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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Staff Assistant
Agency:  Smithsonian Institution
Job Announcement Number:  14-06

This position is closed and no longer accepting online applications through USAJOBS.

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$46,963.00 to $61,048.00 / Per Year
Monday, December 16, 2013 to Friday, January 03, 2014
Full Time - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment. This is not a federal position
1 vacancy in the following location:
Cambridge, MA View Map
This position is open to all candidates eligible to work in the United States.
Q - Nonsensitive


About the Agency

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is a component of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).  The position of Staff Assistant is located in SAO's Office of Advancement and External Affairs.  This position provides technical and administrative support to staff members in the areas of advancement and external affairs.


  • Occasional Travel
  • Occasional travel required


  • No


  • Direct Deposit/Electronic Funds Transfer required for salary payment
  • May be required to serve a one-year probationary period.
  • Pre and Post appointment background check.
  • May be required to work nights and weekends. Travel may be required.


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Duties may include but are not limited to:
Administrative Support:

  • Compiles data for reports with responsibility for drafting text, recommending graphic design, and providing statistical tables.
  • Tracks all correspondence, facsimile, reports, etc., and follows-up to ensure timely action and response.
  • In coordination with staff or supervisor, arranges for meeting, contacts participants, assembles correspondence, records, reports, and other materials.
  • Prepares travel authorizations, vouchers, and miscellaneous vouchers, prepares requisitions, and complies data for budget submissions, etc.

External Relations:
  • Coordinates mailings for invitations and tracks responses.
  • Works cooperatively with advancement staff in overseeing layout and copies prior to submitting mailings for invitations, solicitation packages, and correspondence.
  • Assembles solicitation packages.
  • Prepares preliminary drafts of correspondence, etc.
  • Maintains and updates personal biographical and gift information for program rosters and for use in assessment of constituents’ participation patterns.
  • Ensures materials are current and makes necessary arrangements for updates.
  • Assists in drafting and proofreading correspondence, presentations, brochures, etc.
  • Assists with escorting guests as assigned.
  • Assists with logistical preparations for special events including food and beverage service, decor, lighting, sound and music, protocol, seating, invitations, etc.

Gift Processing
  • Ensures new gifts/payments/pledges are properly recorded by the Office of Advancement and External Affairs.
  • As assigned, coordinates with the SI Office of the Gift Registrar to resolve discrepancies, to verify that information is current and accurate, and to reconcile records between SAO, the central office, and the Office of the Comptroller and the Treasurer. The incumbent notifies the supervisor of discrepancies that warrant higher level attention.
  • Is responsible for preparing deposit documents for all gifts received and ensuring that all records are properly annotated within advancement records.
  • Identifies, organizes, and provides information on areas of donor interest, and drafts profiles of prospects and complies findings for consideration by advancement staff.
  • Maintains and updates personal biographical and gift information for program rosters and for use in assessment of constituents' participation patterns.

Events Coordination:
  • Assists in the planning of SAO events such as selected scientific symposia, special high-profile Observatory lectures, and Congressional visits.
  • Recommends vendors, transportation and accommodations; coordinates implementation details from room reservations, to requisitions and vendor contracts.
  • Assists in the design of event invitations, programs, posters and other materials.
  • Tracks and reports all expenses for each event and compares to budgets and estimated expenses.


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One year of full-time experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level that is close or similar to the work of this position. The experience includes activities such as providing administrative support in the areas of gift processing, analysis and reporting, and other administrative operations in a small to mid-sized advancement office. 

For Requirements please refer to qualification standards to Group Coverage Qualification Standards for Clerical and Administrative Support Positions


Your application will be evaluated first for the basic qualifications described above. The applications that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

  • Knowledge of the advancement and external affairs program to insure timely and appropriate requests for information.
  • Skill in producing written information so that the intended audience (i.e. donor, prospect, etc.) understands the material.
  • Skill in analyzing data in order to prepare and present findings.
  • Skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with people of different background and interests.
  • Knowledge of administrative and management principles and procedures and evaluative techniques to coordinate functional operations.
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally when communicating to employees at all levels and external audiences when representing the organization at events.
  • Skill performing in a busy and high pressure work environment and to be able to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to prioritize effectively and to organize the flow of work while maintaining excellent customer-centered results.

To preview questions please click here.


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Click on the "Apply Online" button on the upper right side of the page.

Please Note:
  • You must apply for this position online through the 'Apply Online' button and submit required supplemental documents (if they are relevant to you).
  • You may submit required documents by uploading them online during the application process;
    You may manually fax required documents.  Faxes are received by an automated system, not a physical fax machine.  Documents that are faxed as part of the application process must be sent with the system generated cover sheet by the closing date.  Documents faxed without the system generated coversheet are not retrievable and cannot be considered as part of the application package.  
  • The complete application package, including any required documents, is due in the Smithsonian Office of Human Resources on the closing date of the announcement by 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • If you are unable to apply online, paper applications may be accepted with prior approval of the Contact Person listed below.


Your application package should include the
following documents:
  • Detailed resume created in the USAJOBS Resume Builder.
  • Unofficial school transcripts, if the position has an education requirement or if you are using education to qualify.  If selected for the position, you must provide an official transcript before appointment.
  • Proof of U.S. accreditation for foreign
    study, if applicable.


Judy Gallagher
Phone: 617-495-7374
Fax: 617-495-7263
Agency Information:
Human Resources
60 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Mail Stop 17
Cambridge, MA
Fax: 617-495-7263


At the end of the application process you will be able to create and save a PDF file that contains your responses to the assessment questions.  You may save this file as receipt of your application.      

The Smithsonian receives many applications for each job.  Each application is reviewed carefully which may take a few weeks.  We will send you an e-mail to update you as we go through phases of the application review process.  You may also check your application status by logging into and selecting the tab "My USAJOBS;" e-mailing; or by contacting the Office of Human Resources Representative listed.

Additional Information:
  • The Smithsonian embraces diversity and equal employment opportunity
  • The Smithsonian does not pay relocation expenses.

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