Performancing Metrics

1.16.2015

Jump Start 2015: Up Your Game at the Office!

Stephanie Mollison, Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce at NIC+ZOE

Molly Galler, Account Manager at LaunchSquad


Is 2015 the year you're going to sign that major client? Up your salary? Land that dream job? In the first installment of TBF's Jump Start 2015 series, we talked about organizing our busy lives. This week, we're discussing methods to up our game at the office and reach those professional achievements we fantasize about on our morning commute (I'm not the only one that does that, right?). I spoke to two dynamite Boston women, Molly Galler, Account Manager at LaunchSquad and Stephanie Mollison, Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce at NIC+ZOE, about how they got started, how they made "the leap", and their advice for up and coming professional women. 


How did you know that your career was what you wanted to do? How did you get your start?

MG: I didn't actually. My first job out of college was at a financial services company. I got assigned to a marketing project and became completely obsessed. I asked about how I could be transferred to that department, and when my bosses at the time said that wasn't possible, I began seeking a place to nurture my interest in marketing and communications. Once I got into the field, I knew it was right for me because I couldn't stop talking to my family and friends about all the projects I was involved with at work. I went into major nerd mode! 

I am very grateful to a college friend who offered to share my resume with his PR agency. Thanks to his personal vote of confidence, I was able to secure an interview and I was hired. I had to start at the bottom of the totem pole (taking a pay cut and a demotion), but it was worth it. At that job I learned the fundamentals of great media relations. 

SM: My first internships were in finance. I wanted to make the move to fashion, but I could not afford a full time internship at a fashion agency. I figured out a way to take an internship 3 days a week, and work the other days. Those three days I was in, I was totally devoted to what I was doing, and after I was there for a while, they offered me a job in sales. 

Tell me about a "big move" for you. 

MG: After four years in the working world, I made the decision to leave my B2B (business to business) public relations agency and accept a position at a huge advertising agency. I was shifting my focus from traditional public relations to social media content and blogger/influencer relations. In that advertising job I learned more in one week than I learned in three years at my previous gig. I found that in the advertising universe, people aren't afraid to think big. When people ask me what's the greatest thing I learned in that job, I say, "To allow myself to think bigger, bolder and braver." 

SM: I was working in sales, but was dipping my feet into marketing by volunteering on projects. For example, I begged my boss to work on a marketing campaign with Sundance Film Festival - I wanted to grab any experience I could get! Then, the financial crisis hit and there was a large round of layoffs. I was lucky to be left on in sales, but I had double the accounts and was handed all of the marketing! I never worked like that in my life - I was 24/7 for almost a year. After things settled a bit, I wrote up a proposal for my job - the responsibilities and goals I wanted to achieve, an outline for reaching them, and the value I knew I could bring to my company. I had proven my worth, had a thought out plan, and came to the table prepared to negotiate. My proposal was accepted!





When you see people doing _______, you think, "Now she is going somewhere." 

MG: When I see people taking ownership! What I mean by that is, people who raise a hand to lead a project, people who manage a team with confidence or people who grab the bull by the horns and pursue their passion project. I love to see people put a stake in the ground and say, "I'm going to crush this." 


SM: When I see people's approach and attitude about doing the work that needs to be done. Fashion can seem like a very glamorous job, but in fact there are a lot of very day-to-day projects that need to be done, but done well (steaming garments, organizing, packing and unpacking shoots, inventory, etc...). I always look for someone with a can-do, positive attitude, someone who believes in saying "yes". When I see someone I can count on to do the job well, I know she is going somewhere. 


Imagine you are starting out all over again. What do you know now that you wish you knew then?


MG: You have to be your own best advocate. You can't assume that others will tout your work or vouch for your expertise. Each day you have to think about what you are adding to your team and your client's business and be sure to vocalize and share that. 


