4 Tips For Making It To The C-Suite
When I graduated college, I hit me that I had gained $30K in excess debt for something that I loved to do, but had taught me nothing about the corporate world. I went to school for literature and while it taught me how to think critically, it didn’t teach me how to climb a corporate ladder.
As a true introvert, college classes never forced me into group projects and it barely ever made me speak and defend my opinions to a large crowd. Yet, as a woman who was determined to conquer the corporate world; to be seen, heard and appreciated I realized that I had to open myself up to being and acting something that I didn’t think I was. While there may always be things I have to do in my job that aren’t always in my comfort-zone, there is some advice that is just plain ridiculous.
I have read a multitude of tips and tricks on how to climb the corporate ladder:
- Speak up, but understand that the wrong intonation can alienate me from my peers
- Lean in but men should lean out
- Understand that my private choices can affect my public ones
- Appear assertive but not aggressive
Not only did I have to embrace someone I wasn’t on the inside, but I also had to go through the same battle every other woman goes through: finding the magical and illogical balance between being myself and being someone else at the exact same time.
When I finally made it to the real corporate world and created a career that had long-lasting success possibilities and potential, I sat down and reassessed who I was and how I got here. I don’t hold an executive position, but I did realize that companies who have women in high positions do so because those companies offer different benefits and opportunities, such as flexible schedules, paid leave, childcare programs, development and guidance for leadership roles, and meaningful work responsibilities.
Here are a few tips that have actually helped me:
- Negotiate better pay: When offered a job or raise, 93% of women didn’t negotiate for better pay even when they knew they deserved better. Don’t just negotiate, but plan out what you are going to say and research your argument. Then during the meeting lay out everything that you have accomplished for the company. Let the negotiation come at the end after you convinced them of your argument.
- Accept or pursue challenging roles: Not every company is going to come after you with extra projects to help you prove yourself. Put yourself out there. This is still a business and you have to sell yourself and your talents to the company.
- Emulate a coworker: Find another female supervisor, or if it’s slim pickings, choose a man to imitate who carries himself well, dresses professionally, and puts himself out there often. This will help you understand what success look like and what standards to exceed in your workplace.
- Accept accomplishments and compliments: I have noticed that I (as well as others) receive a compliment and then take it upon ourselves to redirect the comment Well, So-and-So was a huge help, or turn the positive into a negative. Don’t do this! Hard work deserves praise. Instead say, Thank you, I’m really proud of that work.
Chelsea Lewis graduated in 2011 from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Humanities with an emphasis in literature and a minor in political science. People often think that literature majors just read stuffy thousand page novels, but that isn’t true. Her education and love for literature goes beyond Walt Whitman and into postmodern works, science fiction, and graphic novels.When Chelsea’s not reading everything she can get her hands on, or surfing the internet for cat videos, she’s eating. Her mother taught her to cook when she was 15 and, like her, Chelsea’s been a fanatic ever since!
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