Hello Lovelies, in honor of Women’s History Month, it is my pleasure to share some of my experiences as an international jurist transitioning into the fashion industry and how they’ve allowed me to glean at least 3 major keys to career success.
So whatever line of work you are currently pursuing, you can apply these practical tips to help you accomplish your professional goals.
1. Seek out a mentor
I truly believe this to be a pivotal part of one’s career evolution. My earliest recollection of having a mentor, was during my first internship at the Marcus and Shapira law firm in Pittsburg, Philadelphia.
I was just a second year law student, with my rose-colored views of the justice system and the law in general, when one of the partners whom we’ll call Mrs Susan, was kind enough to offer her mentorship during lunch hours.
I didn’t really know what having a mentor or even being a mentee meant, but I was curious and eager to learn more, so I readily accepted.
Looking back, it was truly an honor to be able to receive such wise counsel, as she shared her views on how women are perceived in the field, advice on university curriculums, tips on how to plan out my career trajectory and enlightened me on the complex world of courtroom etiquette.
One of my favorite gems from her treasure chest of guidance, was to never gloat when you win a case and always stay gracious with your opponent. That has been a life principle that I’ve applied ever since and not just in the field of law.
This type of bi-weekly dynamic was the perfect environment to be accountable. Indeed, your mentor could be someone who proposes to play that role in your career or someone you look up to and ask.
Owing to these circumstances, having a mentor is quite simply having an accountability partner, one that helps you set realistic goals and follows through with practical advice on getting them accomplished, but it’s also someone that gives you constructive criticism that may be a hard pill to swallow but in the end, will help you face your challenges head-on.
2. Always ask for advice
When you have career decisions to make, your best bet is to ask for advice from different people.
Don’t despise the counsel of some based on their position on the “corporate totem pole”.
Many a time, the most efficient advice I’ve received, came from “lower ranking” employees, who are sometimes more accessible and open to sharing information. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself and seek guidance from as many colleagues or partners, as possible- including the higher ups.
I truly believe that the key to success is about making smart choices and so the more information you are able to gather, the more you are prepared for the decision making process.
During my time at the UNESCO, I remember asking my supervisor about an assignment I had and how it could be used to benefit our department during an upcoming event. I received great directions however, my most practical advice was from an intern who’d been there over a year and was keen on sharing her experience with me.
In conclusion I’d say that, every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally.
3. Dare to speak up
To be honest, I still have this issue sometimes, but I diligently remind myself that my thoughts are valuable, my views are valid and and my feedback is worthy of being heard.
Although most business fields are male dominated, as women in this day and age, we are no longer in a position of archaic submission. Today we are blessed to have strong, inspiring and spirited role models paving the way to more equal representation- which allows our voices to be heard.
It’s important to note that as women because we have been socialized to self-censor, we often dismiss our ideas. In the book The Curse of the Good Girl, author Rachel Simmons writes that starting from a young age, girls are told they need to appear perfect. As a result, these girls grow into women who hesitate to speak up in class and in meetings, meanwhile their male peers get more credit for asking questions and having good ideas. The gender gap is thus widened as the young men gain the advantage of getting more feedback which translates into a stronger support system, crucial to personal and professional success.
To help me with this I got the study guide by Randy Paterson entitled “Assertive Workbook”. It is an awesome guide to building self-confidence to express our ideas and standing up for ourselves.
One time I had to ask my Congressional internship supervisor at the United States House of Representatives about finalizing an assignment using additional content from a law that was in the process of being passed. I had to speak up and let him know I did my research and my assessment was relevant. By taking a stand and sharing my view, I was able to give the assignment a new perspective and show the rest of the staff that being confident and exchanging is what makes the law evolve and adapt to our current lives.
To conclude I’ll leave you with the enlightening words of Audre Lorde:
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves.”
Hope this was helpful and Thanks for stopping by!