I’m Just Starting My Career. Here’s What I’ve Learned About Women’s Success in the Workplace.
Our Women on Success series presents opinions, advice, and observations from women in a variety of positions. Some are just starting out, others are more advanced. The PreparedU research probed the issues they face. These writers are living those issues. In this first installment, Bentley undergraduate student Angela Scott '15 shares her thoughts on how women professionals just starting out can prepare for future career success.
One year from now, I will be graduating from Bentley University and heading out into the job market. As I look ahead, I’m thinking about what it will be like, what people will expect, and if I’m fully prepared for this next stage of my life.
To me, being prepared has different implications for men and women. As a woman who seeks a career in business, one thing that sticks out for me at this point is that so many women are hesitant to take measured professional risks. They’re afraid to speak out. They fear failure. And they feel a pressure from themselves, and from society, to be perfect — to avoid mistakes at all costs.
In fact, I believe it’s because of this pressure that women are better prepared for their first jobs than men are, as Bentley’s PreparedU career preparedness data results have shown.
My sense is that women are more able to perfect the skill-set requirements that come with entry-level positions because these first jobs tend to highlight the organizational, communicational and interpersonal skills that they tackle and master better than men.
Later on, with greater responsibility and a different skill set that requires decisiveness and risk management, there is more ambiguity, so women aren’t able to perfect these skills as well; in addition, many women are hesitant to take risks because of a fear of failure. The problem for women arises here, when taking measured business risks is essential to propelling them forward in their careers.
Being prepared is about being aware of these measured professional risks and not being afraid to tackle them head on. I’ve learned this thanks to Bentley’s Center for Women and Business (CWB), which has mentored me, helped me become more confident in my abilities, and nurtured my curiosity about new opportunities.
The CWB has paired me with an authentic, confident and professional mentor who has helped me see that women, like men, must go through success and failure in their careers. She’s also shown me that — obviously — no woman professional can be perfect.
As I get ready for my first job, I realize that the company I’ll join will have to truly value the inclusion and engagement of women. And, as I make the rounds of job interviews, I’ll also be looking for authentic leadership in the workplace. I want to work with self-aware people who recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, and who want to continuously improve. Finally, I know that I want to be in a company that encourages me to take measured risks and put my best self forward.
With my senior year almost here, I’ve been thinking about what every young female business student must do to prepare herself for the career that awaits her. Here are three essentials, in my opinion:
- Do Your Homework. Keep up-to-date on current events, emerging leaders and new policies/regulations in your industry. It’s so important to keep learning about the environment and industry you want to enter.
- Say Yes to Everything. Any opportunity that comes your way is a learning experience, whether it’s positive or negative. Say yes, and take on as many things as you can, because the more you put yourself out there, the more you learn about your talents and where you can fit in and contribute to your piece of the world.
- Keep Looking Ahead. Always think about your next move, and how that’s going to contribute to your long-term goals. Keep setting goals for yourself, and keep reaching them. Every victory, no matter how small, will keep you on your path to success.
The bottom line for me is that this last stage of pre-professional preparation is all about staying true to myself.
The closer I get to leaving Bentley and entering the world of work, the more I realize the importance of the interpersonal, sociological and psychological aspects of company life.
I attend a wonderful university, but it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that book learning is just part of the preparedness equation.
Angela Scott '15 is a Management major at Bentley.
Photo credit: Ethan Blouin