Written by: Megan Winkler
Hello you capable, powerful, intelligent woman! You’re about to start your career and I know you’re full of emotion, probably a little anxious, and excited. I wish I’d known a few things when I was in your shoes – namely that you get to make more of the rules that you think you do – so here goes. When you’re starting your career, I think it’s most important to remember a few things.
You don’t have to do more when they ask.
The “they” I’m talking about is senior management and, likely, men in your organization. Society has told us that we women are here to serve. In the workplace, that looks like random admin tasks, setting up company lunches and get-togethers, and making sure there’s coffee in the kitchen in the morning. Just because they ask you to do this doesn’t mean it’s your job.
If you want to brew a pot of coffee because you’re going to enjoy that first cup right off, then go for it. Otherwise, reply with, “I hear you. Let me direct you to ____ who takes care of that.”
Make sure to speak up in meetings.
Depending on where you work, it may not be easy, but it’s important to speak up. Start practicing this early in your career to form the habit early. When you have something to contribute, do so. If someone speaks over you, stop, wait for them to finish, and then start your point over again. Be firm but kind – they’ll get the point. Find your allies in the organization who will help you promote your ideas and goals. You may be surprised who is ready to be a mentor!
Other women are not your enemy.
Look out for each other and promote each other. You may run into an older woman who isn’t interested in mentoring you or who’s gatekeeping information. Remember that these behaviors come from fear, not meanness. It’s how she learned. You’re the new, modern generation. Change how things are done. Reach out to the ladies in another department and set up a happy hour or bring another woman onto your project if given the chance.
Socialize outside of work.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-in-day-out of your job. You’ll make friends there and you’ll enjoy their company. But after 20 plus years in my career, I can tell you that I’ve only remained friends with two or three work friends after one of us left the job. Once that commonality of working at the same place is gone, it’s often hard to maintain the friendship. Socializing outside of work is essential to preventing burnout and living a happy life.
It's not forever.
Finally, remember that it’s not forever. If you happen to move into a career that’s not what you expected or you just hate your boss, it’s not permanent. You get the chance to reinvent many times in this life, so keep going after your dreams.
About the Author
Healthcare Operations Consultant
Anti-Burnout Coach & Business Leadership Expert | Host of The Good Business Witch Podcast