Throughout my career, I have been through transitions that have taught me many valuable lessons. After going through so many changes, I now accept that it is part of my professional journey that I cannot avoid if I want to grow.
In this blog post, I will share some of the lessons I have learned about career transitions and ways I have worked through them.
What are Career transitions?
There are numerous types of career transitions that involve unanticipated or even undesired shifts in an individual’s career path. In addition, the term career transition may refer to the process by which an individual changes from one job to another within the same job family; and it may also refer to a more dramatic career change from one occupational category to an entirely different one. Finally, a career transition takes place when an employee merely shifts to a new position within the same company or organizational structure.
Most of the career transitions I have been through happened without me planning them. Although transitions were not my primary goal, they came through actions I took to grow my career. My career development is something I am very intentional about, and I have learned to appreciate the positive side effects.
The top career transitions I have been through include:
5 Lessons I learned about reinventing yourself in your Career
Lesson #1: You don't have to do the same thing for life
Especially when I lived in Germany, it was quite common to see people who have had the same job or worked for the same company for close to 20 years. Somehow, I could not imagine being in the same company for that long. I like the stability that being in the same company offers you. However, I also wanted to enjoy the comfort of knowing your company and environment. Moving to the US, especially here in Silicon Valley, people typically spend less than two years in one role. I have learned the benefits of working in different roles and companies throughout of your career.
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Lesson #2: Change in your career is good - embrace it
Embracing change is definitely something I am learning every day. Before the transitions, I typically feared the unknown and the upcoming changes to my life. Reflecting on my career, I have seen that the changes and transitions that I have been through have turned out good even when they were accidental and not planned.
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Lesson #3: You need to keep learning
Throughout our careers, it is crucial to learn new skills and gather knowledge. When I prepare for transitions, I make sure I equip myself with a strong foundation for what is about to come. Over time as I learn more about my new role, I take trainings and read more about the areas where I have knowledge gaps. Continuous learning has helped make my transitions more successful.
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Lesson #4: Be open to explore different jobs and roles
Sometimes new roles or jobs don't look perfect initially, or you may feel like you're not ready. In my experience, the most significant growth I have seen in my career has come from the roles I did not feel totally prepared for. I turned down one particular position multiple times, and when I accepted it, I was pleasantly shocked by the great results.
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Lesson #5: Have a career plan
Being intentional about your career growth is crucial. There are some career changes that you can plan and prepare for. Especially if you are planning to change jobs, you have the opportunity to start planning the steps you want to take to achieve your career goals. I have learned to always plan and prepare for the next step in my career.
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Call to Action
In a few days, I'll be celebrating my first anniversary at my new job. Marking this significant point on my journey, got me thinking about my experiences in the last year and other significant career milestones.
In this blog post, I will share some of my most memorable career milestones and the lessons I learned along the way. Also, check out my previous post titled "Celebrate your professional achievements" to learn five simple ways you can start celebrating your accomplishments.
We are accustomed to celebrating some typical milestones such as birthdays and landmark anniversaries. In my experience, we do not spend enough time thinking about the crucial points in our careers.
Let me take you on a journey of some of my memorable career milestones:
My first paid part-time job
Although it was over 18 years ago, I can still remember the first twenty euros I made. The excitement of being able to do something I enjoyed, support someone, and get paid was immeasurable. This experience kicked off my career and taught me some many valuable lessons.
Getting my first Internship
Throughout my time at University, I wanted to go into the industry and take a job that let me see how I could use the skills I had learned. And in summer 2009, I had the great opportunity for my first internship at a Bank in Luxembourg. This was my first practical introduction to project management.
Starting first full-time job
I can still remember when I interviewed for jobs after I finished my first degree. And after a few months, I received my first offer for my full-time job as a Project Manager in a Digital Agency. Thinking back, I did not know what I was getting into. I learned a lot of excellent skills in the years that followed.
Getting my first big promotion
Doing great work was a priority for me. After a few years of being a great contributor to the company, I got my first promotion. I now appreciate the fact that back then putting in great work was what got me a promotion. It definitely gets more complicated as you progress in your career.
