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Taking Charge of My Career

1 Mar

I usually dislike review time at work. I’m not really sure why, as I know I am a good worker, have never gotten a bad review, and have always been awarded some sort of raise or bonus every year. I’m usually REALLY nervous going in and then sit there while my boss tells me what I already know (“You’ve accomplished this, this and this. Here are the business’s goals for this year.”) I usually quietly leave with a thank you and that’s it for another year.

However, yesterday was different.  You see, I didn’t even know my review was yesterday until I got in, so I really had ZERO time to worry about it. I mean, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it. Also, I was more confident because I had a plan of how I was going to address my review. This was the first time I planned on taking an active part in my review process.

And I have SWE (the Society of Women Engineers for all you non-engineers out there) to thank for that…

It just so happened that we had our SWE regional conference at a local university on Saturday. It was a time to network with other female (and some male) engineers and learn a TON about personal and professional development.

Probably the best and most interesting course I took was called “Building Your Career Skills“.

It was a course on understanding what skills are most highly sought after by HR and management in companies and how to utilize the review process to fill in any gaps that you may have as you progress in your career.

The nine essential career skills are:

1.) Technical Depth – design, test and implement solutions; be analytical and efficient
2.) Organizational Integration – understand organization and its mission; have cross-divisional perspective
3.) Strategic Vision – develop long term plans, understand how what I do affects the bottom line
4.) Program Management – employ resources, overcome barriers, prioritize
5.) Leadership – influence and persuade others, reconcile differences, communicate effectively at all levels
6.) Direct People Management – effectively manage, develop trust and credibility, provide guidance
7.) Commercial – demonstrate negotiation skills, customer experience, handle difficult discussions postivly
8.) Financial – understand balance and income sheets, deliver on financial commitments
9.) Operational – deliver product to meet objective, allocate resources efficiently, set priorities

On Sunday, I went through all of the jobs I have had thus far in my career and figured out which career skills I learned from each one. Those skills where I didn’t yet have experience, I tried to think about ways I could learn them in my current position, be it taking classes or being included in meetings where I could be exposed to these areas.

I then went into my review with specific things I wanted to learn and be exposed to during the year. My boss was very open to listening and actually agreed with me as to some of the classes that I was interested in taking. I’ll definitely be following up in a month or so to make sure that some action has been taken on my boss’s part in scheduling something (as he wanted to try to plan a class for the whole group). If I don’t hear anything, I’ll be sure to start doing the research myself to schedule something.

I feel better knowing that at least I’ve spoken up to my boss about my needs and where I want my career to go. We’ll see how it all pans out this year…

Have any of you used a similar strategy in your career? Was your boss receptive to your career needs?

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Day 7 – #Reverb10 – Community

7 Dec

 Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
Author: Cali Harris caligater.com @caligater

In 2010, I have disocovered community by becoming more involved in the Society of Women Engineers at the local level. Within this group, I am able to connect with other women engineers in my area who have experienced what it is like to be a minority in the field, how they are able to establish their career and have a family, and how they have moved up the corporate ladder. It is an awesome place to find and be mentor! We also have a great time doing lots of different activities including Olive Oil tasting (that’s a picture of us at We Olive below…a great place if you have one nearby), going to local museums, and reaching out to others in our community. Being involved in SWE is both professionally and personally rewarding!

In 2011, I want to join and become more deeply connected with the blogging community. For the past couple of years, I’ve lurked (some would call it stalked) on other people’s blogs. It started out with learning all there was about planning a wedding and being inspired to create details that made our wedding day so memorable. Now, my wedding blogs have transformed into “baby” blogs and “home decorating” blogs, as there is a online group of us moving into the next phase of our lives at the same time. I love reading about how others are making the decision to start a family, how they establish work/life balance, how they find inspiration to make their house a home, and just how they live. It’s like a peek into another person’s life that you sometimes don’t even get with your best friends! (That’s why you have your best friend start a blog or two!).

In creating this blog and becoming more active in commenting onblogs that I have loved for a long time, I hope to establish relationships and continue to learn and grow with this community of virtual friends!