Climbing the Ladder

April 26, 2010 at 7:26 am | Posted in Career Moves | 3 Comments
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Since I was in college I have been a frequent visitor to job listings websites.  I studied the generic listings sites and later added some specific editorial and non-profit based sites.  I used listings as guidelines for what I needed to achieve and how much time I needed to dedicate to gain the experience each position called for.  Job titles can certainly be telling.  If you are an “assistant” you have less than two years of experience.  If you are an “associate” you have two to five years of experience.  If you are a “manager” you have five to seven years experience.  By studying these listings, I was able to set career goals for myself that helped me get to where I am today.

Not surprisingly, my climb didn’t exactly follow this path. Yes, I did start as an “assistant,” but from there I moved on to my second job in which I began as a “coordinator,” which is basically another word for “assistant.”  Even still, this was a huge step up in terms of salary and responsibilities, and eventually I was promoted to “associate” after being shaped into a knowledgeable, skillful professional.  Each position prepared me for the next.

I also looked to the success of my supervisors to help measure my success.  My supervisors were all women in the their thirties with titles that included words like “senior,” “director,” and “vice president.”  I have been lucky enough in my career to have worked with such accomplished women.

I learned early on how to recognize when my opportunities for moving up were running short, and some advice I got from an old college friend has become words I live by: Never leave off on a bad note.  For all that I can control, I try to leave off on a good note. I leave before I start to resent the company so that I have mostly fond memories.  I have left two companies now and if I needed to call either one of them today, I am confident they would give me a good recommendation.  I also have a decent knack for keeping in touch.

I managed to get a new job in this economy that has taken me to this “manager” level.  I’m planning on staying with this one until I feel I have no more opportunity for growth, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

For me, climbing the ladder goes beyond getting the big title and salary.  That, of course is a goal, but for me, I want to continue to learn and gain more skills as I go.  The things I’ve learned from working are things I could never learn in school.  My hunger to succeed is aligned with my hunger to learn. I don’t have my whole career laid out in front of me. That would be impossible. But at least I have ideas, direction and goals.


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  1. Didn’t you call this back in college while watching The Golden Girls? 🙂

  2. […] strange for me to look back at my humble beginnings as I’ve always been so focused on preparing to get ahead for tomorrow. Sometimes, I beat myself up about not moving faster, but the truth is, I am doing pretty damn good […]

  3. […] age 21, I’ll learn to drive stick shift.  At 27, I’ll get married.  At 30, I’ll be at the director level in my career.  Much of this has been reflected in this blog.  I’ve discussed how these plans have gone awry […]

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