When I learned from SmallBizTrends.com that women hold less than 20 percent of all jobs in the tech industry, I was shocked. It quickly became apparent to me that to succeed, I would have to work harder than most to prove myself, especially being a recent graduate. For me, taking on this career meant accepting the responsibility for showing women everywhere that with hard work and proper guidance, we can excel in any field. The stereotype of being inadequate for a role, as though our gender affects somehow reflects our abilities, is one I am determined to prove wrong.
To redefine what it means to be a woman in tech, I knew I would need a personal mentor. Some may call it luck, and others a blessing, that Intuit provided me with a great team and leader that would cultivate my talents and allow me to lean on them knowing I would be supported, guided and empowered.
It’s OK to Ask for Help
As women, we often feel the pressure to achieve perfection on our own. But the best thing you can do in any career is to seek help and embrace constructive criticism. As I began my career, I knew what my end goals were, but I had no idea how to reach them. I felt lost, discouraged and fearful that I would disappoint myself. I knew that I would obtain direction and guidance only if I went looking for it. In doing so, I was introduced to mentorship. At first, this was terrifying because the right mentor can sometimes be quick to point out your flaws while also giving you the tools to correct your actions. Setting my ego aside, I listened to every piece of criticism I received. From there, I grew and excelled because I finally had the answers for which I had been searching.
Power in Guidance
Not only did I throw myself into my work, but I also became very involved in my office. I leaned on those who knew my goals — those who were always willing to guide me in times of confusion and encourage me in times of doubt. There is power in guidance. There is also power in recognizing that success is not predetermined by gender or race. As someone who is new to the corporate world, I was lucky enough to have a leader who valued me as an employee and person. He saw a light in me, regardless of how many other men I was competing against in the workplace. He challenged my weaknesses and pushed me to find empowerment in being the face of the future, a face that is female. I am grateful to those who had the determination to see me succeed, I take pride in being their champion, and I am thankful that they saw my potential when I felt uncertain.
Be Bold and Go for It
In the spirit of mentorship, the following are five tips to find a mentor:
- Don’t be afraid. Growth comes from discomfort, risk and vulnerability.
- Make growth a choice. Realize you can’t do it all on your own. Help is not weakness, but rather it is awareness that you can achieve more.
- Treat your career like a jungle gym. Take risks, make the leaps, challenge yourself and ask for that promotion you want.
- Be bold and be brave. There is no risk in losing what you don’t have.
- Lean on your peers and your mentors. Different perspectives and ideas allow for significant achievements.
If you put a strong effort into attaining your goals, you attract like-minded individuals who will want to invest in your future as well. It starts and ends with you — so go for what you want.
Empower Yourself Through Mentorship
I continue to challenge myself to believe in my abilities. I could not have reached my goals without my leaders and team members who always pushed me to give my best. Today, at the age of 23, I still have a long way to go. I will always depend on those who are willing to invest their time in educating me and preparing me for the future.
Empower yourself with the tools you need to succeed, especially a mentor. Mentorship is an opportunity for an exclusive, inside view of someone else’s success story and strategy. Learn from them, trust them and consider every piece of advice they give you. The best way to thank your mentor is to become so powerful that you achieve more than they could have imagined for you. Find your power in seeking guidance.
Editor’s note: Read the other articles in the Tax Pro Center’s mentorship series.