Tips On Navigating Your Career

Stephanie Gutnik, Global Head of DOOH at Yahoo and doctoral candidate, let students and staff in on her exciting journey about the evolution of her interests. From dreams of broadcast journalism to management positions in advertising technology, she has seen it all and was delighted to let her audience in on a few tips and tricks about navigating careers. According to Gutnik, these are a few main points your working self should live by.

Growth Requires Commitment

Growth is a process that often comes from putting ourselves in uncomfortable positions, as this is how we are best positioned to learn. I’m sure we can all think of an instance where we left our comfort zone and benefitted from it. Stephanie spoke about how her most memorable experiences and important contacts have come from situations where she put herself out there, determined and committed to expand her knowledge and responsibilities.

Similarly, Stephanie shared that growth is not just from social situations but decisions about job opportunities. People do not often talk about salary, particularly not salary cuts, but sometimes taking a cut can help us enter a new domain. By taking a salary cut earlier in her career, Stephanie moved from Sales into Marketing and found her calling as she advanced through different management roles. The age-old question “does money make you happy?” immediately popped into my brain as she explained her story (my answer is usually no, by the way). Pivoting and adjusting had a much greater value and larger impact long-term, which was worth the short-term decrease in salary.

Getting Involved Beyond Your Job Title

Getting involved beyond what you are paid for can be beneficial in terms of growth and expanding your horizons. Stephanie’s main tip, beyond general statements such as “be curious” is to get involved in company and industry committees. Volunteering your time beyond your job description will not only teach you new things, but will further your career’s success. You will become better acquainted with people you may not work with on a regular basis, which is excellent for future endeavours within and beyond the company. Some of Stephanie’s closest contacts and friends have been met this way.

It is essential for me to emphasize that you should get involved in committees that are of importance to you. If you are passionate about EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) and you are sitting on a committee that promotes those values, your passion will shine. Therefore, the genuine knowledge you emit will contribute to the progression of your career. If you start by volunteering, growth will seamlessly align itself. It is crucial to keep in mind, however, that no one is going to offer you added responsibility in the committees unless you are productive in your involvement.

Embrace Change

Stephanie reminded us all that people used to stay at one company for a long time, making it a negative to “job hop.” While it is still favourable to show commitment to a job/company for an extended period, it is no longer frowned upon to seek change when desired. In fact, employers embrace the different skills and abilities their employees have to offer by encouraging cross-departmental movement. It is commendable to explore your passions and to make your career something you enjoy – you are not superglued to a position that you are not keen about. To quote Gutnik directly, she urges everyone to “accept that extra project that you are unsure about” and learn if it is something that interests you or not. Either way, you will benefit from the experience.

An example of learning by doing comes from advice Stephanie was given in her final year of undergraduate studies at McGill. Stephanie was advised to jump into the workforce to learn about what she actually enjoys doing before continuing with her education. After two years in advertising sales, Stephanie was both accepted into a Master of Political Science and a new job in Marketing. She deferred the degree to work in her new role. After a year, she realized a MBA would be more relevant to her career path and switched course. With introspection and job experience came answers, which explains her switch to a part-time MBA that allowed her to continue working. She has adopted the same approach with her doctorate.

Truthfully, changes are hard. Uncertainty is a human’s enemy. Adopting the “embracing change” mindset can take the negative thoughts to a whole new reality; a positive one. But how do you know when it is time for a change? Is it a bad day/week/month/year, or are you truly looking for something more or different? Stephanie Gutnik explained that when you stop learning, it is time to change jobs or companies. When you stop growing and you don’t feel inspired, you should move along. This, for personal reasons, may justify a “job hop.”

Customize Your Career

Stephanie emphasized the significance in tailoring your career to your liking. It is paramount that your attention can be sustained in your job through something motivational. Take your passions and find ways to apply them to your job. And vice versa, where your job does not fulfil certain passions, approach them through hobbies and pastimes outside of work. If you are interested in public speaking, for example, you can find opportunities to present your work and your ideas at internal and external events. Social media can be a great way to build a portfolio surrounding your area of expertise or interest, such as blogging or a YouTube channel where you can build and engage with a network.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can attempt to keep up with business news through a few outlets, including a LinkedIn feed tailored towards your interests, any newspaper’s business section, and one of Stephanie’s favourites – TechCrunch (a Yahoo property).

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