I am a clinical social worker with enough acronyms behind my name to make a toddler feel like he is singing the alphabet song. I was recently invited to take part in a conversation titled “Managing Your Career In Your 20s And Beyond.” The organizer sent me my bio and asked me if I had any updates to add. I read through it, thinking “Damn, I look great on paper.” Then I sent her this post “Knowing your profession- pages of a career Journal” and told her that it would be my PowerPoint. I want young people to know experts are not born. We are groomed and go through trials and tribulations. The day of the panel I arrived and I gave this speech.
“Great, so you want to know what I know about managing life in your 20’s. It’s the decade of the grind, finding yourself, thinking about your dreams, and getting a clear sense of self- who you are what you want. Develop your brand your signature by asking yourself what do I want to be known for? Establish your network and know they do not have to look like you. Condoleezza Rice once said ‘You don’t have to have mentors who look like you. Had I been waiting for a black, female Soviet specialist mentor, I would still be waiting. Most of my mentors have been old white men, because they were the ones who dominated my field.’ I agree, if I waited for a woman to come along who looked like me I would still be waiting. Education does not have a color. You should be looking for a mentor in somebody who helps you in a certain aspect of your life and grooms you. Never stop learning. Once a month pick up a magazine or a newspaper that is out of your zone and read it and learn something new. I personally have come to realize that I love Entrepreneur magazine, and it has helped me become a better business woman. Attend workshops, and if you can’t afford them, volunteer. You never know who you might meet behind the scenes. Stand up to sexists, and go in prepared to face some discrimination. I will say being aware of challenges won’t make ignorance sting less, but once you can identify it you can be more adapted to deal with them. Build your nerve. The worst thing that can happen is rejection, and rejection is often just a detour to something else. Don’t fear a fight, share your point of view even if it’s different from everyone else’s. My grandmother had a powerful saying, ‘A closed mouth don’t get fed, honey.’ Listen to your inner voice and your gut, and remember every professional milestone should be adding tools to your tool box. Most importantly, save money. Live below your means so when a great opportunity comes along you won’t be burdened or stopped by the financial aspect.”