Donna. Advice for Young Women

posted February 18th, 2010 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Donna to tell me about the best advice she had ever been given and what she would pass along to a young woman. She said: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Someone actually said that to me once and I thought you know what you can’t be everything to everyone.  You have to keep your perspective and keep your sense of humour about things.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t driven and it doesn’t mean you aren’t focused but you can keep your sense of humour and keep things in perspective as well. Life’s full of compromises and I think it actually can work pretty well.”

 

In terms of offering specific advice to young women, Donna had the following to say: “A lot of my career was spent juggling job and kids. It was a big part of my life and it’s not something that every woman faces. I did juggle… and I do juggle… four kids which can sound daunting to a lot of women and is daunting to those of us who have been crazy enough to do it. So I do talk very openly with young women about what it’s like to do that.  It’s not always easy or simple.  It’s fantastic and it’s worth the time but you have to do it knowing that there will be trade-offs.  For example, when you go off for maternity leave it can be difficult to manage when you come back to the office.  But if you have an idea of what to expect and if you think strategically about how to manage the challenges, it’s manageable and rewarding. That’s why you should talk to people about it.  Young women need to know women that have combined work with children; they need to find what worked for others and apply it to themselves so they can have a little more control over their lives and circumstances. I think we lose a lot of women who have children and then have trouble finding their place at work and at home.  So let’s be honest about the challenges and accommodate women who are juggling the busy years of work and young children, so we maintain a strong pool of women at all levels in the industry.”

 

I asked Donna whether she would advise a young woman to establish alliances with other women at her firm or elsewhere. She said she thought networking was good no matter where it took place. She said: “I think you should know the women within your firm.  I think you should know the men within your firm as well but I think there’s nothing wrong with, and women shouldn’t be afraid of, associating with other women.  I think the stigma of that is gone.  You still have to be professional.  You still have to be careful.  You can’t just tell people anything.  You have to think about the consequences, think about the information.  Networking with women from other firms is also fantastic.  But if you want to progress in your career, you can’t just focus on networking with women.  You’ve got to get involved in the community and in the industry.  In particular, when you have children and are working, it’s very helpful to network with other women that have children that are a little older.  There’s a ton that you can learn from people that have gone through it before that will help you figure out what will work for you.”

 

What Strikes Me?

 

Don’t sweat the small stuff

 

You can’t be everything to everyone

 

Keep your perspective and your sense of humour

 

Life is full of compromises

 

Young women need to know women that have done it; they need to find out what might work for them so they can have a little more control over their lives

 

A lot of women go off and have children and then have trouble finding their place at work and at home

 

Networking is good

 

Women should know the women and men within their firms

 

Networking with women and men from other firms is fantastic

 

Women shouldn’t be afraid of networking with other women; however, if you want to go ahead in your career, you can’t just focus on networking with women 

 

Get involved in the community.  Get involved in the industry

 

When you have children and are working, it’s very helpful to network with other women who have children that are a little older than you. You can learn a ton from people that have gone through it before that will help you figure out what will work for you.

 

What Strikes You?

 

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