What is great about being an office administrator is that I get to interact with our customers on the front lines, but I also have an understanding of the whole organization. Adminsitration is a great way to learn about an industry, or organization, excellent for meeting new people and gaining valuable experience. This is a good opportunity for those who seek a fairly predictable work setting, but can handle ambiguity well.
I have only been an administrative assistant in higher education settings. I enjoyed the pay and the increase in responsibility. However, when I wanted to learn or do more, I couldn't because being an administrative assistant became a restrictive box. I couldn't learn how to do payroll or budgeting because HR says I need to be on the management level. I couldn't join interdepartmental planning groups because part of being an administrative assistant meant manning the front desk. While all of my direct supervisors relied on me heavily because I was quick, reliable, and had no problem with doing what needed to be done to get a project completed, in the long run, the boredom made me visibly sad. For me, the downside of working in higher education is the end of each semester. I lose student interactive and my amount of work dwindles to nothing. I don't like being idle or bored.
It depends on the employer or the type of organization you're in. I'd also worked as an admin asst. with another company. It's sort of small business, so they let us do (and learn to do) almost everything, from interpretation in meetings, helping the engineers do data analysis for the project, translation, externally official correspondence and other secretarial tasks or even the procurement! It was very challenging. Now I'm still an admin asst. but my current employer is making things boring, to me it's sick.
this career is an intermittent stream of pointless activities to support other people. I like that the people are pleasant. I don't have a high salary, I'm not doing project based work. I need a new job.