Advice for young women in the workplace

21st Century Personnel Portraits

Laurika Fourie

It’s Woman’s Month and thankfully we have come a long way from receiving advice on how to become a better housewife or a super secretary. As a generation to grow up after the first waves of feminism we have much to celebrate, one of which is career opportunities not afforded to many women before us, albeit among challenges that still exist.

Embarking on your chosen career path, what does it take to become an established member of the team and shape your professional trajectory?

Initiating change starts with you

Take opportunities presented to you even if you feel you are not ready. There is great wisdom in the advice “fake it ’til you make it”. Think of the women who have come before you, many of them took advantage of the opportunities they were presented with and you should do the same. Confidence is key so just jump in and do it.

Find a mentor

An established group of mentors is highly beneficial to any young women in the workplace. Look for a solid group whom you can turn to for support, no matter what your field, and even gain insights about a possible career move. However, it is important to remember that, as with all relationships, a mentorship is two-way and you should bring something to it.

Trust those with experience

Understand your boss and accept that he/she is more experienced than you are. You may not get along as such but you can always learn from your boss with the long-term goal of advancing your career. Think of your relationship as a process of discovery. If your boss values communication, communicate, if they value details, provide details. Always be willing to take on the work assigned, within reason, and go the extra mile wherever possible.

Focus on results, not hours or days

Realising your aspirations requires hard work and dedication. I mentioned mentors and putting in the extra hours wherever you can above but, perhaps the best advice I can offer is to ignore the time element and focus on results. Use innovative and intensive ways to further your career and feel safe in the knowledge that you will become the high-achieving woman you know you can be at the end of it all.

Laurika Fourie is the Product & Systems Manager at 21st Century (Pty) Ltd.