How a Retiree Makes an Extra $22,000 as a Virtual Assistant

Donna Jonas earns $22,000 putting in a couple of hours a day as a virtual personal assistant.

On a typical day, 65-year-old Donna Jonas will book flights, order gifts for employees of large companies, manage restaurant reservations and make sure that meetings synch onto Google Calendar.

One time, she even had to place an order for live chicks for a professional who pined after the simple life and decided to build a coop.

A former personal assistant to the chief executive of a large company, Jonas formally retired from her job during the pandemic but still spends a few hours each day working as a virtual personal assistant for everyone from investment bankers and a district attorney to medical students and a blind musician.

“A lot of the time it’s researching and calendaring for people who don’t have time to do that preliminary legwork,” Jonas, who was profiled in Parade’s annual “What People Earn” feature, told TheStreet. “[…] I like the diversity and that no two days are alike.”

This Is How You Can Become A Virtual Personal Assistant

The traditional concept of retirement is changing fast as millions in their sixties and seventies leave full-time work but take on side gigs both for personal fulfilment and money given rising inflation.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics found that 1.5 million Americans who retired between 2020 and 2022 later reentered the labor market.

For Jonas, the post-retirement dream had always been traveling (this interview took place while she was in Aruba!) She found that working a few hours a day was a great way to keep some income flowing in to fund those plans.

Jonas earned $22,000 doing this work in 2021.

Donna Jonas is featured in Parade’s What People Earn 2022.

Courtesy of Parade/TheStreet

As Jonas came from a background as a corporate personal assistant, she found the transition from in-person to virtual very easy. For those just starting out, it helps to play up strong organizational skills and an ability to help solve problems.

“You have to be personable,” Jonas said. “People need to know that they can do the job, they need to like you and they need to trust you because they’re allowing you access to their personal information.”

She advises looking to get into this field to start with something simple like food ordering. Both professionals and people with elderly parents will often post requests for someone to spend a few hours a week taking care of these day-to-day things on platforms like Upwork  (UPWK) – Get Upwork Inc. Report

But for those interested in making it a career, investing in the proper technology and treating it like a career rather than a job is crucial.

“I already had the technology,” Jonas said. “I have a printer, a scanner and I’ve got two monitors. I live alone so I already had the space. I was already set up.”

The Future Of Work Is Remote

Despite some employers’ efforts to recreate the culture that existed prior to 2020, the pandemic has irreversibly shaken up how many view — and want to — work.

A study by online freelancing platform Upwork found that over 26% of the American workforce worked remotely for at least part of 2021 while one fourth of white-collar jobs in the country will be remote by 2023.

The percentage of fully remote jobs paying over $100,000 has also grown from 9% at the end of 2020 to more than 15% now while the number of remote workers who said they might resign before going back to the office against their will was at 55% in January 2022.


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