowledge, and issues relating to the field were assessed with a view of attempting to gather data relating to the topic of study, that is, the existing career opportunities and potential market for management assistant in the US. Section C concerned itself with gathering some personal perceptions on the topic as well as concluding the interview process.

As it is usually the practice, secondary data for the study was gathered by undertaking a detailed review of related literature. The review was of essence to the whole research process as this was a cross-sectional study expected to evaluate multifaceted views and perspectives on the topic of interest by comparing three US cities – New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. In the view of many researchers, a comprehensive review of documents and reliable literature is always welcome as it “…represents a reflection of reality” (May, 2001 p. 182).

Reliability and Validity

Reliability

Reliability can be simply described as the consistency of measurement. In research, reliability can be described as the degree to which a data gathering instrument is able to measure the variables or phenomena consistently each time the instrument is used under similar conditions (Handley, 2005). By the use of internal consistency, the researcher was able to ensure outstanding levels of uniformity in responses given out by the two sets of subjects. Questions measuring the same concepts were grouped together to ensure reliability. In addition, detailed guidelines and instructions on how to complete the questionnaires had been dispatched to the subjects, thus abridging data collector’s error that, if unchecked, leads to unreliable results. Finally, reassurance notes on the privacy and confidentiality of the responses given by the subjects were emailed to each subject, enabling them to open up and offer complete, unabridged information. Such a practice ensures that data collected are always reliable.

Validity

Validity can be simply described as the strength of our own conclusions, deductions, or propositions. In short, it seeks to ask if certain inferences or conclusions made from a research study were right or the degree to which such inferences were right. This obviously depends on the degree to which a particular data collection instrument used in a study is able to evaluate or measure certain phenomena under study (Handley, 2005). To achieve this important characteristic, this study ensured that all the questions included in the two sets of questionnaires were carefully vetted through extensive research to ensure they were able to capture the required data unabridged. Basing the questionnaire items on the critical review of literature also ensured the study results were valid based on the fact that questions sent to the subjects were representative of the information and data needed to prove or disprove the research hypotheses. Consequently, the study was able to achieve both internal and external validity. Internal validity was achieved as the study findings brought into the fore several causal associations relating to the variables under study. On the other hand, external validity was achieved as the study findings could be generalized to other settings.

Ethical considerations

Consents were sought from the administrators and corporate communications managers of the respective professional colleges and organizations taking part in the study. After permission was granted, the researcher contacted the institutions again by way of email requesting to be provided with email addresses of management assistants’ email addresses in the case of organizations and HODs or concerned Tutors email addresses in the case of colleges. After the right subjects were selected, introductory conversations were held using both email and phone. It is during these conversations that clarifications about the aim and scope of the online survey were discussed and any arising issues ironed out. An online non-disclosure letter was signed between the parties and the researcher to ensure confidentiality of information. A guarantee was also issued that the collected data were to be used sorely for the intended purpose, and at no time will they be released to the public in a manner likely to jeopardize the subjects’ positions of employment. Further, the rights to informed consent and self preservation were fully explained to the subjects to prepare them fully for the undertaking.

Data Analysis

Both quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques were employed. Quantitative analysis entailed coding the data, entry, cleaning, analysis, and interpretation. A computer software program known as Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was utilized to run univariate analyses aimed at generating frequency distributions. The data resulting from the distributions were further harnessed, interpreted and presented using statistical procedures such as pie-charts, bar-graphs, and normal text. A Microsoft spreadsheet program known as Ms Excel was utilized to generate the charts and graphs.

Qualitative data generated by the open ended questions were analyzed using qualitative content procedure to triangulate data and quantify emerging characteristics, trends, and concepts. According to Sekeran (2006), the qualitative content analysis is a procedure employed to methodically clean, code, and analyze responses that were given in either verbal or written communication channels so as to allow variables to be measured quantitatively. The secondary data, comprising of the literature review, were decoded and the content, keywords, and recurring themes used to explain the study results.

Results

Introduction

This particular study had been commenced with a view of evaluating what the US has to offer for future management assistant in terms of existing career opportunities and potential markets in major cities across the country. Of particular, this study purposed to critically evaluate the employment trends, career advancement and future projections for the occupation of management assistant in three US cities – New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Out of 45 organizations and 45 professional colleges selected for the study, 12 organizations and 8 colleges failed to mail the completed questionnaires back to the researcher even after numerous reminders. It is therefore imperative to note that the study received a response rate of 73.3% for organizations and 82.2% for colleges. The statement of results followed by a comprehensive discussion of the results based on the study objectives and hypotheses will be presented in this section.

