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Virtual Assistant Certificate option available at all three comprehensive campuses
Photos and Story by James Hill
A new certificate helps students harness the power of the information age to allow them to pursue a wide range of employment opportunities from the comfort of their own homes. The Virtual Assistant Certificate prepares students to carry out a number of traditional office functions – such as accounting, administrative assisting, data management, and the like – as an independent contractor from a remote location. All that’s required is a marketable set of skills and an Internet connection.
PCC is the first Northwest community college to offer a virtual assistant certificate, said Verna Reardon, who coordinates the program at the Cascade Campus. The program is offered at the Sylvania and Rock Creek campuses as well. Reardon added that the certificate program is not about adding specific office or professional skills – virtual assistants are assumed to be proficient in the services they offer – but rather about how to set oneself up as a virtual assistant.
“It’s really about helping people to harness technology so they can be entrepreneurs,” Reardon said. “Virtual assistants can be writers, editors, Web designers, accountants – pretty much anyone you would normally find in an office. The difference is that virtual assistants work for themselves, from just about anywhere.”
In addition to helping students with the basics of setting up an office and starting their own business, the Virtual Assistant Certificate connects students with the growing network of virtual assistants around the country and around the world through organizations such as the International Virtual Assistants Association. The association helps connect virtual assistants with clients, and also serves as a reference network for customers who are seeking a specific set of skills.
Reardon added that students can earn the certificate in less than a year. What’s more, she said, virtual assistants can match their clients and work with their own skills and interests, allowing for a degree of freedom that office-bound workers often don’t have.
“It’s really a great way to earn a good living working from home,” Reardon said. “Virtual assisting gives office workers a freedom and flexibility they’ve never had before.”