About Me

 This is me…and one of my adorable daughters, Grace.

I have been dreading writing this page. I’ve been trying to come up with a way to make myself sound perfect…an exact balance of all of the character traits I think I should probably have. Professional, but approachable; funny, but serious; young, but not too young; interesting, but not weird. It’s been exhausting (mentally, anyway; I haven’t actually written any of it down), and in the end, I’ve got to admit that I can’t do it. I’m not perfect.

I am me, however – the only me on the planet. And I might be the perfect VA for you, even though I occasionally do screw up. I’ll try to give you enough honest information about myself to help you decide whether we might be a good fit. If you like what you read, take a look at the Getting Started page or contact me by phone at 866-925-7990 (toll-free), or by email at allison (at) allisonschoonover (dot) com.

Personal Story

I think that most of us can pinpoint a handful of events and circumstances that have shaped us into who we are. Here are mine:

My mom died suddenly when I was 8. I was devastated. She was my everything, and then she was gone. However, I feel like somewhat of a traitor saying this, but so many good things have come from that one bad thing. It brought me closer to my sister. It brought my wonderful stepmom into my life. It taught me that I’m tough. That bad times will eventually end. That life is short – too short to waste time on silly stuff.

I’m the oldest sibling. I’m the type-A, perfectionist, rule-following, top-student-in-the-class, super-annoying older sister who is helplessly nerdy and uptight. I’ve mellowed, in my old age, but I’m still pretty uncool.

I’ve lived nearly all my life in a tiny rural community in central Iowa. We do have computers here, and TV, and even iPhones (I think), but we also have a lot of cornfields, tractors, and people wearing overalls. When I go to the store, I know everyone in it. When I read the paper, I know everyone in it. Everyone knows whose daughter I am, whose mother I am, and all of the embarrassing things I did as a teenager. It’s humbling. I love it.

I’m divorced. And remarried. I was never going to get married, and then, I was never going to get divorced, and then, I was never going to get remarried. I was also never going to have children, and I have five of them (and three amazing stepchildren). I quit working when I got remarried and stayed home to homeschool my three school-age kids, which has been the best experience of my life. When you’re home all day (and all night) with your children, you find out a lot of things about them – and yourself – and it truly changes who you are. My husband, John, is my best friend, my biggest supporter, and the most patient man on the planet.

I’m a recent revert to Catholicism. (Revert: former Catholic who has returned to the Church after much angst and to the horror of her non-Catholic friends). Being a follower of Christ has always been important to me (in theory, if not in practice), but I never really gave it serious thought until after I had my oldest child. I wanted him to grow up going to church every Sunday (I did not) so he felt like he belonged there (I never did). My faith is a big deal to me – the focus of my life.

Professional Story

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here – although still possibly more than you care to read 🙂 – but you can check out my LinkedIn page for dates and job responsibilities.

My first “real” job was as an Executive Admin for the VP of Service at a call center in my hometown (we’re tiny, but we do have a nationwide call center here – everyone in town has worked there at some point). It had very little to do with my degree (English Lit.), but I loved being an admin. I got to travel, I got to go to meetings with all of the bigwigs, and I got to know all kinds of confidential things that no one else knew. I loved it, but I wanted the opportunity to advance, and when you’re the Executive Admin for the top guy in the building, there isn’t really anywhere to go.

I quit my job after about four years to start my Virtual Assistant practice for the first time, because it seemed to offer the challenge and excitement that I wanted. I was a VA for about a year when my life got a little messy (see the bit above about being divorced) and I got an offer I couldn’t refuse from my former employer as a Compliance Analyst. At the time, I was a single mom with two little kids and a newborn, and running my own business was just too much. I hated to give up my VA practice, but part of me was relieved. I did a really bad job of recruiting clients that were perfect for me, so I ended up working with several  whose work styles and values just weren’t a good fit. They were wonderful people, and I did some great work with them, but I think I did them a favor when I let them go. Lesson learned.

Eventually, I became an Instructional Designer (fancy title for “person who writes training material”) at that same call center. I left after two years to stay home, and here we are, four years later. I think I’ve learned a lot (like the exact amount of coffee I can drink without feeling crazy, which is 24 ounces). I think I’ve grown up (I’m a lot easier to work with now than I used to be). And, I think I’ve figured out the rules I want to live by in my professional life:

  1. Figure out how to do something that no one else wants to do (like write macros in Excel, for instance, or calculate some obscure but vital statistic). It’ll make you invaluable.
  2. Skip the drama. It makes people hate working with you.
  3. Everyone messes up. Trying to hide a mistake is foolish (and it almost never works).
  4. If you do what you say you’re going to do, people will trust you.
  5. Every human life is beautiful. Treat the people you work with like they are precious gifts from God. They are.

Contact me

Now that you know a little bit about who I am, take the next step! If you think we’d work well together, let me know. You can contact me by phone at 866-925-7990 (toll-free), or by email at allison (at) allisonschoonover (dot) com. Take a look at the Getting Started page for an idea of what my interview process entails. It sounds scary, but it’s not.

If you like the idea of hiring a VA but think you need someone else, I can give you some ideas on what to look for and where to look.