Managing Your Career: A Talk At Bryant University

Last Updated Apr 2, 2010 8:12 AM EDT

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
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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.