A lot of you might know me from being a baker on the Great British Bake Off this season, but I wasn’t only baking cakes this summer, I was also working full time as a software consultant.
I just wanted to share with you what I have learnt from working in the City, as a young professional and as a woman. I only have 6 years of experience and only worked full time in 4 companies, but I think I have drastically changed professionally (and also personally) over these years.
I would love to hear about your experiences and learnings and here are my top 5 for you:
1. Be patient
There are no secrets here, with no working experience and straight out of university or college, you are not going to lend your dream job first time around! My professional story is a little bit atypical, but what I have realised, is that you don’t have to worry, you’ll find the professional path that suits you. I first started as a temp in conference company doing some admin work. 2 months later, they offered me a permanent position as an account manager/ customer service representative. I stayed for 2 years and a half and ended up falling into the IT/ Software industry by mistake! I was then approached by my current company for a business development role. This was possibly the hardest position I have ever done, but the one that gave me the most confidence as a person. I became a Business Analyst and finally Consultant project manager, which took overall 2 years. It was very quick, and I am glad I was patient and waited until I was fully ready for a new challenge each time.
2. Find mentors
When I first started into the Tech industry, everyone talked about mentor and to me, it was more a buzz word than anything. We would be “encouraged” to find a mentor and reach out to random people. Personally, I believe you will naturally find mentors. Either within people you meet and bond with at the office, or across clients or networking events. It also doesn’t have to be set in stones and “official”. I have never had to tell my mentors they were my mentors, I knew I could reach out to them whenever I needed support. Your mentor will have dealt with similar situations, have more professional maturity than you and give you a extra pair of eye on your work when you feel stuck. I quickly myself because a sort of mentor for some of my juniors somehow ^^ I loved being able to advise them and mostly push them and give them the confidence that they can do it!
3. Be you
I used to think you had to be a different person at work than in your personal life. Well even if it works for some people, for me it doesn’t and I don’t think it is necessary! Working in the service industry, I learnt that people want to work with you as a person before than because of your CV. Sometimes, your personality won’t match to the company you are applying for, but that is fine, because another company will. What I loved about working in Start Up like companies, is how flat the structure usually is, and how you end up making friend with the managing director!
4. Support other females
This is going to be an interesting one! I know the subject can be quite sensitive, but let’s be honest, even if you haven’t read Women are from Venus and men are from Mars, you probably know that men and women are pretty different ! It is slowly changing – thanks to the amazing work of some cool communities like the Stemettes – but working in the IT industry means a lot of men. However, my company was half and half (I actually think at some points, the were more female than male). I absolutely loved working with men and also all of those inspiring women that are strong and empowering. They, like me, understand how important it is to support each other as women!
I have never, ever had an issue with any men I have every worked with. They have always respected me, supported me, mentored me, helped me, and it was always fun! However, I came accross women that were pretty much horrible to me, tried to take ownership of my work, didn’t support me, anyway, I’ll pass on the details. So please, don’t be that kind of women, and just be kind to each other’s, men or women.
5. Take risks
Recently, I have decided to take quite a bit risk in my career. I want to focus on something I am pationate about, and I feel like if I don’t do it now, then I’ll always regret it! I have learnt that there will always be another company, always another job, always another bonus to wait for before you quit. If there is something that you have always wanted to do, just go for it and if it doesn’t work out, you’ll grow better personally and professionally.
Photography by Jennifer Moyes
Hair and Make Up by Izabella Bordignon