SM: I would tell my younger self to be more patient. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. If a position, path or industry resonates with you, get in there any way you can. Six months or a year with a pay cut is so short, if it allows you to get in the field you love. Get in there, and do the best work you can do. You will be rewarded for it. 


I would also remind myself that it is OK if I don't know everything. It's OK to ask questions! I never pretend to know more than I do; if I don't know the answer, I tell the person I will get back to them, and then I find the answer. I remind myself that my company believes in me, and make sure that I am always learning. 


What's one simple thing someone could do tomorrow to help boost their career?


MG: Update your LinkedIn profile. I can't tell you the number of great, talented people I have met through LinkedIn. Having an up to date profile that lists what you are currently working on and what you are interested in will help you connect with people from multiple industries and backgrounds. Editing that summary at the top of your profile is 30 minutes well spent. 


SM: If there are any opportunities to work outside of your scope, take them. Any chance you have to work across departments or gain experience in something new is golden. When I first started working in e-commerce, I didn't know it. So I learned! I read everything I could get my hands on, I attended conferences and webinars, anything I could do to soak up more information. I worked at an Italian company, but didn't speak any Italian, so I started taking classes. Be a "yes" person. 


What are the best investments someone can make for their career?


MG: Finding a mentor and maintaining that relationship. I've been very lucky that in each of the places I have worked, I have connected with people higher up in the ranks who were willing to grab coffee with me, serve as a gut check when I needed it or help me rehearse for difficult conversations. Their advice and guidance has helped shape me into the person I've become as both a team member and a manager. I'd also suggest making time to network. "Networking" is such a loaded word, but what I mean by that is to carve out time to have lunch with someone - a friend who just started a new job in your industry, a fellow alum from your college who just moved to your city, a person you met at an industry happy hour - people who may become very powerful connections for you later in your career. You never know who is going to help bridge a critical gap for you, so accept all the networking invitations you receive. 


SM: Networking is definitely key. I know it's uncomfortable for many people - try not to think about it as "networking". We all like learning about people and new ideas. If you are in an industry you love, you'll enjoy meeting other people who are in that industry. Understand that the person you are meeting is just a person like you, even if they hold a very high rank. See someone at an event that you want to meet but you don't have an introduction or opening? Walk up to them, introduce yourself, and comment about something happening in your industry, mention something they have said in a panel or newspaper article, or simply just say that you'd like to introduce yourself. 








How do you know when you are ready to "make the leap" to a new position / role?

MG: Don't let your complaints of your current position be your driving factor - if you are motivated by your gripes, rather than your passion, it won't be a good fit. You'll know you are ready when you start to feel more excited about the idea of the new opportunity than you do about coming into your current job every day. Once you start to feel that mental liberation, there's no turning back.

SM: You'll feel like you are ready to be in the driver's seat, ready to have your voice heard. You'll absolutely feel some nervousness, but in your gut, you'll know that you can do it. Don't be afraid to take risks! When I came to NIC+ZOE, I hadn't originally been looking for a new position. But through my network, the opportunity arose, and I knew I had the chance to do something different in my career and in my life (I moved from New York to Boston). Even if I had some cold feet, I knew it was a career moment for me. I've been here 2 and a half years now, and it was absolutely the right choice. I'm very happy. 

Interested in learning more about how to jump start your career? Check out these upcoming classes at Society of Grownups in Brookline:

Freelance is easy, right? Some business cards and a laptop and you're all set? Not really. Before you quit your job, learn the ins and outs to see if freelancing is really right for you.

When it comes to selling ourselves to a hiring manager, we don't hold back. But when it comes to negotiating a salary, many of us freeze. Why? We're simply not prepared. Join this class and be prepared the next time you need to ask for more.

Whether it's ditching the 9-5 to become a skydiving instructor or leaving the tech world to teach science, it's important to figure out what matters to you before you make your next career move.

Be sure to check out the other posts in TBF's Jump Start 2015 series: 
Get Organized
Start Your Own Business
Get Involved

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