Sounding Off: How to Know If You Are at the Right Place in Your Career
Ismalis Mendoza, Principal Consultant for Maldonado Interactive Consultants reflects in the below Thought Leadership column on why a professional career has to be nurtured like an important relationship. Mendoza tells readers to ask themselves four key questions to know if they are at the right place in their careers.
A career does not happen by accident. It is partly a series of calculated steps along with luck and timing. I’ve always viewed my career as one of the most important relationships I’ve had in my life. I have to pay attention and nurture it. Just like any relationship there has to be a big amount of effort, compromise and learning involved. Your career just like relationships is very complex. Sometimes we tend to get so wrapped up in it that we forget to look back in order to answer the very important questions of I’m I in the right place?
Knowing if you are in the right place in your career can get very confusing. The reason for this is because your career is very personal and responding to the questions requires a lot of self-reflection. Some of us are better at self-reflections than others. It all depends on what type of person you are. Do you look in the mirror honestly every morning or do you avoid looking for long. I think that’s the easiest way to know if you are one of those people who appreciates self-reflection. There’s no set or predetermined path for your career. Self-reflection is the only way to figure it out.
The First Step: Reflection
The first step in this reflection is knowing your passions. Your passions aren’t set at the beginning. They are things you discover along the way. I’ve learned over the years that my passions involve numbers, analytics, negotiation, results, problem-solving and strategy. I would assume this is the reason why I gravitate towards media, marketing and especially digital marketing.
The Second Step: Acknowledging your Roots
The second step is acknowledging where you come from. I recent saw a commercial on television that stated “where you were born and come from dictates who you are.” I would assume this is part of defining who you are but it isn’t everything. When it comes to your career it does play a big role. I was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and lived in Puerto Rico until I was 10 years old. My parents moved to Woburn, Massachusetts which lead to a whole new world of opportunities such as being able to attend better public schools and eventually graduating from Boston University. This isn’t the only thing that it let me do. I have the great ability to move and understand two cultures and speak two languages. Acknowledging where I am from has lead me to understand three key important factors that have influenced my career:
- The first is that Latin American markets are very important and do effect what happens within the US general market.
- The second is US Hispanic market and Latin American markets are not the same thing. You can’t not market the same way to US Hispanics than you do to Latin Americans.
- The third is US Hispanics have been and will continue to be a consumer force to be reckoned with. I’m sorry to Mr. Trump and any other brand who haven’t bothered to learn about the point above.
The Third Step: Learning
Learning is the third step. What exactly are you learning? Is it helping you to grow as a professional? Growth in your job/career can come in different forms. There’s promotions, the never ending climb to the top. Financial growth is another big factor that we all aim for. We all hold the American dream near and dear to our hearts. This has lead us to believe that opportunity and money are the way to grow in this country. However, we always seem to overlook learning as a big part of growth. Learning is what keeps us engaged in our never ending day-to-day. It is how we discover and nurture our passions.
While at Boston University, I had the pleasure to listen to a lecture by Sally Hogshead. She had just written a book called Radical Careering. One of the biggest takeaways I got from the book and lecture was “Aspire to be the dumbest person in the room. When you are the dumbest person in the room that means you have the most to learn.” If you are the smartest person in the room run for cover and get out. You will be eternally tormented. Not only will you not be learning anything which means you aren’t growing but then you have to deal with human nature. You will intimidate the pants off everyone around you. How do you think George W. Bush became president? Besides the fact that he had a former president for a father and money, he was not as smart as the other candidates. He was less intimidating to Americans. It seemed like he was qualified for the job because he was just dumb enough to run a country. If you haven’t learned anything useful in your current job, it’s time to get moving. Comfort will always be the downside of your career. That job will become like the ex-boyfriend or ex- girlfriend you stayed with way too long. You knew you outgrew the person but you were comfortable. Your career will not be admirable because you stayed in a position or company for years because you were comfortable.
The Fourth Step: Appreciation
The fourth step is appreciation. Are you appreciated at your current job? Do they value your skill set? Do they appreciate you enough to invest in your growth? Do they appreciate you enough to allow to have opportunities? I’ve always prided myself on work ethic. I come from the Northeast and have worked in some amazing advertising agencies and direct clients. I’ve had opportunities other people dream of in their careers. One of my former bosses Tony Nieves of Marca Miami even appreciated me enough to let me hold and work for more than one position. I didn’t realize how important appreciation was to your career until I finished the World Cup. I’m convinced that a World Cup sponsorship will challenge everything in life. Executing a sponsorship in country during the World Cup has been one of the biggest opportunities I’ve had in my career. I will forever appreciate my bosses for giving me this opportunity and helping me grow. The only issue that I had with it is that I realized maybe I wasn’t appreciated as much by my co-workers as I was by my very confident bosses. See appreciation is a tricky thing. It has to be 360, if it is not, leave your current situation and don’t look back.
Knowing if you are in the right place in your career is very subjective but as long as you keep in mind that you need to reflect, know yourself, learn and be appreciated it will make it easier to figure it out. Don’t beat yourself up if you have read this and have figured out that your career is not where you want it to be. Just acknowledge it, formulate a vision or plan and keep it moving.
Ismalis Mendoza is a graduate of Boston University, Bachelor of Science in Communication. She has previously worked at Zenithoptimedia handling Hewlett Packard for the Latin American Region. Additionally, she worked at Universal McCann handling their online advertising initiatives for MasterCard, Texas Tourism, General Motors and Embratur, and the Hispanic Group as a Digital Media Strategist handling the mobile and online display advertising for DishLatino. She also was a Media Supervisor at Marca where she handled PNC Bank, Norwegian Cruise Lines and five Tracfone brands for the Hispanic Market. Additionally she was a Marketing Manager/Director at Ares Distributors a luxury watch distributor for North America where she handled all Marketing Communications for Hublot, TAG Heuer, Zenith Watches, HTY, Gucci Watches, Graham of London, TW Steel and Bomberg. She is currently the Principal Consultant at Maldonado Interactive Consultants.