Statement of Results

The main highlights of the study results were both interesting and informative. In general, 48% of the HODs and Tutors, hereafter referred to as college subjects, were males while 52% were females. However, only 28% of management assistants were males while the rest were females. This clearly reveals that the discipline was a traditional women affair. But this trend was fast changing in colleges as enrolment rates for the course of management assistant in the selected colleges revealed that an average of 44.7% males and 55.3% females were currently pursuing the course. The distribution of enrolment rates according to sex and selected cities is shown below

Course Enrolment Distribution According to Sex and City
Figure 3: Course Enrolment Distribution According to Sex and City

Management Assistants

Starting with the management assistants working for the selected organizations, it was clearly evident that the future is indeed bright for aspiring management assistant as only 23% reported staying for one year without formal employment upon completion of their tertiary education. Indeed, the average recorded from completion of education to employment for the all the assistants interviewed was 4.35 months, and the distribution was nearly the same for the selected cities. However, promotion opportunities seemed to favor assistants working in the New York City as 66.2% of the personnel reported having been given a promotion at least once in their career life against 58.2% in Philadelphia and 52.4% in Los Angeles.

An interesting finding, however, was that 33.3% of management assistants felt that promotion of employees in the occupation was not been done in a fair and transparent manner. The bulk of them (68%) were working in Los Angeles, and gave suggestions that promotion opportunities especially in the public sector was not commensurate to educational achievements or level of expertise gained. Their concerns revealed that favoritism and allegiance may have penetrated public service in Los Angeles as far as promotions are concerned. But overall, two-thirds of all management assistants in all the cities felt that promotions in the occupation were being done fairly, with 22% of respondents in New York reporting being promoted after working for one year against 12% and 9% for Philadelphia and Los Angeles respectively.

When asked to choose their dream work station among the three cities selected for the study, 62% said they would like to take up a career opportunity in New York City. This therefore means that the city is the preferred work station for many management assistants. A huge proportion (44%) of the management assistants felt that New York City presented an immense opportunity for career advancement and growth, with another 20% arguing that the city presented a better chance for career switch. The career switch observation reveals that there may be some management assistants who are not satisfied with the occupation perhaps because of the said unfair promotion strategies. The rest of the distribution is represented by the pie chart next page. A fascinating finding, however, is that around 10% of management assistants would like to relocate to New York City since they fancy the corporations operating there. This again reveals the value that individuals place on performing organizations.

Reasons for Choosing New York City as the Preferred Work Station
Figure 4: Reasons for Choosing New York City as the Preferred Work Station

A majority of management assistants were satisfied with the current employment trends and indeed exuded confidence about positive future projections especially after the lapse of the 2008 economic recession. According to the assistants selected for the study, the US had indeed achieved all the ingredients needed to spur high-level international investments in the country, a major source of job opportunities. When cross-sectional analysis was undertaken, many assistants (52%) believed that New York City stood a better chance to attract more corporations in its fold, and thus more career opportunities. Los Angeles was chosen as the preferred destination city for national and international corporations by 28% of the assistants against 20% for Philadelphia. This translates to the fact that future management assistants must continually keep track of New York City as the destination with the largest number of career opportunities.

The reasons given for choosing New York City as the preferred destination for new corporations in terms of national and international investments were many and varied. However, the state of economy, the organization and attractions of the city, and globalization trends were ranked the topmost factors in that order by all the assistants across the three cities selected for the study. An established mass-transit system and many business opportunities were also named as possible causes why corporations, large and small, eyed New York City with keen interest than any other city in the US. Los Angeles was selected as a preferred destination mainly because of its established entertainment industry while Most of the 20% who chose Philadelphia as a preferred destination for new corporations argued that the city presented new horizons for growth opportunities. However, the most important fact is that over 75% of the assistants selected for this particular study were in agreement that a city’s capacity to attract more corporations was directly related to availability of career opportunities and advancement.

College Subjects (HOD and Tutors)

Around 52% of college subjects believed that more males were venturing into the discipline more than any other time before due to immense opportunities for employment while another 28% believed that males were venturing into the field for faster career advancement. Others argued that the course presented a gateway to prestigious positions especially in the private sector as some assistants eventually get to be personal assistants of renowned chief executives and managers. This notwithstanding, around 82% of the college subjects were in agreement that the professional course of management assistant was getting popular by the day. All the college subjects were in agreement that educational excellence, expertise and high level of specialization among the several facets of the discipline are key ingredients that are likely to earn one a promotion upon entry into the labor market.

