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Women’s News: 9 Amazingly Successful Women Who Started Out As Assistants

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The Huffington Post  |  By 

Everyone has to start somewhere — and sometimes, that “somewhere” is as an assistant.

Approximately 96 percent of secretaries and administrative assistants in the US are female, making it the top job for women — just as it has been since 1950. Not every assistant job is as stressful as the one in “The Devil Wears Prada,” but they’re not always the most intellectually stimulating positions. However, an assistant job is a foot in the door, and one that many women have used as launching points for incredible careers.

Here are nine amazing women who started out as assistants and achieved major success as a result:

1. Jenna Lyons

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Lyons, now the executive creative director at J Crew, started in the company’s menswear section at 21 as an “assistant to an assistant to someone else’s assistant.”

Lyons told Marie Claire in May 2013: “There’s this idea that everybody has to have everything right away. But you have to let the slow burn happen. I wasn’t the superstar. I had to work for it. Really long hours.”

2. Christiane Amanpour

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The journalist has worked for CNN since 1983 — she started out as an assistant at CNN’s foreign desk in Atlanta.

“I arrived at CNN with a suitcase, with my bicycle, and with about 100 dollars,” she said during a 2000 keynote speech at the Murrow Awards Ceremony.

3. Cindi Leive

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Leive’s magazine career started in the early 1990s, when she worked as an editorial assistant for Glamour. Leive also worked at Self, before returning to Glamour in 2001, where she is now Editor-in-Chief.

4. Donna Karan

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Karan, the designer behind DKNY and Donna Karan New York, started her career as an assistant to Anne Klein in the late 60s. “I learned to make coffee and sharpen pencils. It was an extraordinary experience,” she quipped at an event in 2012.

5. Ursula Burns

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Burns, the Madam Chairman and CEO of Xerox, started out at the very bottom of the company — as an internWayland Hicks, then president of marketing and customer operations, appointed Burns as his personal assistant in 1990, and the rest is history. Burns became the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company in 2009.

6. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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The Florida Congresswoman and DNC Chair started out as an aide to Congressman Peter Deutsch. “She’s a very, very hard worker,” Deutsch told Time.

7. Cindy Gallop

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The advertising executive and powerhouse behind IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, started off as a theater publicity assistant in Liverpool. “I was working every hour God gave me, and earning chicken feed, which is what happens in theater,” Gallop said during a 2009 Q&A.

8. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

ruth bader ginsburg

Ginsburg began her law career while juggling caring for her ill husband and young daughter. After graduating first in her class from Columbia Law School in 1959, Ginsburg clerked for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri for two years, after being denied a clerkship with Justice Felix Frankfurter because of her gender. But that clerkship led to research associate positions, a professorship, and various other steps on the way to Supreme Court Justics, and Bader Ginsburg is now a household name. She even has a Tumblr dedicated to her awesomeness.

9. Helen Gurley Brown

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Gurley Brown, widely credited for rejuvenating Cosmopolitan magazine, began her career as a secretary to Don Belding at advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding. Belding recognized her talent for writing and soon advanced her to a copywriting position, launching her career in advertising and, eventually, magazines.

Life’s Worth

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By Kimberly Seabrooks

Put your life in perspective and find its purpose!

Do you often feel that there is so much you want to do but life is passing you by? Are you constantly finding yourself at loggerheads with what you want from life and what it demands from you? If your answer to both these questions is a firm yes, then maybe there is a mismatch in the life that you are living and the life that you want to live!

When you live a life based upon someone else’s interpretation of what’s good for you, most of the times it leaves you miserable and unfulfilled. If you really wish to know yourself and experience life to its fullest then you must find out and get in touch with your life’s purpose. Defining a purpose sounds a little complicated; however when you actually get down to doing it you will discover that it is one of the most easiest things to do and it makes your life much less complicated and sad and you will often ask yourself “why didn’t I think of it before?”

It is your life and no one but you should decide what its purpose should be. Your life is not a part of any assembly line production where the thousands of end products would end up looking similar. You are a unique being and everything about you is different from others. You should try and get in touch with your inner self by focusing on your inner being and finding comfort within. Find out about the things that define you and what your expectations from your own self are. One you formulate a list of expectations you must derive a pattern out of those expectations and you will see that it is like a blue print of the life that you have craving to live!

Just defining the purpose is not the end. In fact it is just the beginning because the purpose will put you on a path to achieve what you are seeking in your life. You should analyze your strengths and weaknesses and everything should be turned into a “must do” item on your list. You should express yourself clearly about what you want to do and what drives you to achieve it. It is just not about a job or a relationship but it is about the more profound purpose that can be achieved anywhere with any job and in any relationship for that matter!

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