Years ago during my postdoc, my supervisor and I were having a conversation about what are the integral factors to successfully making a career transition. She said something I will never forget. It was incredibly simple, but it felt so impactful and I would eventually use it in my own career life many times.
She said, “If you want to make a career change, you must DO something.” She was referring to the fact that sometimes we can get caught up in overanalyzing a situation, complaining about how bad things are at our current job, reading a ton of self-help books or articles, but we are not actually doing anything.
Now, her point was not to just do anything, it was to be strategic, but to get out of the contemplation phase as soon as possible because it can be paralyzing. Some of the strategic things you can do are start doing informational interviews, create a list of dream organizations you’d like to work for, dust off the resume and retool it, reach out to mentors for a cup of coffee and a chat. Do something that moves you one step forward.
My favorite piece of career advice that I am always pushing is be constantly building a strong professional community. For me, it is everything! If you have advocates in well-positioned places, transitioning is so much easier and quicker. The question I always get in return is ‘how do you do that?’ The response is layered, but the short answer is that it’s about really engaging people, caring about them and their careers, offering value to a relationship, being a connector.
It’s important to make sure that you have relationships with people with the power to hire. Research indicates that women tend to make more lateral contacts and have greater struggles building networks with leaders senior to them, which affects access. So, it is important to invest in being strategic about who is on your team and looking out for you.
What’s the best career advice that you have ever received? I am super curious and looking forward to hearing it.