Asked to select the importance of some listed factors that affect the capacity of cities to become centers for career opportunities, starting with the most important to the least important, 48.7% of the college subjects across the selected cities chose the state of economy while infrastructure was selected by 25% as the second topmost factor. 56% of respondents from Los Angeles city felt that economic factors were the most important determinants of whether cities had the capacity to become centers for job opportunities. The figure below shows the rest of the distribution by city.

Factors Affecting Cities as Centers of Career Opportunities
Figure 5: Factors Affecting Cities as Centers of Career Opportunities

65% of the college subjects across the three major cities said that New York City stood a better chance of attracting more career opportunities due to its strong economic status and expansive infrastructural development. A further 20% said that the city stood a better chance of attracting more career opportunities due to the nature of operations and activities of most corporations setting base in New York. Overall, cities that had more service-oriented corporations such as New York were thought to have more job openings than cities with manufacturing concerns such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Most of the college subjects (56.7%) were satisfied with the current employment trends for management assistant across the three cities, with 62% feeling satisfied in New York City while 56% and 52% felt the same way in Philadelphia and Los Angeles City respectively. According to the respondents, rapid growth of the service sector; major international investments; lapse of the 2008 economic recession; and rejuvenation of the private sector over the public sector were enough reasons to believe that indeed the future looked bright for the typical management assistant. It is imperative to note that all the above reasons put New York City at a distinct advantage since it was attracting many corporations engaged in offering services than the other two cities.

Analysis and Discussion

This study had been initiated to evaluate what the US has to offer for future management assistant especially in relation to existing career opportunities and potential markets for growth. The study had been commenced in three major cities in the US, namely New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, with a view of undertaking a cross-sectional analyses on the opportunities that exist in each city and the factors behind the existence of such opportunities. The city setup was befitting to the study since, according to the Spatial Agglomeration Model, cities are centers of human concentrations where individuals interrelate with each other in different ways, resulting in an exchange of tangible and intangible products, services and perceptions (Zhang, 2002).

From the study findings, it can be argued beyond any possible doubt that the future is indeed bright for practicing or aspiring management assistant in the US. The potential market for future management assistant is expanding, not only in nature and scope, but also in the roles and functions exercised by the assistants. This important finding can be supported by recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointing to the fact that the market for management assistants and other related professions is bound to grow by an estimated 11 percent between 2008 and 2018 (BLS, 2009). In line with this, the study also confirmed the BLS projections that the profession is bound to grow more in services-oriented sector than in other areas such as manufacturing or construction. This is welcome news for future management assistant as many international corporations engaged in offering services are relocating to major cities in the US, and the most preferred city, according to the study, is New York.

The study also revealed that cities offer a favorable environment for career opportunities and advancements due to a multiplicity of factors, key among them the prevailing economic climate; infrastructure; technology; organizational restructuring; organization and attraction of the city; globalization trends; and availability of business opportunities. The study revealed a direct relationship between the availability of the above named factors and an increase of employment opportunities within a city setup as it is the case in New York City. However, economic factors and infrastructure topped the List. According to Zumbrun (2006), New York City has the biggest regional economy in the US, registering an estimated GMP turnover of over $ 1.13 trillion in 2005. The city is a leading international center of, not only finance, media, insurance, and business, but also of legal services, arts, culture, and real estate. Such a concentration of human settlements, according to the Model of Spatial Agglomeration used in this study, gives utility to management assistants in their search for career opportunities and advancement (Zhang, 2002). According to Beall & Fox (2009), cities offer job openings based on the nature of economic, educational, political and social activities undertaken by organizations and individuals residing in the cities.

Three research questions and related hypotheses had been formulated for purposes of guiding this particular study. Below, a comprehensive analysis of the study results based on the hypotheses is presented.

Career Opportunities versus Economic, Technological, and Infrastructural

Development of Cities

A strong correlation was observed between the availability of career opportunities for management assistants and the level of economic, technological and infrastructural development of cities. According to Kim & Short (2008), it is clearly evident that economically viable cities extend immeasurable growth opportunities to established organizations as well as startups. These organizations, while investing in the cities, are required to make considerable investments in human capital, thereby creating opportunities for employment. According to Duranton (2000), not only does the economic wellbeing of a city attract more job opportunities, but it also implies a much greater division of labor, meaning that more job opportunities are created in the process. According to the study, the above factors has made New York City to be the preferred destination for numerous international corporations, creating thousands of job opportunities for the management assistant especially in the service sector.

According to the study results, a strong association was also found between the level and efficiency of Infrastructural development of a city and its capacity to attract career opportunities particularly for management assistant. Technology, despite its relative importance, was selected by few respondents as one of the factors that influenced a city’s capacity to attract career opportunities. A probable reason for this scenario is that almost all major cities in the US have well established technological systems, and therefore, it has become integrated into the day-to-day activities of people to such an extent that it is no longer looked upon as a value-added service.

