To be honest a few weeks leading up to my recent birthday I was battling a downward spiral and operating in a fog. I just was not content with how my savings looked and that I hadn’t made much headway tackling my student loan debt. In addition to this I was in whirlwind about what my next career step would be. In my Cloudy Career Days post I addressed how I began to work through this. It helped that I took some time to really reflect on my progress throughout my 20’s and not to mention a trip to Jamaica to ring in my 30th birthday. The people I encountered in Jamaica were so genuine and laid back. They showed me how impatient I am and that I am always operating at 200 mph. The trip really put into perspective I have so many reasons to be grateful to enter this new decade of life. Here a few I wanted share:
1) Financial Responsibility: My 20’s were pretty rocky from a financial perspective. I did not get serious about my finances until my late 20’s. I got help and started mapping out everything from monthly expenses along with all the debt I had. I went on Dave Ramsey’s website to get the Monthly Budget Template so that I can plan my budget and track what I spent.
2) There is no limit on my career trajectory: I really take the quote “The world is your oyster” to heart. I solely believe if something is put on your heart time and time again then you will be given the tools to do it. My mentor/sponsor has really opened my eyes lately that I can really take my career to new heights. That is why it is important to continue to build a strong network and have mentors along with sponsors in your circle.
3) Uncovering and exercising my passion: Around this time last year my past supervisor told me that I had a gift for teaching and I laughed at him. He then went on and gave me contact information for the Program Administrator of the Pharmacy Technician program at Richland College. I went ahead and scheduled a meeting and it ended being great. I ended up quickly developing a great working relationship with the Program Administrator. Fast forward I am now currently teaching three Pharmacy Technician courses and I have developed a passion for it. Who would’ve thought? Teaching and interacting with my students is what drives me. Now I am working to peel back additional layers to my passion to see how I can make additional contributions.
4) I stay in my lane and run my own race: You will not win comparing your life to others. It took awhile for this to sink in. With advancements in social media it’s hard not to. To be brutally honest I have my moments, but then I think about the big picture and goals I have to accomplish. I used to get bent out of shape when I could not attend trips and physically be there when major occurrences that happened in my friends’ lives. At the end of the day they understand why I could not physically be there and no love was lost.
Some things I’m taking from my 20’s are to not get down on myself and move on. Also, to make sure I take care of myself and breathe because it’s not the end of the world.
Photo Credit: Image One
These past few weeks I have found myself in a whirlwind. Trying to live my truth and walk in my purpose that is outlined for me. It’s been a whole lot of trying to put the puzzle pieces together and I don’t knows coming out of my mouth. It can suck you in quick and potentially lead to a downward spiral. However, there are ways to go down this exploratory path in a healthy manner and attempt to figure things out.
Make sure that you are taking care of your body by exercising and getting proper rest. It will help improve your mood and keep you energized. When you feel like you are operating in a career fog exercise and proper rest will help out tremendously.
Step back and explore what excites you and gets you going. Examine what gets you up in the morning and on your way. Ask yourself: What is something that I have always wanted to do career wise?
Servicing my students serves as my motivation each day. So, I am now taking that information and expanding on how my love for teaching can be leveraged in my current organization and where there is a need.
Brainstorm with your mentor and then activate your sponsors. Utilize your mentor to bounce off ideas, share your thoughts and seek sound advice from. From there activate your sponsor(s) so they can begin to advocate on your behalf in order to connect you with key individuals. A sponsor is normally several levels above the middle management level and can help drive an individual’s rate of advancement.
In some cases your mentor and sponsor can be the same person. For instance, you can go to dinner with them to identify the challenge and then start brainstorming. Once a focal point has been reached and they have the proper contacts then sponsorship can take place to advocate on your behalf.
Recognize that your career trajectory is not going to be linear. There will be constant evolution and change occurring throughout your career. Within industries and organizations that are constantly looking to be innovative career paths will not be straight forward.
Going through a phase like this is tough, but trusting the process has to occur. Honing in on your network to identify your strengths and talents that are not visible to you can help as well. What won’t help is going out making brash decisions such as applying for any role or quitting just to get out the situation. Making brash decisions is only running from the problem. Getting out of cloudy career days can happen with some due diligence and patience.
Photo Credit: Photo One
ClosetRunway graciously provided this awesome advice below as to how women can spice it up in the workplace, but still remain professional for the fall season.
When you think of the workplace, fashion generally will not come to mind. At work you focus on statistics, deadlines, quotas, and the bottom line…so how you look may fall by the wayside. However, I am under the belief that a person’s appearance can greatly help or hinder that perception in the workplace. A wise man once said, “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.” In my opinion, one well-tailored suit jacket, simple black dress, or red pump can take you places. Gone are the days of boring prints and shoulder pads that make you look like the long-lost linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.
