As a young woman at the beginning of your career, do you feel confident and ready to step into the job market? Though young women today may not face the same limitations and sexism that previous generations did, there are a few considerations you may want to watch out for. Learn more about what you'll need to do to find, secure, and thrive in your first career-level job.
1. Set a Few Goals
It doesn't matter if you can't answer the question "where do you see yourself in ten years?" yet. Setting a short-term goal will help you clarify your intentions for your first job.
If you are job-hunting, think about the type of role you would like right now. What would you like to learn at this job, what skills can it teach you, and how will it help you grow in your career?
2. Make Connections and Find a Mentor
Making connections may sound like an impossible task at this point in your career and you might not know where to start. Attend events in your field, ask for advice, and always be open to career-related conversations. It's not necessary to find a female mentor, but having an older, more experienced woman to turn to in the business can be a priceless help in times of need.
3. Watch Out for Casual Sexism and Racism
You're (probably) not working as a secretary in a Mad Men-esque advertising firm, but microaggressions based on gender, race, weight, and appearance still very much exist. Decide what you're willing to put up with and where you will draw a line.
For example, you could decide to overlook a grandfatherly superior at work calling you "sweetie" in a platonic way, but a male coworker repeatedly flirting with you even after you tell him it makes you uncomfortable should be brought to the attention of either your manager or your human resources department.
4. Put Yourself in the Running for Advancement
Many women — especially young women who are just starting out — don't feel that it's their place to speak up when you don't understand something, ask for a raise after they've worked at the company for years, or put themselves out there to be considered for promotion.
According to Harvard Business Review, men tend to apply for jobs even if they don't meet all of the required qualifications, and women tend to hold back until they're sure they have checked all the boxes on the employer's list. If you know you're a great candidate for a position but you have one year of experience rather than three, or you graduated with a minor rather than a major in business, go ahead and apply. You may end up being surprised at exactly how qualified you are.
5. Start Your Own Business
Perhaps you're considering entrepreneurship and becoming your own boss. If this is your wish, be sure to create an airtight business plan that outlines your company's goals. Include how you will sell your goods and services, decide upon a business structure (such as a limited liability company), and write up a plan for securing funding. Try to estimate financial projections as well — for your own records and to show to investors. If you’re unsure of where to begin, this ZenBusiness guide on How to Start a Business can show you everything you need to know, from writing that business plan to filing all the necessary paperwork.
It's an exciting time to be a young woman in the workforce. There are many opportunities for advancement, remote work, entrepreneurship, and more. Remember to set goals and make time for rest and relaxation so you don't burn out!