However, technology has made the careers of management assistants to be more expansive and productive as they can now take on roles and functions that were previously reserved for senior personnel and managers (BLS, 2009). According to Kim & Short (2008), a balanced urban network of infrastructure, mainly in roads, telephone, power, water, sewer, among others, forms the principal attraction point to national and international investors. This means more career opportunities and possibilities. In the study, New York City topped the list in efficient infrastructural and technological development. Consequently, the first premise that management assistants who are physically distant from cities with advanced economic, infrastructural and technological amenities are more likely to be unemployed for longer periods was indeed proven right.

Education, Experience, and Future Opportunities for Promotion

According to the study results, it was clearly evident that educational advancements, expertise and high level of specialization in the discipline of management assistant boosted chances for promotion in the future. According to CLAPD (2005) management assistant should expand their experience and scope by taking advantage of such opportunities as on-the-job rotation and transfer openings. This may include taking advantage of available on-the-job formal training openings relating to the nature and scope of your work. Also the assistants must be keen to enhance both educational and professional qualifications relating to their work.

According to BLS (2009), excellent writing, interpersonal, and communication skills also put professionals in this occupation at a competitive advantage to earn a promotion. Professionals with a University degree preferably in a business related field will also stand a better chance to undertake roles as management assistants. An interesting observation, however, was that most management assistants in Los Angeles felt that opportunities for promotion were not fair as they failed to be commensurate with the level of education and expertise of the professionals. Consequently, the premise that management assistants who strive to gain more experience and add more formal education after college stands a better chance for promotion in the near future was also proven right.

Lopsided Current and Future Market for Management Assistant

The study findings clearly revealed that the current and future projections of management assistant were biased to favor certain cities and sectors of the economy. According to the findings, cities that are favored by current globalization trends such as New York stood to gain immensely, not only through attracting the world’s best corporations into their fold, but also through numerous career opportunities that emerge as the corporations relocate and restructure their activities to be in line with current competition trends. Some cities, according to the study, were found to have better and more superior attraction focal points than others, thus the bias in career opportunities. According to the model of Spatial Agglomeration, moving into such cities has a distinct advantage in that organizations located within are keen on utilizing the human capital in the proximity (Zhang, 2002).

Industry-wide, the study revealed that career opportunities in management assistant are presently concentrated in service-oriented organizations and institutions rather than in manufacturing and construction industries. Some cities like Philadelphia have great interests in manufacturing, petroleum refining and food processing, and therefore cannot benefit much from the distribution of career opportunities for management assistant. Other cities such as New York have great concerns in the service industry, with finance, media, insurance and legal services leading the pack (NYCEDC, 2010). The above observation explains the reasons behind the bias of career opportunities for management assistant according to city and sector. According to BLS (2009), career opportunities for this type occupation in both the legal and medical sectors are expected to grow by 18% and 27% respectively between 2008 and 2018. Accordingly, the premise that the nature and scope of work done within each sector of the economy directly affects the availability of career opportunities for management assistants was also proven correct.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Conclusions

This particular study proved beyond doubt that numerous job opportunities and possibilities for career advancement for the future management assistant existed in the US. Data from the field coupled with a comprehensive review of related literature exposes a job market that is growing by the day. Indeed, males are developing an interest in this occupation more than any other time before due to numerous career opportunities and the sophistication it has developed over the years. On average, an individual stays for a period of 4.35 months from completion of college to the labor market.

New York City is still the preferred dream work station for individuals and corporations, thereby creating numerous career opportunities for the average management assistant. Some of the reasons advanced for choosing New York City as the preferred Work Station include: opportunities for career advancement; opportunities for career switch; fancy corporations; better rates of payment; and superb amenities. In the city, majority of management assistants are promoted after working for a period of one year. However, promotions seems not to be conducted in a fair and transparent manner in Los Angeles, eliciting feelings of betrayal and confusion among some management assistants engaged in the profession at the city.

A Majority of management assistants are satisfied with the current employment trend due to the fact that the US is attracting high-level international investments into the cities, thus creating numerous career opportunities. More corporations especially in the service sector are relocating or setting branches in major US cities such as New York, expanding available career opportunities for management assistant. New York City is ranked the topmost investment destination for international investment due to a number of factors, including the state of economy, organization and attraction of the city, globalization trends, established mass transit system, technology, organizational restructurings, and numerous opportunities for business growth. It is of importance to note that a city’s capacity to attract more corporations is directly related to availability of career opportunities and advancement. According to the study, New York City has a distinct advantage over other cities due to the nature of operations and activities of most corporations operating there as they are service-oriented.