Pantone, the experts on the perfect color palette listed above, has released their fashion color report for Fall 2013. Every color mentioned can be incorporated into your work wardrobe in a professional yet awe-inspiring way. You are able to spice up your wardrobe by adding pops of color with traditional prints…think of an emerald blouse with a houndstooth cape and a pencil skirt. Bring that grey suit out of the back of the closet and pair with linden green jewelry or add those samba colored pumps with your tweed pants. The options are endless for women that want to spice up your wardrobe and still make that great impression to the Vice President of the company. This and many other looks can be found at your local boutiques, malls, and consignment stores. To find the looks that I have created below on a budget, I have listed stores that are not only budget friendly but show a wide array of classy and sassy fall looks for the office:
- H & M: www.hm.com/us/
- Banana Republic: bananarepublic.gap.com
- The Limited: the limited.com
- Macy’s: www.macys.com
The key is to buy individual pieces from these stores that can be infused in your existing wardrobe. You can definitely show your personality in the workplace…one ensemble at a time.
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I was able to be sponsored by the Black Colleague Resource Group within my current organization to attend the 35th Annual National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference in Houston, TX. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of leadership development initiatives and an entrepreneurial spirit associated with the conference from September 12th- 14th.
Panelists within The Global Game Changers: Energizing the Next Generation panel discussion gave away some great career tips:
1) You position yourself better to get into a senior management role within your organization if you have global experience. It is encouraged to put a bid in to travel internationally within your respective organization and also even plan vacations outside of the country. Absorbing and experiencing other cultures is a valuable experience. It can help expand your mind and allow creation for innovative ideas.
2) When deciding if you should take calculated risks determine the worst case scenario and if you can live with it then take the risk!
The Take the Stage General Session on Friday September 13th was by far my favorite session and really drove home a vital point regarding career advancement:
3) You should not operate in fear if you are looking to advance in your career! Your ability and fearlessness to get up in front of folks and speak will help you climb the corporate ladder. Panelist Jonathan Sprinkles mentioned, “You can’t have fear especially when doors are being opened for you. You have to be fearless.”
Serving as an educator and individual contributor in the healthcare field I was interested to hear what Humana was going to cover in their Healthcare session. It was discussed that a lot individuals do not rely on primary care physicians, but instead go to the emergency rooms for health issues. A study by Rand Corporation denoted the following:
- "Use of hospital emergency departments is growing faster than the use of other parts of the American medical system," said Dr. Art Kellermann, the study's senior author and a senior researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
- Researchers found that most people who seek care in an emergency department do so because they perceive no viable alternative, not because it was convenient.
- The study also found that emergency departments increasingly support primary care providers by performing complex diagnostic workups that cannot be done in physician offices. In addition, emergency departments supplement primary care providers by handling overflow, after-hours cases and weekend demand for medical care.
This was my first time attending a professional conference that is applicable to my education and outlined career growth pathway. It was great being around like-minded, business savvy individuals. The conference was very inspiring and reminded me that I can achieve the professional goals that I put my mind to. It also refueled my entrepreneurial spirit which is critical to allow you to take control of your career and professional growth. I plan to attend the Leadership Institute component of the conference next year in Atlanta, Georgia.
I was recently speaking with a colleague about maybe doing another team teach in the fall for a course we were already collaborating on. Unfortunately, since all the classrooms were booked Monday – Thursday we would have to teach on the weekend. I told her that I needed to decline because I need my weekends. Her response was, “I definitely won’t be able to do it on the weekends either and plus you don’t have any kids like I do.” What is that supposed to mean?
I am currently riding 90 miles per hour out of my comfort zone and it’s not slowing down to cruise control anytime soon. This is prime season for me to take calculated risks in my career like so many other women I know. It’s a great opportunity to do so now in case I have any shortcomings during the ride since I need to only worry about myself and just focus on picking up the pieces.
Don’t apologize that your life took a more career-oriented direction. After all the goal is to provide the best environment for your children to be raised in and honestly in my mind I am currently not there yet, but I’m close. It is okay to strive to reach a certain level of financial stability before having to start answering to and/or be responsible for another human being and there is nothing wrong with this approach. It makes life a little easier.
Always remember that your path is simply your path and the lane you choose to follow. There is nothing wrong with going hard in your career path and then focusing on having children later. There will be times when you may feel insecure about the path you are traveling, but that is why having a giving spirit and support system is critical. At one point I was feeling insecure about the career oriented path that I am traveling because during my introduction in meetings I would only talk about myself and accomplishments. My other colleagues would speak about their kids, spouses, dogs etc. I had to quickly get over that and remind myself that there is nothing wrong with my current focus and this is the prime opportunity to take advantage and shine.
