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Managing Your Career: A Talk At Bryant University

Last week I was invited to speak to students at Bryant University about how I navigated my career from trading on Wall Street, to growing a small investment advisory firm, to working for CBS. It was a great event and the students were just terrific. It was also a chance for me to reflect on what brought to me to this place in my non-traditional, winding career path.


I wasn't one of those college students who had a grand master plan about the future. In fact, I was jealous of my roommate Debra, who knew she wanted to be a doctor practically from birth. The truth is, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I just tried stuff that seemed interesting. My Dad was a stock and options trader on the floor of the American Stock Exchange, so there was an easy path to taste that world. When I was in college, I thought TV news was cool, so I talked my way into an internship at the local NBC affiliate in Providence, RI.

From an early age, one thing became clear about my fledgling career: working hard for people often paid great dividends. In return for hard work, I found that managers wanted to give me something--maybe it was a quick pep-talk after an especially brutal trading day or perhaps an editing lesson on a slow news day. Looking back, the relationships that I formed in those early years went beyond "networking"--they were the building blocks upon which my career was created.

At the end of the talk, the students ask that I blog about the visit and some of the lessons I learned on the way. So here goes--Jill's Career Lessons (so far!):

  • Work hard at your relationships-not the quantity but the quality
  • Networking is great, but it should be bilateral, don't always ask-give something back!
  • Maximize every opportunity: identify what you like and don't like about the job at hand
  • Honor your calling or profession by trying to do best work you can
  • Be genuine to yourself and your style
  • Trust your gut: analysis is great, but if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't
  • Have a willingness to master your given job before trying to improve it
  • Create the job you want to have
  • Be open to new routes and take chances, but don't dig in
  • Be willing to admit/see when it's not working
  • Know when to move on and leave well
  • When you don't know something, ask for help
  • Accept that sometimes clients or colleagues don't listen
  • Develop a thick skin, especially if you're in the client business
  • Respect your competition
While I hate syrupy platitudes, this one always struck a chord with me: "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck." -- Dalai Lama
Image by Flickr User tibchris, CC 2.0