To celebrate International Women’s Day today, we reached out to women from different industries to share their advice to the next generation of young career women. We asked, ‘To those women starting out in their careers now – what would you want to tell them?’
We can all learn so much from one another as long as we are willing to share and mutually support one another, which is the exact basis for starting these Open Conversation features regularly.
There are definitely advisory themes of self-belief and confidence – which we know is a big, recurring topic in the Yellow Eve community – and the reminder that you can carve out a life journey that is non-linear or different to others, and still have an equally meaningful and rewarding career.
Read through the brilliant collaboration of advice below, see which bits resonate most with you and gain some career motivation in the process!
Natalie Heselton, UK Managing Partner, Wunderman Thompson UK
Don’t let yourself be something that gets in your way. If you are good enough for a promotion, ask for it. If you believe you’re worth more, articulate it. If you know there is more than you have to offer, offer it. Too often do we see women at the start of their career presume to take the passive role, to facilitate the growth of others and say ‘ok’ where others say no. I’m all for being a team player but you won’t help anyone in the long run by not focussing on your own development and taking it into your own hands. Anything is achievable. Don’t wait on someone else’s validation to empower you to carve your own path.
Antoinette Daniel, Founder of Just Helpers
My advice to women is to know who you are and own it, nobody else will. Everyone feels like an imposter at some point in their life, so pull your socks up and be bold anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, you won’t get it otherwise. And if you don’t like someone’s first answer, don’t accept it. Most things can be negotiated. I wasted far too many years trying to be polite in that way. Seek out an authentic, all female network and collaborate with them as much as possible. You’ll meet some amazing people along the way. And most importantly, have fun.
Sally Hargrave, Manager – Project, Fundraising & Marketing
Be proactive – take actions daily to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Listen closely, ask questions, be curious, find out what your colleagues’ unique values are, what differences they bring. Learning others’ perspectives, experiences, solutions will hugely impact your personal and career development alongside that of your peers, team and organisation. By your everyday actions create a safe space for people to share, be open, discuss, and challenge.
Charlene Kristina, Mindset & Empowerment Coach
Explore different career options; don’t feel trapped working in the same industry or on the same career path forever. There are so many routes out there, whether that be employed or self-employed. Networking can expose you to heaps of opportunity so attend events, utilise LinkedIn and connect with people you relate to or are inspired by.
Georgina Dick, Community Engagement Manage, ProjectSet
- Build your network
Don’t be shy to introduce yourself to new people. This skill does not come naturally to all, but it’s important to think about it laterally and believe in your ability to be confident. It can be daunting when you see people who are great at networking and public speaking, as you don’t see the development process, they went through to become such confident individuals. It is important to remember that confidence and network will come with practice, and you are just as capable as anyone else.
- Don’t give in to Imposter Syndrome
On the topic of being capable, you are indeed capable of great things and don’t let anyone make you doubt this. The amount of experience, years of work or accreditations an individual have bear no relevance to the importance of their ideas. If you are in a group discussion your ideas are just as valid and innovative as anyone else’s. Most importantly if you have been invited to such a situation, be it work experience, a job etc. the people you are with have confidence in you, which is why you were picked. So, rest assured if your own self saboteur tries to undermine you, your thoughts are valued, and you need to dig deep to overcome any insecurity that stand in your way to success.
Lawrencia Nelson, Brand Consultant and Founder, Lena Media Consultancy
Do not be afraid to ask questions and learn from other women in the same industry as yourself, research on how they started and see what you can learn. Be resilient and constantly keep going, do not be deterred by setbacks if anything that should drive you to keep going.
Jen Bayford, Co-Founder & Marketing Director, Growth Animals
If only I had known earlier to bring my super-strengths to work with me every day and be myself, instead of trying to fit a certain expectation.
I WISH WISH WISH someone had said to me twenty years ago that we are all brilliant, we all have so much potential, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to each other and that if we show up as ourselves every day we are going to bring our best bits and shine in our careers.
Jessica Hickman Pty Ltd, Speaker, Educator, Author
As young women are approaching the world of work and its many obstacles, I think it is important that we learn to foster and nurture one thing above all and that is our internal environments. Not the internal environments that we learnt about in high school Biology – though that is essential to our health – but rather the role we play on our own happiness, empowerment and future-orientated thinking.
It is so easy as a woman, particularly in a male dominated workplace, to feel deflated, under-appreciated and doubtful of your worth in your job, which is why the new generation of women entering workplaces must work to nurture their internal environments for themselves. Practicing mindfulness and daily affirmations that remind you of your worth; do whatever you need to do to feel empowered and confident and do so too for others. Enter the workplace stronger and leave the workplace better.
Rosie Davies-Smith, founder of PR dispatch
Don’t be all things to all people. Niche yourself and become an expert in your field. It’s good to say no to business opportunities that aren’t right.
Cat Davis, Group Marketing Director, The MISSION Group
When you’re setting out on your career, dream big. What life do you want? What work do you want to do? Set your aspirations high and remember you’re on your own journey, so there’s no point comparing yourself to others.
Once you have an idea where you want to go, get yourself a mentor or a coach. Again, it pays to think big – who knows, that person you respect and admire might just be thrilled to give you some advice or support.
Don’t sit in silence if you’re uncertain about something. Speak up. Ask for clarity.
In your workplace itself, remember you don’t need to have some kind of ‘office personality’. Be yourself, be authentic. When it comes to getting the job done, make it your mission to create value, not noise. But as far as salaries go, remember you get what you negotiate, not what you deserve.
And of course, always treat people how you want to be treated.
Myra Khanna, founder, Sama
Take risks. By taking real risks in your career, you are not only helping yourself, but you are helping womenkind. Embrace any opportunity you have to learn and grow. Be comfortable in the discomfort. Surround yourself with people who support you and challenge you. Build and nurture your network. A lot of people will tell you no or not now – that’s fine, you’ll get there in the end.
Kathryn Jonas, Director, Wild & Stone
My best advice for women starting their careers now would be don’t be afraid of being a rebel, of bucking the trend, speaking up and not feeling like you must follow a conventional path. If you have passion for what you do every day it will propel you faster and harder in your career.
Claire Brown, Life & Career Change Coach
My advice to those just starting out in the workplace is to get to know yourself really well. Get clear on what your values are, what’s really important to you and what success really means for you in your life. We can be so easily swayed by others’ advice, our perceptions and comparisons of others’ success – if you stay true to yourself you’re off to a great start by ensuring you pursue work opportunities that really align with who you are and what you find personally fulfilling and meaningful.
See your career as an unfolding journey; the era of linear career paths and the concept of ‘climbing the ladder’ is a thing of the past. We now have much greater fluidity when thinking about potential job roles and a wealth of options to explore, so hold lightly to the need for a 10-year plan and embrace the learning that unfolds at every stage.
Grainne Byrne, Associate Director, Represent
If I could guide my younger self during the many occasions when she was too nervous to submit a CV for a job, too afraid to speak up in a meeting room with men, or lacking the conviction to go for a promotion, I’d tell her to ‘go for it with the confidence of a man.’
All too often we as women avoid blowing our trumpet, while men are much less modest! I can’t tell you how many CVs from overly confident under-qualified men I have received for recent work postings, compared to the few I received from undeniably competent women. The confidence gap is alarming and is holding women back from taking the first and next steps in their careers and claiming her rightful place in the world of work. We need to conquer this fear within ourselves if we are to conquer the world as leaders.