Image Credit: Photo One
Please check out my guest post on Under30CEO.com covering 6 Tips to Advance Your Career! http://under30ceo.com/6-tips-to-advance-your-career/
Image Credit: www.ise.ufl.edu
I was able to embark in great conversation with a Subject Matter Expert in career advancement recently. During that conversation he shared some great gems that are useful for the changing times in Corporate America. Individuals have to now be innovative with their approach to excel in their career and be able to bring value to the company. Below I have listed the awesome career advancement tips:
1) Have your act together. If you are currently performing at the “Meets Expectations” level or below then chances are you need to step it up in order to even consider getting promoted. What could potentially put you over the Meets Expectations level is accepting a stretch assignment that needs to be completed within your department and in return successfully completing it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask management for additional projects and tasks. For instance, I plan on working with my manager so that I can get assigned to an audit that I am able to lead even though that is a senior level responsibility.
2) Stay relevant with the industry that you are in. To do this it’s required to READ, READ and READ!!!!!!!! It’s important to be abreast of what is going on within the industry in order to be aware of how things may affect the business and your role.
3) Understand the business you are a part of. So many roles within companies require you to touch and work with other areas of the business. It’s vital to know about all these areas so that you are able to be knowledgeable and have the ability to formulate a sound opinion if needed.
4) Always be in networking mode. A great rule of thumb was shared: “If you are more than five connections away from your next opportunity then you have more networking to do.”
5) Do the research. For the next level that you are advancing to make sure you have the necessary skills, experience and sometimes even the certification required. For instance, within the auditing field I work in it is necessary for me to obtain a Certified Information Systems Auditor Certification. Also, job shadowing can serve as a great research mechanism and create the opportunity to witness first hand a little of what you should expect within the role.
6) Share your relevant career goals. If you are looking to advance within your career then career goals have to be vocalized to your management team. Work with them to critique already established goals and to also ensure they are in alignment with the business.
From the conversation that took place it allowed me to bring full circle what is required in order to have successful career advancement. To have success in any field it is imperative to be a life-long learner and always stay ready for the next opportunity that may come your way. It is equally important to have the mind frame of a careerpreneur when it comes to successful career advancement. A careerpreneur establishes and maintains their career with an entrepreneurial mindset. This type of individual creates value which can be done by understanding the business and knowing the industry they work in. Along, with holding themselves accountable for the success or failure of their career, having a career plan and adapting to change. One thing that is constant in the workplace is change and if you are not willing to change and embrace it then you will slow down the progressiveness of the business and inhibit growth within yourself. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines advancement as progression to a higher stage of development. In order to go far in your career it is imperative to do the work, stay positive and keep an open mind to reach new heights.
I was recently able to meet up with a good friend that I hadn’t seen in years, but stayed in touch with. We caught each other up on the personal projects we are working on and offered support to one another. I waited a moment afterwards and turned to express to him, “I am struggling right now with the fact that I haven’t progressed as far as I wanted to with tackling my student loan debt. It’s like a cloud hanging over my head. I know some argue it as being good debt, but I want it gone. I constantly beat myself up over this.” He sternly responded, “Rashida listen to me, you are focusing on the wrong thing. Focus your energy on your career and projects you have in place that will eventually create the means for you to put a major dent in the student loans.” I then sat back and the light bulb went off. That’s all I needed to hear and it was so simple. I truly thank him for his support and creating that light bulb moment.
As you begin to do the work, attest your goals and career aspirations supporters will emerge. Embrace them whether it’s two or twenty. Also, work on building support. If you are looking to write then surround yourself with similar writers. Don’t approach the building phase with your hand out, but instead see how you can be of service. Offer to look over some ones work before they submit it to be published or organize a writing session where individuals can meet to work on their various writing projects.
Having accountability partners within your support system that are in alignment with outlined goals is critical. These individuals can provide encouragement and motivation to keep you going. For instance, I teamed up with my coworker to do a fitness challenge since we both have fitness goals we want to accomplish. We both purchased a workout DVD and encourage each other to complete the DVD at least four times a week for 30 days. We hold each other accountable and it has been paying off as we have both noticed results.
Focusing energy on the right things, bringing in and exuding positive energy is a recipe that will allow you to accomplish goals and gain supporters. You may be surprised where your support comes from and as long as it is positive then embrace it. Remember, even though you have goals you are working on you should always have a helpful and giving spirit.
Summer is officially under way and it’s important to make sure you are able to make the transition and dress appropriate in the workplace. For pants I normally stick to lighter colored slacks and sometimes khakis. Also, you can never go wrong with an appropriate in length pencil skirt. For tops I do cute short sleeve button ups and blouses. It’s always cold at my job so I keep a nice cardigan or wrap handy.
I would consider myself a thrifty shopper and I am always looking for deals. Gap Outlet store near me always allows me to rack up on slacks and khakis. I also find some brand new slacks or khakis in the Goodwill. If you want to venture off to the mall then The Limited has reasonably priced work place attire. H&M carries some cute tops, blazers and skirts that I pick up as well.
Listed below are some great summer workplace looks:
Source for photo images: