Career advancement can come in many forms. Today, many younger workers are changing jobs more frequently in order to get ahead. According to a recent Gallup poll, 21 percent of millennials have switched their jobs within the past year, and only half of millennials strongly agree that they want to work at their same company one year from the present.
While you may want to follow this trend, you can also take a more straightforward and traditional approach when it comes to how to advance your career. You can seek out entry-level positions and opportunities for advancement at a company, work at that company for years, earn promotions, work extremely hard, and eventually make your way to the top.
That’s precisely what Bethany Babcock, M.B.A, principal, founder and co-owner of Foresite, a full-service brokerage firm specializing in retail properties in Texas, did. When she was 18, Babcock started as a temporary administrative worker at a firm. Upon graduation, at age 22, she was in management and responsible for $30 million in real estate assets.
LiveCareer recently spoke with Babcock about how to progress at work, and what her career journey looked like from the beginning to where she is today.
LiveCareer (LC): How did you land your first position?
Bethany Babcock (BB): When I was 18, I was living on my own and needed a full-time job. A temp agency sent me to fill in for an admin at a commercial real estate investor’s office.
LC: How long were you at the company?
BB: I was with the company a total of six years.
LC: What did you do to advance your career?
BB: I did whatever I could to make my bosses’ lives easier. If they mentioned they would like to see a certain report, research this or that, or even organize some files, I would work late and off the clock to get it done. I was promoted for the first time a year and a half later after applying for the same position and being turned down twice before. I was promoted again two years later. By the time I graduated from college, I was managing 750,000 square feet of office space and retail shopping centers as well as the staff associated with those properties.
LC: What are some challenges of moving up the ladder? What are the rewards?
BB: For me, the biggest challenge was my age and lack of experience and education. I had to learn to mature and develop emotional intelligence to navigate the professional world. I think self-awareness of those shortcomings is important, [and] not to make them an excuse but instead view them as an opportunity to improve.
LC: Are you glad your career turned out this way, or would you have done it differently?
BB: Absolutely. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that all the extra work was worth it.
LC: How did it get you to where you are today?
BB: After being in the industry a little over 10 years, I developed a client base that began to express their needs. I used that as an opportunity to start a new firm to cater to those needs.
LC: Do you have any specific tips for people who want to know how to move up in a company?
BB: View your job description as the minimum requirements and a starting point. Automate your existing job and processes so you can free up time to add more value every chance you can get.
LC: Any advice for recent grads who want to be as successful as you? For example, should they stay in positions longer or move from company to company?
BB: I would stay in your first job (in your desired industry) for at least five years. That will give you plenty of time to earn a promotion and additional responsibility, which sets the tone for your resume for years to come. People love to hire those who have been promoted rather than just gained a higher position by bouncing around. For the first 10 years out of college, ignore the paycheck. Focus instead on what the position can do for your resume.
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