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How to Network When You’re Junior

how to network when you're juniorHere’s a fun question, ladies: what are your best networking tips for younger women just starting out in their careers? What’s your best advice on how to network when you’re junior? We’ve rounded up some tips from readers in our last discussion, and I have some thoughts as well, but I’m curious to hear what you guys have to say about this.

For my part, I remember when I was just out of school I felt like it was so much harder to approach older people whose careers I admired — like it would have been so much easier if I’d had connections, influence, or experience to  bring to the the table.  One of the best things that helped me overcome this fear of networking was doing a summer internship for magazine students where they heavily mentored us (every week we had a different major editor offering career advice to the group) and week after week people encouraged us to just reach out to people we admired and ask for coffee, lunch, breakfast.  The first trick was knowing what not to ask for — never a job, just advice — and even then it was often easier to ask them about their own path than for direct advice about your path. The second trick was to know that their time was valuable, so either ask small (could I get 15 minutes of your time in your office to talk about career stuff / hear more about Magazine X / hear more about your path to Editor in Chief?) or make it “worth their time” by setting up a group lunch with several other interns or junior people.  The final trick they passed on was that once you were on someone’s radar, to stay on their radar — say hi at every event, send an occasional email with news that they would find interesting, or more — even just send a congratulatory email when they get a new job or new accolade. (We’ve also talked in the past about the different tactics you may want to use when networking with older men vs. networking with older women.)

Now that I’m older I would also advise my younger self to not discount networking among fellow junior colleagues — make friends, get to know people, stay in touch. Hopefully this is totally perfunctory advice and you’re making friends with colleagues regardless of whether they can help you down the line — but it’s one I haven’t heard said a lot in networking advice, at least directly.

The last time we discussed this, the readers (as always!) had a ton of great advice on how to network when you’re junior:

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Feeling Jealous of a Younger Colleague

Feeling Jealous of a Younger ColleagueWhat should you do if you’re feeling envious of a colleague who’s younger than you, seemingly unappreciative of the opportunity you’re giving her, and also — in your opinion — inappropriately flirty at networking events? Reader J wonders:

I’m a 40 yr old business development manager at an engineering firm. I’ve formed a group of female colleagues that helps with networking and business that’s getting notice in my city (like a Stiletto Mafia). A few months ago one of the key ladies in my group invited my junior engineer in my firm to join.

This engineer is funny and smart but also a gorgeous 24 yr old. Now I am torn between wanting to be a mentor and jealousy. I am jealous that she has access to this group of high powered ladies that are my friends and doesn’t seem to grateful that I’m including her. This engineer also occasionally helps with networking. It’s frustrating to attend a business event while these men are flirting with her. She isn’t overt, but she is aware of her looks and plays them up.

I’d like to drop her from the group and ask her to focus on current clients vs networking. Am I being a hypocrite?

I think you’re being honest, Reader J — a lot more than most people would be in person. I don’t think this is unusual, though; I think a lot of younger women alienate good mentors by being too entitled (like the reader who expected her boss to help her network) or arrogant at work, or, here, too focused on other parts of life like flirting. (We have offered some tips in the past on how to network with older women that may help younger readers here!)

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The Guide to Pantyhose for Work

Guide to Wearing Pantyhose For Work | CorporetteIf you were to write someone a guide to pantyhose for work, what would you say? Reader H wonders, and since this is one of the biggest topics we’ve talked about through the years, I thought I’d give it a go.  Here’s H’s question:

Hi! I know you write a lot about pantyhose/tights/stockings–sorry to bring it up again–but I am so confused about them. I grew up in Southern California where no one wears pantyhose, ever, and tights only as a fashion statement or on very rare cold days. I know you’re supposed to wear nude pantyhose to an interview and in very formal situations like court, but on a regular day in the office, is it okay to wear sheer or opaque black tights in the office? How about with a suit in the office? Or with a pencil skirt? Are there color rules e.g. no black tights with a black suit? I suppose what I really need is a Dummy’s Guide to Wearing Stockings. Thanks so much for any sort of information that could help sort me out

We have talked about this a lot, but I still see a lot of confusion about it.  So let’s get into it — I’m curious to hear what readers say. (Pictured: readers have always sung the praises of Donna Karan’s The Nudes pantyhose in the past; they’re $20-$25 at Nordstrom.) 

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Should You Buy a Holiday Gift for Your Boss?

gifts for boss 2Should you get presents for your boss? If so, what gifts should you get? Reader A wonders:

I’ve been with my company for less than a year, and it’s also my first corporate job. I work in a very small team, consisting of my two bosses and myself. As holiday season is almost upon us, I was wondering if you had any guidelines for what (if anything) is appropriate to give as a small gift for two supervisors who have been very generous with their time and expertise while I’ve been learning the ropes. Any suggestions welcome!

Hmmn. Hmmmn. We’ve talked about gifts for associates who refer you new business, hostess gifts for a dinner party at your boss’s house, and gifts for your secretary, but this is a new one, and I’m curious to hear what readers say. For my $.02: I would be verrrry careful about giving gifts to a boss because I think it’s unnecessary, and it’s easy to offend. A too-personal gift (like towels or something) may create the impression that you don’t know the difference between family and the office. On the other hand, a too-impersonal gift (a random gift that reads “this is my go-to gift when I don’t know what to get,” like a bottle of wine or a box of fruit) simultaneously smacks of “why even bother” along with “wait, does she think we were supposed to get her something?” A gift that’s too small (like a $25 gift card) is both cheap and insulting (as in, you think your boss needs a $25 gift card) — but a gift that’s too generous raises the problematic interpretation of, “she isn’t working for the money.”

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What to Look For in Interview Flats

What To Look For In Interview Flats | CorporetteWhat should you look for in interview flats? When, if ever, must you wear heels to an interview? Which are the most stylish kinds of flats for interviews? Reader L wonders:

I’m starting law school in August, and I’ve heard that heels (3-4″) are a MUST for interviewing and working at a law firm. However, I am a 6′ tall female. I never wear heels, since when I do, I tend to tower over everyone. Would it be appropriate to wear a nice pair of flats in my case?

Great question! We’ve talked about how to build a stylish, professional wardrobe with flats, how to wear heels (if you’re used to flats), and whether flats are professional enough for court.  As far as shoe questions go, this is important, so even though we’ve talked about it a lot, I want to stress it again: you don’t need to wear heels to look professional.  There are a number of reasons why you wouldn’t want to wear heels — from feeling too tall (although hey, I say rock it out if you have the height!), to having foot injuries or issues, to just I-don’t-wanna-itis. A few things that I would note about wearing flats for big events like interviews:

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Summer Associate Series: Ending an Internship Positively

How to End Your Internship Gracefully | CorporetteHow can you end an internship positively?  This week in our Summer Associate Series,* as the summer starts to wind down (for some, at least!), I thought we’d take a look back at some of our best posts on how to wrap up your summers, whether they be as summer associates or interns.  (If you do still have a few weeks of work left, though, you may want to check out our post on how to get the work you want, and how to network when you’re at the bottom of the ladder.)

Readers, what are your best tips for interns on how to end on a strong note?  How important is the home stretch in terms of making an impression?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.)  Check out our previous posts on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, general business etiquette tips, and business lunch etiquette tips.

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