I have participated in a lot of discussions on LinkedIn and through several blogs on topics that range from home to health to business (and everything in between). A question was posed asking for advice for young women who are just getting started in their careers. I offered a few thoughts to the discussion, but decided that it deserved its own post.
As a mother of five children, four of whom are girls, this particular question really hit home for me. My oldest is currently 15 and going into 10th grade. Before I know it she’ll be on her own, looking to find her own way in the world. What advice could I give her, or any of my girls, as a mother, mentor, and woman? As a matter of fact, what advice would I give anyone starting out in their career? Here are a few thoughts:
– Ethics & Morals. Establish your morals and ethics early on, and do not deviate from them. You’ll likely be asked to do something that is against what you believe to be ethical or moral someday. Do not let them deter you (even for a promotion). Hold steadfast to what you believe and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that will open for you.
– Master your skills fully. Absorb and learn everything you can from those around you, situations and experiences, school, everything – and apply that knowledge to everything you do. Whether it’s computer, people, training, leading, or whatever your passion is, learn it well and keep learning. There will always be something new to learn in any field. Don’t ever stop learning.
– Make friends & fans. Don’t step on people on your way up the ladder of success. The more friends and fans you make, the faster you’ll rise, and the longer you’ll stay there.
– Don’t burn your bridges. Whether you’re leaving jobs of your own free will, or not, don’t burn the bridges you do have. You never know when you’ll need to use those contacts in the future. Even if you don’t like someone or something about the organization, be professional in all dealings. Feelings get hurt (if you take things too personally), but time will forget.
– Network, network, network. Get your name out there early and often. Meet everyone you can. Someday your name will be everywhere within your industry (hopefully in a good way). I recently went to a partner conference for one of our vendors. As I was introducing myself around (to people I’d never heard of or met before), they kept saying, “Ooohhh, so you’re Kristy Lopez.” My name has gotten around in the wireless industry, and I have built a reputation for myself as the “woman who doesn’t take anyone’s crap, period.” I have put myself out there, I have learned not to take ‘no’ for an answer, and I have learned what it takes to stand up for myself and my company. I am a wanted woman, which is a good thing in any industry.
– Stand up for yourself. There are lots of people who will put you down (just because you’re a woman), they will tell you that you can’t accomplish your goals, they will try to stand in your way, they will want to see you fall and fail. Don’t give them that satisfaction. It is not failing if you’ve given your best. If you didn’t fully succeed the first time, get up, brush yourself off, and go at it again using what you have learned. If that path didn’t get you to your goal, try another one. Don’t be bullied and don’t let anyone discourage you! You can be and do absolutely anything you want!
There will always be more points that can (and probably should) be added, but these are key for me…the things I wish I’d known starting out.