Year Six

This June I am celebrating my six year anniversary with my employer. This work anniversary is particularly special as I was recently promoted to a financial advisor which has been the goal since I graduated college.

This past year with my employer was a year of growth. Some highlights include the recent promotion from financial planner to financial advisor, launching a new service offering geared towards young professionals and starting this blog as platform to educate my peers on all things personal finance (and fashion!). I hope to keep this forward momentum in the years to come.

To provide some context, my entire working career has been with the same company. Since college graduation, I’ve been working for a wealth management firm in the Chicagoland area. I started in a client service/administration role and have since then worked my way up the career ladder towards financial advisor.

With the advent of this next year as a financial advisor, I took some time to reflect and share what I’ve learned from being in the workplace and contributed to my recent promotion.

Keep Your Head Up

This piece of advice is two-fold. First, be positive and keep your head up despite the obstacles put in front of you. When you ultimately overcome these challenges and do so with a positive demeanor and grace, you to build your personal brand. I promise you, colleagues will be more likely to share projects and opportunities with someone with a positive outlook over someone that’s pessimistic and voices their complaints when things get rough.

This second aspect of keeping your head up has had the most impact on my career this past year. A few managers ago, I was encouraged to keep my head up and get up from my desk to interact with my colleagues. I am typically the head down solider type that takes orders and works until the work is done so this was a leap for me.

At first I couldn’t understand why a manager would encourage me to leave my desk (and all my daily tasks) behind and socialize. I thought it would decrease my productivity and lead to longer days but in truth, it allowed me to reach my professional goals quicker.

Taking a small portion of my day to talk with others in my office and learn about their growing practices and needs turned into opportunities to work with those individuals on those projects. These were opportunities that allowed me to expand on my knowledge of the industry, pick up new skills and take on next-level responsibilities. All of which contributed to my promotion from financial planner to financial advisor.

Track Your Progress

Something my dad taught me early on in life is to keep track of my accomplishments. He taught me this lesson early in life when I first started filling out college applications. It was important to showcase your talents and pat yourself on the back when deserved. I applied this lesson when I started the job hunt after college and continue to track my professional accomplishments today.

The benefit of having an accounting of your wins at the office is two fold. When it comes time to ask for a raise or a promotion, you have a laundry list of reasons why you are deserving of your ask. On the other hand, if you decide to look for a new job, having this list will make it simple to update your resume and prepare for interview questions.

Be an Advocate

Be an advocate for yourself and others. Easier said than done and starts with being an advocate for yourself.

The definition of an advocate is, “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” The emphasis here is cause, to be an advocate you have to deeply understand your cause and the cause of those around you. If you haven’t put into words your cause, I would strongly recommend you start here. I was fortunate to define my cause shortly after graduating college which has allowed me to plot my professional course.

Being an advocate does not stop after defining your cause. Once defined, the next step is to begin sharing this cause with your family, friends and most importantly your professional (and social) networks. When the people around you understand your purpose, they will be more receptive and understanding to requests and proposals that support your cause.

Once you’ve perfected becoming an advocate for yourself you can begin focusing those skills externally. As a young professional, I find there can be competition in the work place when proving your value to your firm. I find it more fulfilling being an advocate for my colleagues over being their competitor. At my firm, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with young professionals looking to create and follow a similar career path to mine for whom I can advocate. Sharing knowledge and rooting for them to be their best in the workplace adds value for the whole firm.

It’s Just a Title

Don’t let a job title limit you. Don’t let it keep you down or think small. Don’t allow it to define your value to your company. Don’t let it give you a reason to pass on a project because it’s not part of your job description or area of responsibility.

For many years I let my job title define me and my level of success post college graduation. I would compare my title to my friends and colleagues which created jealousy, anger and discontentment. Not attractive qualities.

The process was not easy but this past fall I was able to stop viewing my title as a limitation and measuring stick. I finally found joy in my workday and the interactions I was having with clients which allowed me to shift my focus from the title on my business card and focus on my daily activities and interactions with clients and colleagues.

I am looking forward to the next six years and beyond in the personal finance industry. I’m excited to see where this next step in my career takes me and will continue to keep my head up!