Today, April 22, 2015, marks the 63rd annual celebration of Administrative Professionals Day. Out of all the professional holidays observed, the meaning of “Admin Day” is one that continues to evolve.
The holiday was started by the National Secretaries Association and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 1952, and was originally called National Secretary’s Day. In a post World War II America, the event was meant to both recognize the efforts of administrative staff in keeping the economy stable as well as attract people to and protect administrative positions. Big business was on the rise and the mammoth sized machines needed skilled, unflappable people to act as a sturdy backbone for the industry.
But by the 1990s the understanding of the role Secretaries play in the workplace changed. The community of administrative professionals spanned across the globe and the hard work they put in for the professional world was given its due credit. So the names were changed to reflected that. The National Secretaries Association was changed to International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and the holiday was given its current name of Administrative Professionals Day.
Names are all important, for the subtext of their meaning silently informs our understanding of the thing the name represents. Even the switch from ‘secretary’ to ‘administrator’ reflects the cultural shift in understanding. Secretary, derived from the Latin word secernere, means ‘to set apart something secret’, whereas administrator comes from the Latin word administro which means ‘to manage’. The former meaning of keeping someone’s secrets is quite passive and minimalizes the duties of the position, whereas management requires empowerment and skill. The latter is clearly a more accurate depiction of the multitude of projects and tasks administrators must undertake.
And still, the meaning behind Administrative Professionals Day continues to change. Some people question whether the holiday unintentionally patronizes and separates Admins from the rest of the work force, excusing the need for the respect of Admins the other 364 days a year.
While the traditional gift of flowers might be outdated, we hope that the day doesn’t serve as a surrogate for day-to-day respect and earnest appreciation. Skilled administrators everywhere are the one thing standing between chaos and order in the workplace, the thin line between success and failure.
We at SF AppWorks would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Administrative Professionals out there for their difficult, important and highly valued work efforts every day.
And on that note, we would like to formally announce that we are looking for an administrative assistant of our own to come work for us. If you are near the Palo Alto area, like a small but lively work environment, and love to talk tech, please email us your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Admin Professional’s Day!