Mentoring Your Own Career, Part of Amplity’s Women in Leadership Blog Series
Regardless of the industry you work in, the size of the company you work for, or what kind of job you have, it’s generally well accepted that having a mentor will help guide you through your career. Finding a mentor that will help you maintain resilience, make big decisions and prepare for tough conversations can be tremendously helpful – but you can also be that for yourself.
Looking back twenty years in my career, I am so grateful that I adopted that mentality early. You are your biggest cheerleader. Use your gut as your sounding board, your head as your trusted adviser. Taking this advice landed me a job that led me to the executive position I hold now. Here’s how -
Let’s rewind 20 years back – I was a sales representative for Pfizer. I knew sales wasn’t going to be my long term career niche but would become valuable experience to build on and find the kind of job that I would love and excel at- something requiring me to bring to bear my innate ability to organize anything!
And it did: I saw an opening in the Corporate division of that same company. As I was reading through the job description, it was as if it was speaking to me
“Working on multiple projects at once.” I’m good at that!
“Project-based work.” That’s how my brain works!
“Significant travel.” Where’s my passport?
“Situational leadership of hundreds of people over time.” Well, okay.
I can handle that. I haven’t, but I know that I could.
I applied and got an interview. I knew it would be an uphill battle, as I didn’t have traditional project management experience yet and typically this position wouldn’t have been filled with someone from the sales structure.
This is where you have to ask the tough questions. You can only interpret a situation if you understand exactly what happened and why particular decisions were made.
“Capable, but inexperienced,” they said. Like a pawn moving swiftly post-Check-Mate, I volunteered for a major special project in my sales role that provided a clear project management opportunity, that if I did a good job, I could use to get this Corporate role. I had been candid with my current manager, and she was quick to grant me the permission I needed to work on the project that could potentially fill the experiential gap on my resume.
I did it. I crushed it.
I watched closely for the position to open up again, as that team was growing in size, and was nothing short of giddy when the role was officially accepting applications. I applied, again.
After months of trying again and again to convince the hiring manager I was fit for the job, I was finally given the opportunity.
Two years and multiple interviews later…
I got the job. I worked tirelessly to make an immediate impression on my colleagues and internal customers. I knew their feedback would make its way to the hiring manager, and I waited patiently for the hiring manager to concede that I had been right for the job and was one of the “best hires he’d ever made.”
He commended my persistence and was grateful for my tenacious conviction. He even said this experience had led him to be more open to considering field-based candidates applying for corporate positions.
This role became the basis of my career in project management and I have never forgot the many lessons it taught me: how to juggle multiple rolling projects at once, how to manage internal customers at every level, how to work from on the road, and how to lead a team.
I perfected a documentation system: how to standardize, what could be standardized and how to customize what needed to be.
I managed millions of dollars in budget and made recommendations based on learnings from previous engagements. I learned how to vet potential new vendors and how to conduct an RFP. I created templates and process flows and shared them with other colleagues who were doing the same job but for other marketing teams.
3 years later, I was responsible for multi-million-dollar budgets, managed the US tradeshow strategy for 9 products at over 35 tradeshows each year. Most importantly, I learned to be my own mentor. To go after what I wanted with a relentless pursuit of passion. To trust myself. To honor my potential.
I look back at that time in my career with tremendous gratitude. These days, that job is mostly disappeared, but I think about it often. If I hadn’t known myself, trusted what I was capable of, focused on what my strengths were, I would never have fought so hard and for so long and I may not have gotten where I am today! I still can’t quite believe I tried to get the same job for 2 years! I laugh about it now with gratitude for the lessons it taught me.
Now at Amplity, I hope to be a reminder that you can be your own mentor, your own cheerleader. Fear and anxiety can be a person’s own worst enemy. Go after what you want. But don’t just walk, run.
This is the just one in a series of stories written for our “Women in Leadership” blog, all authentically shared by Amplity’s female leaders. We feel there is power in sharing this authentic collection of female stories in hopes they’ll inspire and uplift the next generation of women currently growing meaningful careers.