Could TV Administrative Professionals Survive in Today's Workplace?

TV administrative professionals

With all the time we spend in the office, it’s no surprise television series so often spotlight the workplace. Administrative professionals on TV range from no-nonsense to quirky to downright wacky. But regardless of their personas, do these TV admins have the administrative skills to cut it in the real world?

Over the years, we’ve seen our favorite TV admin characters come and go. (In the case of Murphy Brown, who famously fired admins at an alarming rate, they came and went a bit more frequently!) While we grow to love these characters, it's unlikely any of them could survive in a real-life administrative position.

Here are four TV admins and how they could step up their game to achieve career success:

Radar O’Reilly – M*A*S*H

There’s no doubt Radar’s eerie ability to anticipate the needs of his M*A*S*H commanding officer is a trait many admins would like to have. However, to thrive in today’s workforce, Radar would definitely need to work on his unorthodox filing system. Filing a bugle under “B” might work, but filing a clipboard under “K” would not. In a busy office setting, it’s crucial that organizational systems are easily understood by anyone who needs to get their hands on a file or retrieve a document. A tickler file would be an excellent starting point for Radar to begin learning better organization.

Joan Holloway – Mad Men

As an office manager surrounded by Mad Men, Joan is the essence of calm, cool and confident. She's driven and oversees her administrative staff without missing a beat. What could she possibly need to learn? Well, picture Joan trying to work an Outlook calendar for the first time. (Anyone have a hack for removing cigarette ash from a keyboard?) To flourish in a modern admin position, Joan would certainly need to invest in some tech training, and possibly a Microsoft Office certification.

Donna Meagle – Parks and Recreation

As office manager for the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department, Donna is known for taking care of business, even if business is sometimes soliciting foot rubs from her colleagues. When it comes to administrative skills, she could use a few lessons on properly managing social media. Donna could definitely be schooled on the importance of logging into the correct account before tweeting something that causes an office scandal, as well as keeping personal social media accounts work-friendly.

Jonathan – 30 Rock

It’s true that Jonathan keeps Jack Donaghy’s calendar straight and guards his office door at 30 Rock like a rabid bulldog, but he can be downright unpredictable and unwelcoming at times. While his antics may fly in the eccentric setting of NBC headquarters, he could stand a few pointers on how to handle difficult people — or, in some cases, even not-so-difficult people.

Our favorite TV admins are certainly entertaining, but it’s clear that they’d have a challenging time succeeding without the administrative skills and traits of a true professional.

To learn more about what it takes to thrive as an administrative professional today, visit our Office of the Future page.

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