"Slow" did not seem to be part of my vocabulary during my 26-year STEM career. In fact, much of my career revolved around outrageous deadlines, organizational changes and accelerated product releases that impacted my workday. This surely does not account for customer calls, events, outages and unexpected travel.
Busy was my reality. What I did not realize most of these years, is that I should have been carving out time to work on my career. I now realize I was not alone. Many women skip lunches, schedule out networking events and avoid executive conversations. These same women are often very successful at meeting deadlines, customer expectations and even team objectives.
What I have come to learn through research -- and have confirmed with many women across the country -- is that delivering great results does not guarantee advancement or additional opportunities. It does, however, mean that you are great at your current role. Sobering, I know. Especially because, like many working women, I thought doing an outstanding job was the primary measuring stick. Come to find out, a job well done is just the entry fee!
If you desire to expand your level of influence, you must make time to work on your career. Some of us do this naturally, but many of us question, "why is this needed if I deliver value in my current role?" Others ask, "how should I go about this, as I am already crunched for time and not even sure what to do?"
First, you must recognize why it is important to give attention to your desired career path even when you are delivering tremendous value today. I have learned first-hand that people perceive you (your brand) based on the value you are providing that moment. This can be great if your aspiration is to continue on this same path, but most women I meet aspire to increase their influence and impact. With these desires, a plan beyond the work is often necessary to pave a future path.
Now, the caveat. As a new professional, it is important to have a plan and work on that plan. But, in your initial years, experiencing new things, having a positive attitude and delivering great results will often get you noticed. As you gain more experience and desire to increase your impact within your organization or industry, you will need additional momentum since senior roles are often in high demand.
Like most good plans, taking the time to define your goals with specific details around why and how you will accomplish those goals are critical aspects to your professional growth. I would encourage you to pair up with a friend, or a career coach, to help crystallize your goals. These activities can act as a professional compass to help you articulate where you are now and where you would like to go next. Many women struggle and are not prepared when asked, "What do you want to do next?" and therefore miss an opportunity to articulate their desires quickly.
After three years of diligent research and related conversations, I have helped hundreds of other women in their professional journeys and I'm here to tell you, you can define your career path! There is rarely one activity, project or connection that makes your professional goals become realities. Instead, there are very specific actions you can take each day that can catapult you in your desired direction.
As you move through today, tomorrow and the rest of your career, remember, time is your biggest asset; use it to get you where you want to go.
— JJ DiGeronimo, President, Tech Savvy Women