Moving to work in a new country
When we move to a new country, we typically focus more on settling in from a personal life perspective. I had a unique situation that I started working in the US only two days after I moved here. I remember the first day I walked into my new project assignment in a new country. It marked the start of the most substantial growth I have experienced in my career.
Working on projects with much responsibility
A few years ago, I was asked to lead a Global Project Management Office. Initially, I rejected the offer because I felt I was not ready, and I did not want to travel for work. Thankfully, they offered me the job about two months later, and I took it. This move in my career set me up for the more significant opportunities and took me to places I would never have been if I did not take the leap.
Working at a new company
After working at my last company for almost eights years, I made the transition to a new company. Thinking back to my first day at the new job, I was very excited to be starting a new phase of my career journey. And now, it's been a year already, and I'm in my second role, I am looking forward to seeing where my journey goes next.
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Do you know how to tell a compelling story about your Career?
Over the past months, I have been interviewing for a new role at my company. Going through the process, I had the opportunity to tell my Career story to a new set of people I networked or interviewed with. Sharing my story has been something I had struggled with in the past but have been learning to do over the past two years since I launched my blog.
In this post, we will explore the benefits of telling your career story, some aspects you can include to make it a compelling story and five steps to create your own career story today.
Why is it important to have and share your Career story?
What can you include in your Career story?
Some components of a great career story are
How to prepare yourself to tell your story
Step 1: Take stock of your career
Take time to reflect on your career. Think about some of the accomplishments you have had, situations where you overcame challenges, skills you gathered, and your unique selling points. This activity may take a while and feel painful. However, the reward will be worth it.
MC's Tip: Do some research and see how other people tell their career stories.
Step 2: Write it down
Writing down your career story brings it to life. Remember, at this point, it is more important to write down your first thoughts. Your story will be refined and tweaked in the next steps. The best stories are honest and authentic.
MC's Tip: Get your raw thoughts on paper. Don't edit yourself.
Step 3: Gather feedback
As part of the process of perfecting your story, it's crucial to test it by sharing with people around you. Select a few people who know you very well and others who know some of your work to get their feedback.
MC's Tip: Practicing with real people will give you additional data points to make your story better.
Step 4: Share it with everyone
A story gets better as you share it with more people. Be prepared to share your story at any time with people you meet at networking events, interviews, mentors, or sponsors. When people hear a compelling story, they never forget it.
MC's Tip: Take every opportunity you get to share your story.
Step 5: Tweak and update
As you share your story, you will recognize areas that people find exciting and what you can improve. Take the time to evaluate the quality of your story and make it better. Success is when you can convey the aspects of your story that you want to share, and people are resonating with your story.
MC's Tip: Continuously craft and improve your story. It's an ongoing process.
Call to Action
What have been some highlights in your career? Highlight your accomplishments.
What are some unique aspects of your career so far? Highlight your unique selling points.
How often do you make time to reflect on your career?
Navigating our careers and being successful requires action on our part. Reflecting is an easy way for you to gather some insights on what you want to start, continue or stop doing to get to the next career level.
In this post we will reflect on your career so far, start planning for the future and discover a tool to help you build the career you want. This is one of the posts where you would have to take notes to get the most value.
Why is it important to reflect on your career?
The benefits of making time for reflection include:
What aspects of your career have you found most rewarding and why?
Think about your fondest work memories. Reflect on what made those experiences so special and great. Reflect on the work assignments that brought you joy.
What keeps you excited about your field of work?
Reminding yourself of the reason you decided to take the career path you are on, is something you should do more often. It is easy to forget the passion you once had.
What are your career-related fears?
Reflecting on what has been holding you back from making those bold career moves is very important. Especially if you would like to see different results and achieve your career goals, knowing your fears allows you to address them.
How do you prioritize your career growth/development?
The concept of owning your career development is one that I talk about frequently. Making a conscious effort and investing in your career development should be a priority for you. Discover more practical tips in my previous blog post "Own your career development".
Who influenced you in your career?
Surrounding yourself with great peers, mentors and sponsors is essential to build a great career. Think back on the people that have played a small or large role in your career.
What's the best career advice you ever received and how has it changed your career outlook?
