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The Unsilenced Advocacy Team

General Career Observations

Post By Katherine McNamara

While there are multiple ways to get to the same destination and different ways to be successful, we would like to share some observations that has worked for us or others:

  • Location may matter – If you are in a more rural area and far away from larger metro areas with little-to-no experience in a given industry, it may be harder to get positions that allow you to move up in career paths. For example, if you are looking to work in tech, it would be my recommendation to move to a metro area where there would be more opportunities for entry-level positions for that career path.
  • You can make it without certification, degrees, and training classes but it depends on the industry but it may be a tougher – There are going to be HR filters and middle management working against you depending on the industry. It might take longer than your peers who do have those things but it is not impossible either. One person I knew had some sage advice on why he works so hard for degrees and his other pieces of paper even with years of experience under his belt: “Getting a job and staying competitive in the job market is like going to war. I want to have all the ammo I can have to be the most effective and those degrees and certifications are just more bullets and ammunition for me.” This is true. If two candidates are applying for the same job with comparable experience, but one has a degree or a certification and the other does not, who do you think will probably get the job if all other things are equal? More than that, who do you think will have better leverage for salary negotiation? Keep this in mind as you move through your career.
  • Your certifications, education, and degrees are for you and your career, don’t let other people discourage you from advancing – Another trend I see is people worried about their coworkers/family generally being discouraging when it comes to education, self-study, and the amount of time it takes. While there is no “silver bullet” in terms of career or education, it is important to remember that you are responsible for your career and advancement – not the people who are discouraging you. There might be jealousy in play, maybe they’ve never moved up in their careers, maybe the industry was different when they started, or it may be something else. Every situation is different but if you get discouraged by the people you work with, don’t let it stop you from pursuing your goals. Build a tribe of people who will encourage you.
  • Depending on the field, sometimes the type of degree doesn’t matter if you already have one – An example of this is if if you’re switching to tech and you have a music/liberal arts/history/philosophy degree, my recommendation would NOT be to restart college and get another degree in tech. You would be better served probably going for certifications at that point. There might be some return-on-investment on the technology-specific degree if your starting point is no degree at all but not enough to put yourself in more debt after you already have a degree.
  • Be prepared to sacrifice a lot to get to where you want to beDepending on what your goals are, it will take more than just getting that first job.  Even with that first job, you might need to study, self-fund your own training, and/or continue your education in other ways since many employers put the onus on the employee to move to that next level in their career. On-the-job training is nice but it is not often a given in most industries and my recommendation is not to rely on it for your own advancement.
  • Use career/industry forums and other public places to see what the most successful people in your field have done – Listening to the advice that people give is free. Apply it to yourself when you can. Also, be sure to consider the source when you get advice on forums. Is this person just working in the same role for the last 10 years or are they someone who’s moved up quickly? Are they a hiring manager? Are they in a senior role? Do they have the job you want? I can absolutely say without a doubt that I was able to avoid huge career missteps thanks to just listening to my seniors on forums.
  • Try to build a strong support system/build a tribe – Make sure that the people in your life who matter support you and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’ll make it easier if you have people encouraging you and understanding why you need to hide in your room for 5 hours a night while you try to better yourself. This might not b