I am in a great position (professionally speaking) and I don't know how to best take advantage of it. Please help?
posted by Xany to Work & Money (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how to phrase this question in such a way that isn't absolutely dripping of unearned privilege and things, but anyway:
I am an IT consultant with a global corporation. I joined as a graduate just under 2 years ago, and despite some rocky patches, I'm now in a role I feel is wonderful and supportive and where I can form a great professional bedrock on which to build my future career. I might, if I played my cards right, go quite far.
The problem is, I have no freaking idea how to do it.
Here is what I think I have going for me, as well as my thought processes so far:
1) My boss is supportive, likes me, and thinks I have loads of potential. He hasn't said so in as many words, but he's said on a couple of occasions - which I remember because he's sort of reserved generally - that he thinks I'm doing really well. I have a lot of autonomy and am trusted to drive things with minimal direction, and I think I'm doing pretty well. But maybe I could do more.
2) Said boss is about to go away for two months. This is (and he's told me so, in no uncertain terms) my chance to step up. I've been working with him for a few months now, I can perform my role well and without supervision, so I know this is true, only - what exactly should I do? Argh.
3) This company in general is pretty good at professional development and mentoring and things, but - and this is a gigantic but - you have to proactively seek it out and ask for it, and I have huge issues with asking for help. Yes, this is ridiculous. Yes, I'm working on it. Tips are appreciated. (Even asking this question is hard for me.) I even have an assigned mentor, and I barely go to him for anything.
4) My aunt is fairly senior in this industry, as in executive-level senior. She lives in a different country, works for a different corporation, and I don't know her all that well ... but she's said a few times that she thinks it's wonderful that one of her nieces is in science/tech (I am the only one; the rest are in arts/finance), and has once kindasorta offered to chat with me about my career. But I don't know what to ask, what I can ask, what I should ask - and so I never really have - and this is despite knowing she would help me if I just went to her! Yes, I have issues, I realize this.
5) I'm pretty smart; I pick up things fairly quickly and am capable of running quite far with them once I do. In fact I'd say one of my biggest weaknesses is not running far enough with things, once I've grasped them - I tend to wait for permission rather than forge ahead and ask for forgiveness later. Maybe this is a confidence thing, I don't know. Moreover I am in a speciality that (a) I really like and am good at, (b) is quite high in demand, and (c) requires fast adaptability to changes, so being smart and a quick study is very helpful.
6) Thanks to some early exposure, I'm pretty good at the meet-and-greet part of networking and people tend to like me at said networking events. I have the spiel down pat. I'm really bad at following up, though, and I think that is (again) down to my asking-for-help issues.
7) I am female. I actually think this is an advantage in IT because there are so, so many supportive programs and things available to women in IT that aren't available to men, because they want more of us to stay in this industry. I am perfectly aware that this is because there remains a lot of entrenched sexism in the higher levels of IT because older people have older prejudices, and that will work against me, but my peers have all (thus far) treated me with perfect equality so I have a good feeling about things, generally.
I think I like and am good at what I'm doing. I think I want to make a career out of it - and I think, if I wanted to make a career out of it, I could make it quite far up the corporate ladder. I think, in 20 years, I could be where my aunt is now. I think I want to see the world and do interesting things with big data in fascinating places, and that this path might just enable me to do so.
But I don't know how. I feel like I have all these building blocks and I want to turn them into a tower but all I know how to do is shove them into a pile and stare.
So I suppose my question is ... what would you do, if you were me?