Think back on some of the great things you heard along the way that helped in your career. It could come from people, books, trainings or other sources. Write it down and share with others.
What are your greatest professional goals or objectives?
Knowing what you want to achieve in your career will play a huge role in your satisfaction and help you plan for the career future you want. Having a career plan will help you on your journey.
Tools in your Toolkit - Create your Career Journal
To make it easier to reflect on your career moving forward, start writing things down as you go. A few years ago I started writing things down mainly in preparation for conversations with my managers to ensure I did not miss any important details about my work. Recently, I made a slight change and started my weekly career journal. It may sound like as big task, but it is not. I dedicate about an hour every Thursday evening or Friday morning to document what I worked on, my highlights and lowlights from the week. This consistent practice helps me reflect on the week, celebrate my achievements, identify things I want to change and plan for the next week.
I recently transitioned to a new job. At the start of my job search, it was important to me that I had better experiences than in my previous job. At this stage I had a mixed portfolio of achievements and failures. I had learned lessons on what I wanted to do more of and what I did not want to do.
Reflecting on my career provided clarity in the following ways:
Call to Action
What are the three biggest lessons you have learned in your career so far? Learn from your past experiences.
What are you working towards this year? Identify your career goals and plan action.
"Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."- Francis of Assisi
After the long holidays, we are all now back to work. Some of us are having a great time, while others are not happy to wake up and go to work every day. With the amount of time we spend at work, I firmly believe that we need to enjoy work more. Thinking beyond your day to day job and more about finding fulfillment on your career journey will broaden your perspective.
Studies show that about 60% of women like to set career goals for themselves and 74% of women globally in junior or middle manager level positions expressed aspirations of reaching senior or executive leadership ranks within their organization. To get desired results in your career, you need to act.
Career growth should be on your list of goals for 2019. Continuing our thoughts on what we can do for ourselves, let's prioritize growing our careers and taking action. In this blog post, we will explore ways you can ensure you get the results you want at work.
Own your career development
To continuously grow in your career, it is essential to have a career development plan. Think about what you want to achieve in your career in the short, mid and long term. It is a missed opportunity to take the approach of "let's see where my career takes me" or “ I’ll see what my company will do for me.” Take an active approach to discovering where you want to be and working towards it. Learn more practical ways to Own your career development from my previous blog post. Remember that you are responsible for building the great career you desire and that it is possible.
Talk about your work
A great way to show your value and contribution is to make your work visible. Many women I talk to struggle with talking about the great work they are doing and their unique contribution to their company. Practice sharing highlights of what you are working on at any opportunity you get at work. Share some lessons you learned and the great results you have produced. If you aspire to get more recognition for your work, start talking about your accomplishments today. Discover more ways to Celebrate your professional achievements.
Find Mentors and Sponsors
Identifying the people who can serve as advocates and support you with your career development is a great contributor to your career growth. You need a mentor who will give friendly advice, build relationships and help you improve. A sponsor, on the other hand, can support you to get to the next level and help you get ahead. In a previous blog post titled How to find professional Sponsors, I shared some practical tips that can assist you on your quest. An additional piece of advice that I would like to share; seek out mentors and sponsors way before you need them and invest time in building relationships. The more they know about you and your work, the better they can support you.
Build your network
Having a community of people who are working on developing their careers will help you propel your career. Sometimes networking sounds daunting because we think of growing a massive network of people rather than making connections with our peers and industry partners. Great ways to start building your professional network include attending events, conferences, talks, and trainings. Discover more practical tips from my blog post How to build a professional network.
Seek out new opportunities
To find fulfilling work, you may need to look outside your day to day responsibilities for new opportunities. An essential part of women's satisfaction at work comes from doing more meaningful work and having opportunities to make a difference. Seek out work that provides you some satisfaction and growth opportunities. Depending on where you work, this may be a gradual process, be patient and persistent. Explore more tips on How to take Initiative at work from my previous blog post.
Call to Action
Where do you want to go in your career? Write down 3 things you want to achieve at work over the next year and 3 more longer-term career goals. Take a step today.
