Asking for a Friend | Chapter Four
Advice from Babe to Babe
I still deal with this feeling all the time. I think what kept me going was remembering specific skills I knew got me the job I'm in. I try to keep a folder of "wins" at work—even little things—in my email to go back and see why I was the right choice. Reminding myself I had a huge hand in my own successes before this job, finding specific ways I know I add value to my team and literally saying out loud, "this is impostor syndrome," can be immensely helpful.
—OLIVIA WILSON, BABE #51
Imposter syndrome is extremely common to encounter when first starting out (or, hell, even a few years into a role). In my experience, focusing on the skills I do have (that got me the job in the first place) and honing in on those skills to be an asset to the company helps a lot.
Remind yourself it's OK to (1) make mistakes in a new role, but always learn from them; (2) ask a lot of questions and log the answers for future reference; (3) seek out a mentor and/or help from a fellow babe within the company and/or similar role who you can learn from; (4) research seminars, webinars, conferences, etc., tailored to your industry so you can gain knowledge and stay up-to-date on industry trends will help you feel more confident and better informed overall.
In addition, be kind to yourself and remember we're all learning and growing, and even the people who are in their careers for 20-plus years ask questions and get nervous at times. Don't sweat the small stuff, don't underestimate yourself and always remember each day is a new opportunity and a chance to shine. <3
—INA MEZINI, BWH INTERN
I still have those feelings but you have to remind yourself you got hired! A hiring manager saw some kind of potential in you, so why not believe them?
—CATALINA ALERS-ALERS, BABE #131
In my experience, establishing the “work is work” mentality has been effective. So, acting professional at work, but then outside of work, acting friendly. Having this separation has worked so far, as long as all parties are mature enough to handle it.
As far as manager/employee relationships, I’ve always tried to keep those as mostly professional with the occasional happy hour here and there.
—THAIS LAGE, BABE #151
I don't think you need to try to forge friendships with coworkers outside of work. However, if it comes naturally, then go with it. Some of my best friends are people I used to work with. While we certainly would talk shop while out for dinner, that's not all we talked about. These women essentially became my tribe, and I would encourage all women to find others who will support them in their careers. These are the women who pushed me to ask for promotions and raises, who reminded me I was deserving and who told me it was time to GTFO when it became evident I'd reached the ceiling at that company. They helped me strategize how to ask for more and helped me prep for interviews. I eventually supervised two of these women, but it worked because I knew them well. It's easier to figure out how to encourage or correct someone when you know how they best communicate. I'm a huge believer in getting to truly know the folks you work with, because the better you understand the whole person, the easier it will be to work with them because you understand their motivations.
I will say, I think it's best you try to hang out without alcohol (especially in the beginning). Booze adds another layer that can get tricky. You don't always say things exactly as you mean them when you're drinking, and it's easier to be misunderstood by someone who's been drinking.
—AMANDA HANDLEY, CONTRIBUTOR
I always recommend sitting down with the friend and having a really candid conversation. It’s important they not only understand your career goals, but also your boundaries during working hours. I have had times where [friends who report to me] haven’t respected my boundaries, and when brought it to their attention they corrected it.
Unfortunately, your role is going to carry into social settings. There have been times I’ve had to miss out on events or leave early because other employees were there and I wasn’t comfortable being social with them. This is something that, as a leader, you’ll need to be willing to accept if you’re going to maintain those friendships. At the end of the day, if the friend isn’t willing to accept those boundaries you’ll need to decide whether the friendship is more important than your ability to be effective in your career.
My experience has been positive. The employees I’ve had friendships with typically want to work much harder because they don’t want to disappoint me (and vice versa for me with them).
—LINDSAY ENGLAND, BABE #76
Volunteering is important in more ways than one. For example, if you don’t have a lot of experience in a role you’re applying for, it’s a good way to get your foot in the door. It’s also a good way to make you stand out when applying for a job where you meet all the requirements but want something that makes you different, like a leadership role (director/chair/treasurer) with a professional development group or business association. I include that I am an alumna of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute because it’s a well-respected group in political circles for its selective process.
—MARISOL SAMAYOA, BABE #65
More than just resume-building, it’s important for improving yourself as a person. If you’re more fulfilled personally, you will in turn be a better employee. In terms of finding opportunities, ask people you respect what they do to volunteer—or just good ol’ Google.
—JODY JOYNT, BABE #41
Until next week,
THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!