Educational excellence, expertise, and high level of specialization have been ranked highly as key ingredients in securing a promotion in this occupation. According to the study, rapid growth of the service sector; major international investments; lapse of the 2008 recession; and rejuvenation of the private sector over the public sector are enough reasons to believe that indeed the future looks bright for the typical management assistant in the US. Overall, it has been proven that the professional course of Management Assistant is getting popular by the day.

Recommendations

The study is an eye-opener regarding the career aspirations of the management assistant in major cities across the US. Indeed, it has been proved that there are numerous opportunities and possibilities for members of this profession, and projections are that these opportunities will continue to grow in the future. However, several recommendations need to be made. First, proper regulations and frameworks need to be instituted by all stake holders to ensure that promotion is done purely on merit. Concerns have been raised in the study about promotions not being conducted in a fair and transparent manner. However, this should not be so as it only encourages qualified members to dump the profession in frustration. Favoritism and allegiance should not be allowed entry into modern-day labor market Second, students need to be encouraged to join professional bodies related to the discipline while still at school or immediately upon completion of college. This ups their stakes as it keeps them informed about recent developments in the field. It also enhances their chances of finding a fulfilling career in the field. Finally, all interrelated disciplines within this occupation should now have fully-fledged statuses to keep in line with the current trends in the labor market. It is not enough to equate a personal assistant to a management assistant, or a secretary to an administrative assistant. The occupation has greatly evolved in recent times and personnel within the profession are increasingly handling chores that were traditionally reserved for senior personnel. As such, it is felt that recognizing the members by their titles according to area of specialty rather than grouping them collectively as secretaries is perfectly in order.

Future Research Areas

Future research is needed in two broad areas to ensure that career opportunities and possibilities for advancement for management assistant continue to expand by the day. First, research needs to be carried out in the manufacturing and construction sector with a view of identifying hindrances for growth for the occupation in the two major sectors of the economy. It is important that stop-gap measures are put in place to ensure that such a trend is reversed. In 2008, only 10 percent of secretaries and management assistants worked in the two sectors.

Second, cross-sectional research needs to be carried out in institutions offering the course to identify areas that needs to be addressed so that the discipline is kept completely relevant to the needs, requirements and career aspirations of the 21st century management assistant. The world is changing fast, and corporations must continually restructure their operations and processes to keep up with the pace of competition. In the same way, learning institutions must constantly appraise their teaching tools and learning materials to churn out management assistants who have the capacity to be absorbed in modern-day labor market. Failure to do so will be disastrous to both the learning institutions and aspiring management assistants.

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Appendix 1: Questionnaire for Management Assistant

Study: What the US has to offer for future Management Assistant

I am an undergraduate student undertaking a Bachelors degree in Management Assistant at [name of University]. I would like to kindly request you to take some few minutes and complete this questionnaire, which is critical towards completion of my research dissertation. I would like to assure you that all information provided herein will be treated in confidence, and will only be used for purposes of this study. Please use the address provided below to mail back the completed questionnaire schedule. Thank you.

Part A: General Information

General Information

Part B: Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Part C: Opinions on the Field of Management Assistant

Opinions on the Field of Management Assistant

Appendix 2: Questionnaire for Tutor/HOD

Study: What the US has to offer for future Management Assistant

I am an undergraduate student undertaking a Bachelors degree in Management Assistant at [name of University]. I would like to kindly request you to take some few minutes and complete this questionnaire, which is critical towards completion of my research dissertation. I would like to assure you that all information provided herein will be treated in confidence, and will only be used for purposes of this study. Please use the address provided below to mail back the completed questionnaire schedule. Thank you.

Part A: General Information

 General Information

Part B: Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Knowledge on the Field of Management Assistant

Part C: Opinions on the Field of Management Assistant

Opinions on the Field of Management Assistant

Thank you for taking your time to respond to the questions

[Provide Mailing Address Here]

Appendix 3: Non-Disclosure Agreement

Dated: [insert own date]

This non-disclosure agreement, hereby called the “Agreement,” is entered into between the researcher as the “Receiving Party” and the subjects engaged in the research process as the “Disclosing Party” for the sole purpose of preventing the unlawful and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information that may either, intentionally or unintentionally, prejudice or cause harm to the “Disclosing Party.” The parties hereby agree to enter into a mutual and confidential agreement with respect to the disclosure of confidential information. The “Receiving Party” hereby offers guarantee that the information provided by the “Disclosing Party” shall be sorely used for research purposes.

Appendix 4: Name of Organizations that took part in the Survey

Name of Organizations that took part in the Survey