"Hold up a mirror and ask yourself what you are capable of doing, and what you really care about. Then take the initiative - don't wait for someone else to ask you to act. " - Sylvia Earle
In an in-depth conversation I had recently with a fellow boss lady, we discussed the successes we have experienced as a result of us taking the initiative and seeking out opportunities. We also discussed the need we see daily for more women to be bold and take the initiative. Isn't it interesting that the verb used in relation with Initiative is “taking”? This highlights the need for us to take action.
In this blog post, I want to encourage you to take the initiative with the help of some useful techniques and resources.
What does Initiative mean?
Why do you need to take Initiative?
Why don’t we take Initiative?
To understand this more, I did some research to find the top reasons why people don't take Initiative.
Five ways to start taking the initiative
Make the decision
Be clear on the benefits of taking the initiative in your career development. Decide to start taking the initiative today and take the first step. When you decide to start taking the initiative, good things start unfolding, and opportunities come your way.
Questions to consider:
Seek out development opportunities
Now that you have decided to start taking the initiative, be on the lookout for things you are interested in and care about. Take full responsibility for your development and start identifying ways to make it happen.
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Work on extra projects
Showing that you can take the initiative and work on projects that may be outside of your daily responsibilities has many benefits. If you are looking for a way to gain visibility and set yourself apart, working on a side project is a great way. Use every opportunity you get to show your value.
Questions to consider:
Stay informed and current
Connect yourself to people who know what happens within the company. They will provide you with insight into the events that you can benefit from. Staying informed and aware is a crucial part of taking Initiative.
Questions to consider:
Surround yourself with other "Initiative Takers."
The best way to cultivate a habit of taking Initiative is by surrounding yourself with others who believe in the power of taking initiatives. You can inspire and get inspiration from this group of people.
Questions to consider:
Let's wrap up this post with some great quotes about taking the initiative
In job interviews, you are often asked: "what motivates you." Interestingly this question is only asked before you start a job. However, it is a valuable question you should repeatedly ask yourself as you get deeper into your job responsibilities. This topic is very close to my heart because I see many people around me who don't feel motivated at work. With all the time we spend at work, it is essential to enjoy it.
The primary objective of this post is to encourage you to be in the driver's seat when it comes to your motivation at work. Often motivation is talked about as if we have to depend on others to motivate us. Earlier in my career, I tied my motivation to things my managers or team did. It became exhausting as I was often disappointed and in turn easily demotivated. Once I decided to make a change and start being self-motivated, I found more happiness at work.
Why do you need to be motivated?
There are many benefits of being motivated at work that you want to tap into:
How to stay motivated at work
Let's explore five ways to take control of staying motivated at work
#1: Do work that you enjoy
The concept of being able to enjoy the work that you do is one I have been pondering on lately. Does it mean that you have to enjoy every task you do? The answer that gives me peace is, no you don't have to enjoy every single aspect of your job. The key is to identify the one thing you like doing at work and do it well. Although you might have to do things you don't like, now you have something that makes you smile.
#2: Build a peer motivation community
Camaraderie and peer motivation are significant factors for employee motivation. Build your support group of co-workers and other colleagues that help one another stay motivated. I encourage you to surround yourself mostly with co-workers who are positive and motivated. You will begin to see great results in your attitude and motivation at work.
#3: Own your professional development
One of the reasons we feel stuck is that we fail to plan our careers. An excellent way to avoid getting to that point is to have a professional development plan. Ensure you set goals and work towards them. Working towards your career goals will not only help you grow professional it will also help you stay motivated.
#4: Check your motivation gauge regularly
Be aware of the circumstances that affect your motivation negatively. Make it a priority to check in with yourself and adjust accordingly. Personally, checking in on how I'm doing at least once a month helps me. I notice that if I let too much time pass without checking in, I miss key signals that highlight the need to make a change.
#5: Stay connected to your professional network
Some great ways to get instant motivation at work include keeping your skills current, being mentored, reading industry journals as well as attending events and conferences. Staying connected to other professionals outside your day to day team provides you with a needed fresh perspective. I've found inspiration from my professional network. Keeping your inner fire burning is crucial!
Here are the Top 10 lessons I have learned about staying motivated at work