I have been in the business world for over a year now, and it is not what I expected so far. Having started in a small company with a lot of room to grow I went from being a personal assistant to the Director of Public Relations. These months of growth have taught me a lot about how to be in the business world - and how to be a young woman while you're at it.
The first thing to remember is that nothing is personal. I remember tearing up in meetings when I realized I didn't finish a project by deadline, or during a critique of my press releases. A year of business has made me much more tough. Everyone is just trying to do their job, and getting critique is a great way to show that you can grow and are an adaptable employee. When you take things personally you are showing that you are not able to take criticism. And there is no room for tears in the workplace. I learned that the hard way :)
Another thing I have learned is that it is so important to finish every task you are assigned. When you are young and in the workplace you are expendable - especially, it seems as a female. Prove that you can get things done on time and get them done well. I have made sure I can account for everything under my jurisdiction.
Don't be afraid to be a boss. When I first had employees to direct I was terribly intimidated. Not only are some of them older women, but I had men to direct too. I had a hard time at first showing them that I could do it. Then I realized that just because I am a young woman I know what I am doing. There is a reason I was given this opportunity. Delegating became easier once I realized that.
Something else I have done is set my expectations high for my employer. I have been frank and honest with him, showing what I have done, telling him when I feel I deserve a raise or specific opportunity, and telling him I can prove myself. I used to be so weak in the workplace. I would work a job for a year and not ask for a raise when I deserved one because I would rather get paid less and avoid the awkward conversation. I will never do that again. I think it shows confidence and a clear direction when you are not afraid to ask for what you want.
Lastly, I have made it clear what I am and am not okay with. Often I go on business trips with just older men and myself. During dinner appointments and tradeshows as well I am almost always the only girl. I have made it clear when I feel uncomfortable at times. The men I work with now respect me for that and are careful about what they say in my presence, and how they act around me. I feel like we have become friends because I have shown them that I am not afraid to stand up for myself.
It isn't easy being a young girl in the business world and to be honest, I never imagined myself here. But now that I am here, I love what I do and I enjoy working so much. It gives me fulfillment in a way that school never did.
Any other young girls in the workplace who can relate? I would love to hear your experiences/stories.