(and really for anyone wanting to grow their career)
Women-In-Tech (WIT) group at Capital One is a great resource for women associates working in STEM fields. I regularly follow their slack channel to read about various accomplishments of my fellow women colleagues working across the organisation. Reading about them inspires me everyday. I have participated in few events hosted by this group and it has always been a joy to interact with these strong and inspiring leaders.
Attending this year’s WIT Professional Development Day was special for 2 reasons. First, because this was my first time attending this much-coveted, annual event. Second, because I’m at stage in my career where I’m like a wet sponge wanting to absorb everything around me to enhance my professional development. While listening to several thought-provoking panel discussions, I jotted down some important lessons that every young professional should keep in mind. Today I want to share those with you.
1. Become an advocate for yourself:
It is a crucial lesson for anybody who thinks “let my work speak for itself”. Doing great work is nice but talking about it is your responsibility. It is almost like marketing a product. No one would know how great your product is unless you have a solid plan to market it well and bring it to everyone’s notice. Recognition for the work done is as important as the work done.
2. No Risk, no reward:
Are you looking to move to the next step in your career? Do more. Do more that you already do! Ask for stretch projects. Take risks and own your mistakes if you fail at your first try. Earn trust of your seniors by taking on important responsibilities. Expand your skillsets though trainings, CDC resources and internship opportunities. If things don’t go the way you want them to, don’t lose heart. Keep grinding.
3. Find sponsors/mentors:
This was a major takeaway for me and something I plan to work on in 2021. Sponsor/mentors help to brainstorm ideas, provide coaching in necessary areas etc. A mentor is a great sounding board to have on your side throughout one’s career. A mentor can be someone you networked with at an event, a great leader in the organisation you admire, your manager, someone whose work you find inspiring etc. Seeking a mentor might not always be easy. But at Capital One, I’ve found everyone so approachable and eager to share lessons learnt in their professional lives.
4. Seek early and frequent feedback:
Feedback is a great mechanism to assess someone’s strengths and opportunities for growth. Receiving feedback often will help you to identify areas of improvement and work on them. Asking for feedback from your manager and co-workers will send them a message that you’re interested to grow and learn. It can be a great trust-building exercise. Receiving feedback can arguably be uncomfortable. But remember, growth comes when you step out of your comfort! Focus on EQ and positive intent to seek and receive feedback gracefully.
5. Communicate clearly:
Communication is a skill. Good communication is an art. But revel in the fact that it is something that can be honed with continuous practice. Communicate clearly and purposefully to let your audience know what to focus on and what not to. Help them dissect the important from the unimportant. I remember one of the panelists said — “Always share the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.” Such a simple but a powerful mantra!
I hope these lessons re-energized you to go after your goals! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.