Career Care for Women Engineers

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Show Notes

This episode is a continuation of what we talked about last time. So if you haven’t already, you may want to go back and listen to Episode 1.

In Episode 1 I introduced the idea of taking care of your engineering career and the reasons why this is important. I also presented the practice of Self-Assessment as a method for the care and feeding of your career.

2 More Ways Women Engineers Can Feed Their Careers

Today I want to share with you two more practices for the care and feeding of your career. One is Consistent Career Consultations with your boss, and the other is Taking Follow-up Action.

1. Maintain Consistent Consultations with Your Boss

A good boss will prioritize helping their people learn, grow, and advance. They’ll want you to have a plan and help you figure out how to execute it. You can reasonably expect that this is part of your boss’s responsibility and that they will follow through on it.

Unfortunately not all bosses are good bosses. I’ve had my fair share of not-so-good bosses. Some of them are just not tuned in to helping their people succeed.

If your boss is lax about meeting with you regarding your career, you have to be the one to request their time. Even if you do have a boss that proactively schedules career consultations with you, they may only do so around annual review time. So you have to be proactive one.

Ideally you want to meet with your boss every 2-3 weeks to discuss your status and plan and get good feedback. But if that’s not feasible, you should strive for monthly meetings as a general rule.

Many engineers only talk to their bosses about their career plans a few times per year. This is not frequent enough, and you should ask for more of their time.

What’s this meeting all about? What should you discuss with your boss during these consultations?

In general, you want to:

This is a simple formula, but it’s very powerful and there’s a lot here. So let me unpack it a bit:

  1. First, bringing your boss up to speed on your status and progress means filling your boss in on details and making sure they understand the magnitude of your accomplishments.

    Bosses are busy and don’t always notice everything you do. So you have to tell them what you’re doing and how it’s making an impact.
  2. Second, getting their feedback on your performance means having them tell you whether or not you’re meeting expectations, what you did well, and what you need to work on.

    Make sure you get all three of these – they are important for you to learn and grow. (We’ll for sure do a future episode on feedback.)
  3. Third, discussing your current direction will remind your boss what your plan is and where you’re headed. Get their updated input on this.

    You might consider asking questions similar to those in your self-assessment that we discussed in Episode 1, such as Am I on the right track? And Have I made good progress?
  4. Fourth, sharing what you think your next steps should be and asking for your boss’s recommendations will give you a chance to discuss those ideas and reach a level of agreement.

    If possible, the two of you should be on the same page regarding your next steps. That way you’ll get more support.
  5. Last, this meeting is a prime opportunity to ask for any help or resources that you need.

    Don’t hesitate here. Ask for what you need and want.

If you can consistently maintain these types of career consultations with your boss, it will help you tremendously. There will be greater clarity between you, and expectations – both yours and your boss’s – will be more realistic.

You’ll be much more comfortable with your career plan and prospects. And your boss will love that you’re keeping management informed.

2. Taking Follow-up Career Care Action

The last practice I’ll share with you in the care and feeding of your engineering career is Taking Follow-up Action, i.e., incorporating your new insights and ideas into your career plan.

After you’ve done your self-assessment and had that career consultation with your boss, determine what your action items are and follow through with them. In this way, you keep yourself challenged and you keep your career energized and moving forward.

What might these action items be? Any number of things, depending on your vision, your plan, your assessment, and your discussion with your boss. Here are several examples:

The trick here is to set aside the time to do your career discussion follow-on actions so that you don’t get re-immersed into your daily work and forget all about them. It’s easy to put them lower on the priority list, but they are just as important as your everyday job.

In these first two podcast episodes, I’ve presented a kind of framework for attending to your career. I encourage you to do your best with it. It’s not going to be perfect. It may take a few rounds before you get comfortable with it.

Sometimes it will be challenging to work it into your schedule. And that’s okay. Do your best, and you will soon and forever reap the benefits.

Let’s recap: Today we continued discussing the care and feeding of your engineering career. I presented two more practices, for a total of three practices for tending to your career on a periodic basis.

In addition to Self-Assessment, which was presented in Episode 1, we reviewed Consistent Career Consultation with your boss and Taking Follow-up Action. Then we examined what each of those practices might include.

If you’d like to focus in on implementing these practices for tending to your career or another issue you’re facing, consider signing up for a 90-minute strategy session with me.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast, we’re going to talk about the all-too-common career saga for women engineers and ways to avoid or interrupt it. Be sure to tune in!