(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday marks the 60th anniversary of Administrative Professionals Day, which, while not a legal holiday, may be at least worth noting.
There are 4.1 million secretaries and administrative assistants working in the U.S., according to the Department of Labor.
Considered by some to be a marketing ploy for flower and greeting card companies, Administrative Professionals Day and Week have been sponsored by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) since 1952. The name was changed from Professional Secretaries Week and Day in 2000 “to keep pace with changing job titles and expanding responsibilities of today’s administrative workforce,” according to the IAAP.
The profession is significant to Lakisha Morris, 33, of Brooklyn, N.Y., an executive assistant at the human services organization, The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
Over a decade ago, Morris was working as a clerical worker at a law firm in New York, part-time and without benefits.
“I was at a job where I didn’t have any benefits and a small child,” she said. “Being there for nine and a half years, it was time for change. But I wasn’t ready to go back to college at the time.”
A friend told her about Grace Institute, which provides free job help, including computer skills and business writing, for “underserved” women in New York City.
In late 2006, Morris started attending one of the nine-month programs four days a week at the organization. She got a job as an administrative assistant with The Catholic Charities.
She said she learned not just business skills from the program but she also received encouragement and a boost to her confidence.
Becoming an administrative assistant was “an important step in my career,” she said.
Morris has since changed titles three times at her current employer, earned a bachelor’s degree and will begin a part-time program in the fall leading to a Master’s degree in public administration.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio