100 Ways to Stay Smart and Keep your Career on Track, the second book in the Smart Women series, is meant for the woman who is a rung or two up her career ladder. She may be ready to moveout of her first job, to change her position, or her place of employment. Or she may be entering her first supervisory or management role. The content deals with the difficulties of middle management and the need to manage both up and down, to meet new challenges and to juggle additional responsibilities. In addition, Stay Smart covers issues which relate to changes in life status such as family relationships, health and wellness, and financial security. It emphasizes that planning for the future is simply good business, and addresses the components that contribute to a successful professional career, and that help women become leaders. Self-development doesn’t end when a woman becomes better established and more confident. Staying ahead of the curve is required to be ready for the success ahead. Finally, Stay Smart highlights the importance of mentoring and supporting other women so that they, too, can start smart and stay smart in their careers.
Elizabeth J. Clark
Our first book, 100 Ways to Start Smart and Get Ahead in Your Career, was geared towards millennial women who were just beginning their careers, so we were surprised to find it had a much broader audience. One group was women who have been in the professional workforce for five or ten years. They felt the career tips were just as relevant to them as to their younger colleagues. A second group was the mothers of the young women just starting out. They told us they would have found the tips valuable when they were new employees, and they wanted their daughters to have an advantage. They also told us that many of the topics were still helpful to them in their mid-career status.
Perhaps most surprising, and heart-warming, was a conversation overheard between two women in their nineties who had read the book. They had both been employed in professional roles at a time when few women were offered that opportunity. They began their careers during World War II when there was a shortage of men to fill the open positions. They were, in effect, pioneers for all of us who followed. They noted that they had had no one to turn to for professional advice or encouragement, and that they faced many challenges. These challenges increased after the war, when they found themselves in a workforce almost completely dominated by men.
Fast-forward 70 years. Despite the trailblazing efforts of women like these, we have yet to achieve pay or position equity with men. There remains a disproportionate number of men in the higher ranking (and higher paying) jobs, on corporate boards, and in positions of power. Progress has been steady, but not fast enough. Just as the women from the war era, those of us who are well-positioned in our careers have a continuing obligation to assist and support the women who are following in our footsteps.
This second book, 100 Ways to Stay Smart and Keep your Career on Track is an attempt to do just that. It is meant for the woman who is a rung or two up that career ladder. She may be ready to move out of her first job, to change her position or her place of employment. She may be thinking of returning to school for a graduate or professional degree so that her goals are more obtainable. Or she may be entering her first supervisory or management position. The content especially deals with the difficulties of middle management, where you need to manage both up and down. It covers business issues which relate to changes in life status and the fact that planning for the future is simply good business.
The book also emphasizes that continuing education and self-development don’t conclude when you become better established and more confident. Staying current, even ahead of the curve, is required to be ready for the success ahead.
In addition, we highlight the importance of mentoring and supporting women, not just those who are at the first rung of their career, but those who are moving up the career ladder. As soon as you feel ready, we encourage you to give freely of your time and expertise. You will find mentoring is a rewarding and educational effort for both of you.
Finally, Elizabeth and I want to thank those women—from a variety of age groups—who suggested topics that needed to be covered and who encouraged us to consider a book for the next phase of one’s career.
Elizabeth F. Franklin
Writing our first career book 100 Ways to Start Smart and Get Ahead in Your Career was, in many ways, a reflection of the progression of the relationship between mentor and mentee. I met Betsy when I was a 21-year old intern living in Chicago and she was at the top of her career, leading a national nonprofit organization in Washington, DC. She took a chance on me and I moved to DC to work for her. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
We worked side-by-side for over six years, and Betsy taught me nearly every lesson we discussed in the first book. As a young professional, I was extremely fortunate to have found someone early on in my career who was not simply a boss but also a true mentor—helping me navigate daily challenges in the office and pushing me outside of my comfort zone to take advantage of professional opportunities.
Betsy and I no longer work together in the same office, however the lessons learned from our relationship have continued to inform my professional judgment and choices. Our second book 100 Ways to Stay Smart and Keep Your Career on Track reflects where I am—about a decade into my professional career—and tackles the challenges facing other mid-career professional women. These challenges are a bit more nuanced and complex than those in our first book.
Stay Smart aims to help women find their voice and become comfortable as they take the next step in their careers. Moving up the work ladder, as they become managers and directors, women face new challenges and additional responsibilities. This includes not only figuring out their personal career path, but also becoming a supervisor and mentor to others.
This book will help women to define their goals and take steps to achieve them. We address the components that not only contribute to a successful professional career, but also help women to become leaders. We cover a diverse spectrum of the potential issues that will require women to make difficult decisions. These include personal issues such as family and relationships, health and wellness, and planning for retirement. We also tackle some of the unique challenges that arise in mid-career such as setting boundaries with colleagues, managing change, and deciding on what’s next in the career progression.
We hope that readers find this book a helpful compendium to the first one. We enjoyed writing them both, and the positive feedback from women of all ages has reinforced our belief that women have an obligation to support one another as we start smart and stay smart in our careers.
Copyright Notice: © Elizabeth J. Clark and Elizabeth F. Franklin, Start Smart Career Center, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material with express and written permission from this blog’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Elizabeth J. Clark and Elizabeth F. Franklin and Start Smart Career Center with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.