ICYMI: Rising Star Career Development PanelAnna Lewis
A few months ago I attended a Career Development panel hosted by KC/IABC’s Rising Stars group. The session involved a panel discussion by three local communicators with varying experiences and backgrounds.
The setting was very intimate, which allowed for candid conversation about real life challenges people often face throughout their careers. In this post, I will cover a few of the main takeaways from the discussion.
Overall, attendees learned that there will be several points in your career where you will have to make unprecedented decisions. Not everyone’s path is the same, but more often than not, there has been someone somewhere who has “been there, done that.” Here are a few scenarios one may encounter on his or her journey.
1. You have been in the working world for a few years and you are at point of wanting to make a change.
You may not necessarily want to switch companies or roles completely, but you feel you are getting stagnate and there is an itch to mix it up.
Panelist Carolyn Sobczyk, Account Executive at Fleishman Hillard, said you should “expand your horizons and find the gaps in your resume and fill those spaces.” She stresses that one shouldn’t be a Jack-of-all-Trades, but that being well rounded is a good thing.
Sometimes making the jump to try new things requires a helpful boost from others.
Another panelist, Michelle Keller, who is in Corporate Communications & Community Relations at Swope Health Services, said you must build your mentors. You can do this by keeping in touch with former supervisors and keep close to the people who are in the job you want.
“Ask people to go out to lunch; everyone has a lunch hour,” said Michelle. Carolyn agrees, “it may be scary to ask for one-on-one time to talk with a professional, but you may end up flattering them. It is a valuable experience.”
But probably the most important thing to understand when seeking out a mentor is that it the relationship with your mentor should be organic, said Carolyn.
Not every movement within a company is up the ladder. Movement can sometimes occur laterally across the organization. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. If anything, you are becoming a more versatile professional.
“The thing with lateral movement is that you should make sure you get something out of it – money or fulfillment. Your career is like a game of chess; always know your next move,” said Michelle.
2. Graduate school has been on your mind, but when is the right time to go back to school, and what field should you study?
“I got an MBA and it helps me on the business level. I can speak the executive language, which helps me put together presentations. And having that communications background only enhances your ability to learn business,” said Jill Black, Marketing Communications Manager at HNTB.
“I would say to wait 3-5 years before going back to school. You can get real world experience that you can’t get being in a classroom,” said Michelle Keller.
3. It is time to talk salary. How do you know you are making the right amount of money for the work you are doing?
If you are deciding on a job opportunity, and the salary is something you can live on and the work is something you can grow – take it, said Michelle.
Jill said it is important to ask about growth potential up front so you can see what you can do to get ahead.
Most importantly, keep track of your successes.
“Keep a ‘High Five’ file where you store individual successes within the company – things like thank you notes and project success,” said Michelle.
You never know when you may have to prove your work to get that salary increase. Another good tip is to see what other people in your positions are making in your area. Search online for “salaries + [your job title]” – or something equivalent – and see what the average salary is for that position.
End the end, Michelle said, “every job will teach you something; it may not be the lesson you want to learn, but it will teach you something.”
You are in control of your destiny, prepare for it!