Scroll Forward In Your Palm Pilots…

Where Do You Think You'll Be in Five Years? | CorporetteWhere do you think you’ll be in five years? TEN years? How do you think gender issues will affect your journey?

The NYT recently looked up some of the women profiled in a 2001 article, “Great Expectations” — in the original article, it interviewed new female associates at BigLaw firm Debevoise & Plimpton and asked,

Do the new female associates expect to see themselves making partner in greater numbers than their predecessors? Here, 17 of them scroll forward on their Palm Pilots and try to predict, while 4 veterans look back on what it took and speculate about the former colleagues who followed a different path.

The more recent article/documentary, “Great Expectations for Female Lawyers,” looked up several of the women profiled and found that many had not accomplished their original goals, many pondering whether the gender gap had an impact on them.

So I’m going to do something fairly ambitious today: I’m going to ask you guys to scroll forward in YOUR Palm Pilots (tee hee) and tell me: where do you want/think you’ll be in five years — and in ten years? What do you think the major challenges are that you’ll encounter? How much do you think gender issues will play into your success or failure? I’d love to ask that everyone comment with an email address in the address field — I’ll keep your emails private but I’d love to be able to come back to this post in five years (or ten years, God willing) and email a few of you to see where you are, how it shook out. (This is the ambitious part!) (Of course all email addresses will be held in confidence, in keeping with The Corporette Privacy Policy.)

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How to Turn Down Opportunities

how to turn down opportunitiesHow do you turn down opportunities at work when the timing isn’t right?  Reader M wonders…

I was recently asked to relocate offices (I work at a mid-sized law firm). The relocation would be something of a promotion based on the work I’d get to do and the people I’d get to work with. I was asked because the other office is very busy and has more work than capacity at the moment. If I were single, I’d probably say yes. Or least strongly consider it. But I’m engaged to a wonderful man who is not enthusiastic about the idea of uprooting his life and his career to follow me to a smaller city with less opportunity for him. My question is, how do you turn down an offer for relocation without appearing to be uncommitted to your job? I want to signal that I love my job and appreciate the opportunity, but that it’s not the right time or circumstances for me.

I had a similar situation come up when I started dating my husband — a company I would have loved to work for started heavily recruiting me, even offering to train me in an area I was eager to get into.  The catch: it was all the way across the country.  I’ve always endeavored to stay in the same time zone as my family, but with the addition of this new guy I’d started dating (only two months in at that point!) it was an easy decision: I turned it down outright.  At the time I felt like a bad feminist, a bad overachieving chick, a bad…everything, but I have no regrets.  (Of course, hindsight is 20/20.)  Along similar lines, I know that my father turned down fairly major career opportunities when my brother and I were in high school because it would have meant uprooting the family to a foreign country.  [Read more...]

Careers and Personalities

personalities and careersCareers and personalities are always a fun topic, and a TON of of different things exist out there to help you pick which career might work best for you. A friend just told me about the StrengthsFinder and of course there are books like What Color is Your Parachute (updated yearly, apparently!), and I know I’ve taken interminably long quizzes that have told me (much to my dismay) that being a lawyer is a great career for me. (Wasn’t there a similar episode of Friends where Chandler finds out he’s a great fit for the job he’s hated all those years?) So I thought it might be fun to have a conversation about it. For those of you happy in your careers — what is the specific mix of personality trait and career characteristic that is a great fit for you? For those of you who’ve been unhappy in your careers, what was/is the mix of personality trait and career characteristic that grated the most? Does anyone swear by a book or test that helped you find your path?  For those of you who have been in one career for a while, but hated one job and loved another, what were the job-specific traits that hurt or helped your fit for the job?

For my own $.02, I would say: [Read more...]

When Do Girly Clothes Become Unprofessional?

dressing-too-girlyIf you wear girly clothes, will you be seen as less of a professional? Reader A wonders…

I recently parted ways with a company where I was being micromanaged, like my boss didn’t trust me to do anything without his help and supervision. He never said why, but he kept treating me like some incompetent child. At the same time, I’m really into mid-century fashion, and I would wear really girly things that wouldn’t really been seen in most traditional offices – polka dots, shades of pink, lacy headbands, and even bows. I knew it was unorthodox and I may get some weird looks, but in hindsight I’m wondering if my clothing made my manager see me as a little girl, and maybe that’s why he wasn’t taking me seriously as a young professional. Do you think there was any connection between my fashion choices and my boss’s micromanagement?

Yowza. Ok. We’ve talked before about being feminine, as well as wearing vintage to the office, but we haven’t really discussed how going Extremely Girly affects how colleagues perceive you.  I do think  A few thoughts:

  • In general, wearing the occasional girly item is OK.  For example, something pink or polka-dotted will not make you seem like less of a professional, particularly if you otherwise act like a grown-up. Similarly, a bow here or there is fine, provided you don’t look like a present waiting to be unwrapped.  Personally I’m not a huge fan of headbands, but I think that sedate ones (solid ones, if not ones that match your hair color) are occasionally OK at work.
  • That said, it’s a bad idea to wear very girly things exclusively — Elle Woods was comical because she wore pink ALL THE TIME.  [Read more...]

How to Step Up Your Working Wardrobe

How do you step up your wardrobe when you want to be considered for a promotion or raise? Reader U wonders for her business casual office…

I work at a company where there are no strict guidelines to what we should wear. Most days, we are fine wearing casual to business casual. Even with my position as a forecasting specialist, i am not requested to wear something more formal. Jeans with a formal top or a dress are my go-to when we are requested to wear something more presentable. However, I am applying for a supervisory position and have start wearing more formal clothes, specially because I need to be at my best. What is the most appropriate clothing that I could look presentable enough but won’t look like I’m trying hard to impress people? Slacks don’t really fit me well – tiny gal with longer torso. Thanks!

We’ve talked about how to look professional in a laid-back office, how to transition your wardrobe from a very conservative workplace to a more casual office,  as well as how to look professional without being overdressed, but we haven’t talked, directly, about how to step up your wardrobe when you want to be seen as more managerial.  I’m particularly interested to hear what the readers say here.  For my own $.02, this is how I would approach it: [Read more...]

How to Do the Work You’re Not Ready For

how-to-do-work-youre-not-ready-forWhat do you do when your boss gives you work that is beyond your skill level? Reader C asks a great question…

How do you handle a situation when you’re asked to do a task you’re definitely not ready for? I am a newly admitted lawyer in my first job out of law school and I have been doing mostly doc review for 6 months, only within the past 2 weeks have I started doing substantive legal work. My boss asked me to cover a meeting he could not attend. The purpose of which was to allow non-lawyers within the agency to play “ask the lawyer” (me) about general legal questions accumulated over the past month. I am unfamiliar with the legal material and do not have time to prepare. I told my boss I didn’t feel I could competently answer the questions in the allotted time and asked if we could reschedule. Did this make me seem incapable, weak, etc.?

This seems timely, especially since I just read an article with Marissa Mayer where she noted that she never felt ready for any of the work that she did. From the article:

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do,” she said last year while speaking on her best decisions in a talk with NPR Correspondent Laura Sydell. “That feeling at the end of the day, where you’re like, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens.”

So how do you do the work you’re not ready for?  How do you figure it out without screwing up?  I hope that this can be a great thread where we share stories and advice for one another.  Here are some tips, both for Reader C and for other women in this situation.  (And let me just say, I totally get why Reader C was hesitant about this meeting — it sounds like a minefield.)  That said… [Read more...]