Making that next big step in your career can be intimidating. What can be even harder is feeling uncertain of what your next steps should be. Many talented professionals can get stuck in a rut and are not sure how to launch into unknown waters. Recently, 1Strategy held Women-in-Tech events in Seattle and Utah. We were fortunate to have heard insightful and inspiring presentations from Megan O’Neil (Solutions Architect, Slalom Consulting), Carly Wild (Account Manager at Amazon Web Services), and Darci Chowen (Account Manager at Amazon Web Services) who offered many helpful best practices related to working in cloud security, mentoring, networking, and how to find the perfect job. Although these tips were geared toward a female audience in connection with our Women-in-Tech events, both men and women can benefit from these useful suggestions. Don’t worry if you were unable to catch the events, we have distilled these practical presentations down into Five Powerful Tips for Boosting your Tech Career:
Seek a Good Mentor, Be a Good Mentee
Finding the right mentor can make a world of difference. In order to find a mentor that fits your needs, make sure to consider your long-term goals. While it is important to focus on the present, it is crucial for you to connect your present actions with long-term goals. Before selecting a mentor, you will want to ask yourself: Where do I want to end up? What direction do I want my career to take? What do I value? Once you have determined what your short and long-term goals are, be on the lookout for someone whom you trust and look up to. Search for individuals who have reached the destinations you are aspiring for.
For starters, it’s important to showcase some initiative by asking the individual to be your mentor. One major benefit of a mentoring relationship is the ability to learn from someone else’s triumphs and failures. Please remember that it is a good idea to find a mentor who has similar goals, ideals, and is someone you get along with. Seek council from someone who can offer honest and sound advice.
Remember that a mentoring relationship is a two-way street. Each mentee is solely responsible for the direction of his or her career. It is not the job of the mentor to drag the mentee along; be the captain of your career. Carly Wild shared the following advice, “If you have a mentor, come in prepared with a list of questions or topics before every meeting.”
Know How to Find Your Dream Job
Sometimes hunting for the right job can seem as mystifying as searching within the Bermuda Triangle. At the Utah Women-in-Tech event Darci Chowen shared some insightful advice that can apply to individuals in the field, or those entering or returning to the field, when she said, “Listen to your intuition” and “Pay attention to what motivates you.” She also emphasized the importance of finding a work place that has a good company culture, a healthy work life balance, equal pay consideration, and ultimately is a safe environment.
Here are some additional helpful hints for seeking the perfect job for you:
- Become a networking guru. This can be in person or on networking sites such as LinkedIn.
- Work to cultivate good relationships with current and past coworkers.
- Be someone that can be trusted to get the job done! Excelling in your current position can lead to other doors being opened in the future.
- Carly Wild advises to be a “yes person.” Be willing to work hard and learn new skills.
Recognize that the Process is its Own Reward
While speaking on CloudSecurity, Megan O’Neil shared the following quote from Amelia Earhart, the first woman in flight, “You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” Have you ever thought that the process you are currently engaged in is part of your reward? Focus on doing your work well and become an important contributor. Work to foster an inclusive community where both men and women can work together in unity.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Being able to discuss opposing opinions in a professional manner demonstrates your high level of professionalism, confidence, and knowledge. Whether it is being able to negotiate your salary when being hired or standing up when a business decision does not sit well with you, having the ability to state your opinion shows your commitment to holding yourself, your coworkers, and your organization to the highest standards. If necessary, don’t be afraid to go to human resources if you feel harassed or uncomfortable. One of Amazon’s leadership principles states, “Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit: Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting.” Be willing to be an advocate for yourself and for the company.
Understand Competition vs. Comparison
Let’s be honest, if business had a middle name it would probably be competition. With that said, your middle name should not be comparison. Often times, when working for companies where competition is a large component of day-to-day work, it can be easy to slip into comparing yourself to those around you. Doing so can impede not only your personal and professional growth, but can lead to dissatisfaction with your current circumstances. Instead of comparing yourself to others, work on improving and focus your energy and effort on honing your own craft and becoming more skilled.
More than anything, know that in all of these efforts you are working to build a brand—not just any brand, but your personal brand. Brick by brick you are establishing what you are known for. How you interact with people around you, the confidence with which you function, and the way you make decisions all play a significant role in the development of your brand. Your brand has its own story and you are the sole proprietor of that brand. You choose how it develops starting today.