Top 10 Advice on Career Development – Part 1
Written by: Laurie Wiegand-Jackson, President, Utility Advantage and Co-Chair, CWEEL Board
- Be Willing to Say Yes – Volunteer. Especially for those of you who are earlier in your careers, don’t be afraid of raising your hand to take an assignment that interests you or to go for a new position. You will benefit:
- by increasing your own knowledge and experience;
- from the satisfaction and confidence that comes from achieving a new goal;
- and if you for some reason fail at the objective or aren’t chosen, you will also learn from that experience
ALL EXPERIENCE IS VALUABLE TO YOUR FUTURE
- Handling Disappointment – Please Persevere! We all have setbacks. Something doesn’t go the way you want – could be a position that you don’t get, a co-worker or boss that is difficult to work with, a project that doesn’t get approved.
- Be assured that it is a temporary situation – this too shall pass.
- Don’t listen to the naysayers – anyone with negative energy/ put downs is not helping you to grow.
- Do listen to your mentor or trusted advisor who will provide positive, encouraging and realistic feedback (more on mentors later)…
Early in my career I worked diligently and excitedly for months on a special project. Having never completed this type of project before, I was on a huge self-learning curve. From market analysis to planning, and from pipeline system design through economic analysis. Once my report was completed, I was asked to be present for the utility’s Board of Director’s meeting at which it was discussed and ultimately the Board decided not to proceed with the expansion. I was disappointed to say the least. Some peers in the company looked at all that work as a “waste of time”. But it taught me valuable lessons and I developed skills in market assessments and analysis that helped me in future positions and as an entrepreneur. As a result of the exposure with the Senior VP and Board, it opened up the door to other opportunities at the company including taking on a leadership role at the utility’s retail affiliate start up and more importantly I found an unexpected passion in “start-ups”.
- Be Willing to Make a Choice & Take a Risk – If you don’t take a chance on something then you limit your career development options. Wanting to “stay safe” is the number one barrier to success. You cannot succeed if you don’t even try.
I was at the stage in my career where I wanted to move from an engineering sales position into management. There was an opening for manager of energy conservation. I had no specific energy efficiency or conservation experience and had only minimal supervisory experience with a small group in the engineering department several years earlier. Many in the company said it was a “dead end” job and the utility only supported energy conservation because of regulatory mandates. I applied for the position as a means to an end – to gain management experience managing a multi-million-dollar program with associated staff and vendors. I was selected and after one year it led to a trajectory into other management positions both within and beyond that company. It also expanded my knowledge base into the area of Energy Efficiency which opened other opportunities for me. It also introduced me to trade organizations, like the Association of Energy Engineers, which provided awesome networking and volunteer opportunities.
Tips 4-10 will be posted throughout the remainder of 2018 – check back for more!