I’ve been so blessed to have had incredible mentors along the way to guide me and steer me in the right direction. From senior female leaders that I now call friends to high-level male managers who probably looked at me like their daughters or even granddaughters, a few key pieces of advice really stood out and have made an impression on me during my time on Wall Street.
Honestly, part of me is compiling this list as a reminder to myself to keep checking in with these points on a regular basis. So save this list, refer to it later, or send it to a friend.
Hope this helps someone else as much as it’s helped me!
AS SOON AS YOU GET COMFORTABLE, IT’S TIME TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT
This seems a little counter-intuitive, because we all want to be experts right? This advice was given to me when I was a young intern by a very senior banker who now reports to the CEO of a large public bank. His point, which was in response to my question, “how did you get to where you are today?” is that to keep propelling your career you need to be a well-rounded professional with different skill sets.
So when you’ve reached the point of mastering your current position and you aren’t learning something new every day, it’s time to change course and push yourself to learn a new job. In banking, this often means switching from a product group to coverage group or making the jump from investment banking coverage to private equity. If you’re a lawyer, maybe it’s time to switch to a firm that covers a different industry. Same for marketing or social media management.
The more experiences you have on your resume, the more well-rounded you will become.
For example, let’s say you are looking for a senior leader with 20 years of experience and you have two candidates to choose from. One had the same job for those 20 years, slowly working their way up. The other was able to advance sooner and has a range of 3-4 jobs over that same time period (with the same company), and experience in different sectors working with a wide range of clients.
Which would you choose?
Again, I know this one can be hard to think about because you don’t want to move too soon. So once you feel COMFORTABLE in your current role (i.e. you feel like you know everything you’re doing and you aren’t learning any more) sit down and write down your dream job. How long will it take you to advance to that level? To figure out what steps you need to take in between, create two columns on your piece of paper. On the left, write down the skills you feel like you’ve mastered. On the right, write down the skills of an ideal leader in that dream job. Now, think about what positions or backgrounds offer that skill set and make an action plan for yourself detailing how many years you think you would need in each to master the skills and there you have it… a path to your dream career!
MAKE IT A PITCH
This can be hard when you’re just starting somewhere new but it’s important to contribute your thoughts and ideas when you are a part of a team. Have a dream job at your company? Have an idea you know would be great for your company? MAKE THE PITCH!
Spend some time (a lot of time) in PowerPoint or Canva and create a beautiful pitch lined with statistics to support your ideas.
Make it impossible for them to say no.
Because I promise you that Walt was SO right when he said “if you can dream it, YOU CAN DO IT.”
Now, some advice from yours truly.
THERE’S REALLY NO SUCH THING AS AN “EXPERT“
The more “professionals” I meet, the more I come to realize that no matter the field or sector, people always try to seem more accomplished than they really are. People always want you to think they know more than they really do. In reality, the people most often deemed “experts” are just really good at talking. Of course, there are professionals that know more than everyone else about a certain topic, but no one is infallible and everyone makes mistakes.
So remember not to be intimidated by others because with a little hard work you can be an expert too. So, my advice…
WHEN IN DOUBT, FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.
Write down some “buzz words” in your industry or sector to throw around, do the best you can, and dress for the job you want.