Yesterday was a productive day. One of those days that come 6pm, having to leave the office a tad early to go to a free networking event felt more like a chore than a treat. I’m really glad though that I made myself do it. I knew nothing about wimLink, a networking group on Meetup, aside from the fact that it’s focused on women in digital. Usually more apt to attend events specific to social media, I thought it was a good chance to mix it up. The panel was an interesting mix as well, featuring Beth Buehler from Rodale, Megan Clarken from Nielsen, and Emily Susskind of Golden Seeds.
Most of the themes highlighted were things I have heard before, but something about hearing them again in early September felt right. Good time to refocus, get some perspective, and get some inspirational energy to charge through the almost last quarter to 2015. While it’s not fall yet, it’s fast approaching. As students are back in the classroom, it feels fitting to take a second look at all things career for the remainder of the year ahead.
- Learning is bigger than mentorship. While it’s great to have one person who helps to guide you, it’s far better to learn every bit you can from everyone around you. I thought this was a very important point, as it underscores the never-ending nature of learning in addition to allowing for various types of relationships. I know personally I have learned from so many people who I do not know in a close way at all, and I do not feel like those experiences have been any less valuable. True, mentorship does allow that opportunity to bounce ideas off of the other person, but I agree with the discussion last night that this area is so much more than what you learn from any one person.
- It’s not too late to be or do what you want. This is always a good one to remember. Megan Clarken noted that she didn’t start down her true professional path until she was 35. Since that’s my age, that was an “aha” moment for me. It was very inspirational to hear Megan share her story, how she turned around from a serious injury that took her off her Olympic path and how she completely reinvinted herself and her direction at 35. Similarly, Beth and Emily shared their stories of how they moved through seemingly different types of roles to land in their current positions which manage to draw on all of their prior expertise.
- You have to own your career. Beth Buehler shared the story of reaching the point where she had to push to expand her role in order to create her next step. That meant justifying to management why this change is necessary and explain the value you’ve brought to explain why you’re worth more, and that the right time is now. Great reminder, because as much as there are other factors that help drive your career, you have a role, too.
- Your career will be full of struggles to push through and pivot points you’ll have to opt for and own. Yes, the two conflict – yet Emily Susskind noted that somehow both are true. The conscious decision to choose a new direction doesn’t mean you’ve given up. Instead, it means you’ve evaluated your options and made the decision to own the next track in your career progression.
- Embrace imperfection. The Meetup organizer, Shareablee CEO Tania Yuki, shared a story from one of the Meetup’s earlier sessions, featuring one of Match.com’s founders. When asked about how she balances it all, she responded back that she’s not perfect at any of it. There is so much conversation where women are discussing the notion of “having it all”, which adds this layer of pressure whereby women think there is an expectation of perfection – need to have the perfect career, present the perfect physical image, and be the perfect mom, when the reality is sometimes components here and there slide – and it’s time for us to be okay with the occasional imperfections along the way.
- Make time for you. There were a lot of audience questions about balancing family and workload. Although the panelists do not have children, they highlighted they continue to work to prioritize their “something” – whatever that personal passion is outside of work that rounds you out – and insist on making time to pursue it. Beth Buehler noted that she notices her on-the-job performance isn’t as strong without this piece. Always a good reminder to prioritize the personal, which can sometimes get neglected in the mix.