As I reflect on my career, I am grateful for the great people who have positively influenced my career. These incredible people saw my potential, invested in my development, provided new opportunities, mentored and sponsored me. We do not take the time to celebrate the people who have supported us in our professional lives.
In this blog post, I will share the five people that changed my career trajectory. Check out the other "Her Career" posts for tips and resources to help you thrive professionally.
The person who gave me my first internship
Throughout my years studying at the university, I worked on campus, babysat kids, and worked in restaurants to pay my way through school. When the time came to find internships, I had no idea where to start. I did not have a network in Germany that I could call on at this time of need. In a casual conversation with one of the mum's of the kids I was caring for, I shared that I was looking for an internship. A few weeks later, she told me about one of her husband's friends that would be interested in talking to me about internship opportunities. I prepared myself and went for coffee with the New connection. He offered me an internship in an IT department of a bank in neighboring Luxembourg. I still remember my first time on the shuttle from Trier to Luxemburg. I could not believe that I was on my way to my first job in a bank.
The internship gave me my first taste of Program Management, and my journey started. Internships were unpaid back then, so I continued babysitting. When the six months were over, I returned to continue my last year at university. After one semester, the time came for my final internship, and the person who gave me my first internship made an introduction to someone who worked in an IT department at an airline, and I got my second internship. This connection would not have happened if he did not spend some of his social capital on my behalf.
The person who gave me my first job
After writing over 50 job applications, I started worrying that I might not get a job after graduating from University in Germany. Although I had worked hard to earn my degree in business information systems and lived in Germany for almost ten years then, I still had no solid professional network to rely on and was mainly applying for jobs that I found in newspapers. Then one day, I was invited to interview at a management consulting firm in Offenbach outside Frankfurt. Unfortunately, I didn't get that job. While I was on my way back to Trier, I got a call inviting me to an interview in Cologne. I remember preparing very hard because I really needed this job. Early one morning, I got on a train to Cologne to hopefully get this job. The interview went well, and I wanted to work for this mobile agency. This was my first full-time job that helped me continue building my portfolio as a tech program manager.
My new employer took a bet on me and believed in my abilities. My first project was managing the development of a mobile app for a well-known German automobile brand. I still remember making 18,000 Euros in that job, and it felt like a lot of money to me.
The people who approved my relocation to the US from Germany
Although my move to the US was for a personal reason to be with my now husband, it has been one of the greatest things to happen to my career. Moving here has taken my career to heights I could never have imagined. I worked for an American company that had an office close to where my husband lived. After a series of events in my personal life, I knew that I was ready to move from Germany to the US. Relocating with my company was the easiest way to make it happen. Years before, I had spoken to our HR lead and other leaders in the company about my desire to relocate to the US. In late 2014, the time was right, and I had great advocates for my move from Cologne to our San Francisco office. Although because there was no business reason for my relocation, I had to cover most of my costs. However, my company did a lot of my immigration paperwork which was the hardest part. Moving to the Bay Area to be with my now husband was great for my personal life and career.
The person who gave me my first role leading a program management office
Working in a Management consulting company was one of my career highlights. It offered me the opportunity to work on projects for clients in many different industries. In eight years, I worked on aviation, automobile, fashion, and travel programs as a software program manager. I also got to work with global teams and learned a lot about different cultures. Fast forward to when I moved to the US, my skills as a global program manager were in high demand. After working on several projects for two years, I was offered the opportunity to work on a global program and said yes. My initial role for this client was to lead the development of a new platform. Over time, the scope of our work grew, and I built strong relationships with our clients. With the increase in scope and the size of our global team, the need for a central Program Management Office (PMO) came up. One of my team leads asked if I wanted to like to manage the PMO, and I initially said no. The role had a lot of responsibilities and required me to travel. I could not imagine having to be away from home for so much. He kept the role open and gave me time to get used to the idea of this big role. A few months passed, and I started believing that I could succeed. Having a team lead that encouraged me to take a bigger role is something I will always appreciate. Leading the PMO has been one of the highlights of my career.
A manager and skip-level manager that gave me the space to do great work
In previous blog posts, I have shared how successful the last two years have been for me professionally. Two of the people who have played a significant role in making this possible are my manager and skip level manager at the time. I am sure when they both first met me, they must have wondered why I was so bold in professing what I wanted from my career. I started building a relationship with my skip-level manager in 2019 when I joined a partner organization. Due to my previous experience, I knew that I needed great Sponsors to get to when I wanted to be in my career. Without knowing all the details, I am very grateful she has advocated for me in rooms where my career progression was discussed. In 2021, a few months after I returned from Maternity leave, I got to meet my new manager. Over the last two years, I have really appreciated how much faith and trust my Manager has put in my abilities.
Reflecting on my career journey reminded me of the past year's highs and lows. My professional journey started in Germany and has continued in the US over the past eight years. My experiences have varied vastly, and my growth has been phenomenal. As I think about what is next for me in my current career phase, I am reminded of how instrumental others have been in my career. I want to be someone that is a positive part of someone's career journey and experience.
Time for Reflection
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