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By Maria Huggins - March 14, 2019
Whether you're just starting your career or an established professional, most of us still have room to progress in our career path. Beyond earning a degree and finding a job, what can women do to make that happen? What can we do to stand out from the crowd and advance?
We spoke with six female executives at American Century Investments® in honor of Women's History Month to ask them each the same question: What is the best career advice you've ever received? Below are their answers.
Have a goal, and make sure every job you get is a job that adds value. It should help you achieve the ultimate goal of what you want to be. And with that, don't measure the sacrifices. I actually worked several months for free after I took time off to have a child. I did what I needed to do in order to show that I was up to speed on what was going on in markets and companies and investments. I think it's important to have a goal and then focus on it and work really hard to get there.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given, and pass on, is to take something off of your boss's plate. First, you're helping your leader. Second, those items help train you for the next step up in your career. It's simple advice that gives you some great perspective on the position above and helps the team move forward.
There are several things that stand out. One is to be your authentic self and not try to fit into any mold others may have for you. Another is to trust your instincts. When I've second guessed my gut, I've usually come out on the losing side. Another good piece of advice for me that I have come to embrace is to know your worth. Understand your strengths and where you can be stronger and make the adjustment. You can't let someone else dictate your worth.
But, the best life advice I've gotten came from my great-grandmother, which I have also used in my career. She said to treat people how you want to be treated.
Pick an area and become an expert in it. Choose something within your field and learn it—inside and out—so you become the "go-to" person on that topic. Your area of expertise will likely change over time, but the value in making yourself irreplaceable will stay with you throughout your career.
The best career advice I received was to "speak up." We women tend to hold back, assuming our answer is not fully baked. However, in working with markets, there are too many variables and there is no perfect answer. We must assimilate all data, analyze them deeply, make educated decisions and be willing to fail, learn from failures and still come back ready to do the same every day.
In a professional environment, come prepared and advocate for yourself—highlight your skills and your willingness to take on additional responsibilities, and add value to your team.
The advice I tend to most often apply is "Don't bring problems; bring solutions." This keeps me focused on the positive—finding better and more effective ways to accomplish goals. I find it empowering because it puts the accountability on me for solving issues and effecting change.
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The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.