Hi, I am Nataly and I am the co-founder of Work It, Mom!
I write the daily Work It, Mom! Blog where I talk about issues affecting working moms, goings on in our Work It, Mom! community, new site features, updates,and contests. I also share my own juggle between work and family and love to see members jump in with comments. Come and visit often!
Nataly's profile on Work It, Mom!
The other day I got an email from a woman who recently graduated from my alma mater. She found my contact info through the alumni database and was asking if I could spend a few minutes talking with her about my career path. Of course I said yes — yes, I want to help, but who doesn’t like to feel like Miss Smarty Pants for a while?
We’d scheduled a call and I started thinking about things I wanted to make sure to tell her. Don’t go into venture capital before having some operating experience. Consulting is a great way to learn how to process information quickly and to become a whiz with financial spreadsheets, but don’t stay for too long. If you’re thinking of joining a start-up do your homework on the team (they should be smart, hardworking, and fun to spend 18 hours a day with) and the financial plan for the company.
And then I started to think about all the things I wanted to make sure to NOT tell her, the cliche career advice I often got when I graduated from college, or truly bad career advice, that I also got and in most cases didn’t realise was bad until years later. I thought I’d share some of it with you and see what you think — is it bad advice and what other horrible career advice have you received?
1. As a woman, you will have to work harder than guys to get the same recognition at work.
Couldn’t be more wrong. Women don’t get enough recognition — as raises or promotions — at work not because we don’t work hard enough but because we don’t ask enough, promote ourselves enough, and negotiate well enough. It took me a LONG time to understand this and in the process I put in more than my share of 18-hour days working my butt off, definitely harder than the guys. The raises and promotions didn’t come just because of my hard work. Sure, I was recognized for it and did receive some raises, but in more than one case I know I was making less than men who did the same work. The only way I overcame this was to actually go in, show my boss everything I was doing, and demand — yes, demand — that I be paid more.
2. Don’t job hop — it shows that you can’t decide on a career and are not dedicated.
This is decent advice but only in the later stages of your career. When you’re just out of college (which is when someone said this to me) I think it’s essential to job hop, to figure out what you’re truly interested in, what you can do for many hours a day without being miserable. Actually, I think you should job hop at any point in your career if you are not satisfied with what you’re doing. But being satisfied means different things to different people at different times in their life — sometimes you need to stick it out at a job you hate because you need the money or the experience for that next great gig and at other times you can deal with low pay and annoying colleagues because you’re so passionate about what you’re doing.
3. Do what you love and money will follow.
I’m sorry but I truly hate this piece of advice, even if it works out for some people. There are many jobs out there which you can love with all your might but that don’t pay as well as you might need or want. A friend of mine is a teacher. She absolutely loves what she does, daily frustrations, misbehaving students, and too much administrative crap notwithstanding. But she complains all the time about how little money teachers make and how she can’t afford to buy her own place in the area where she teaches. This is just one example, there are many, many more.
For example, I love to write. I don’t know why, English isn’t even my first language, but perhaps because I had to fight so hard to get good at it I love to express myself in it. But I know — because I’ve written a book and know many awesome freelance writers a 10000 times more talented than me who constantly struggle financially — that if I chose to be a writer full-time money (or enough money for our family, my being a breadwinner mom and all) would certainly not follow.
I don’t believe in being miserable at work — if you are, you need to find a way to make a change. But I also believe in the idea that for 99% of us without trust funds, any choice of a career involves some consideration of what compensation (which does not always mean monetary, and in the case of my teacher friend, includes great benefits) comes with it.
OK, your turn: Share your least favorite piece of career advice in the comments.
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