The Best Advice for Girls from Women Who've Made It
It’s easy to envision success as a teenage girl; close your eyes and imagine where life will take you. That journey to success, however, is anything but easy. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a myriad of successful woman at the United Nation Foundation's recent Girl Up event in New York. Here are their top keys to having a killer career (and life!).
Find your passion
What makes you excited? What makes your heart beat faster when you hear it mentioned? Pam Sherman, a columnist whose words appear in newspapers nationwide, knows about pursuing your passion. She made the bold move of switching from a stable career as a lawyer to following her dreams to be an actress. “I would say pursue all of your passions,” she said. “Of course, be a little specific and discerning because of time; know that you are [at college] first and foremost to do well academically. I don’t think you have to do things to satisfy other people. Do things to satisfy yourself. Be smart about it, make sure if you need a day job to pursue your dream, go get the day job.” She also emphasized the importance of not getting caught up in the idea of success. “Your career path is not the end game. It’s about experiences and learning and being curious.”
Social media is important
We’re all victims of scrolling aimlessly through our Instagram feeds, but our social media habits are not a worthless addiction, despite what lots of adults believe. Chelsea Williams-Diggs, who works at Girl Up, says the importance of social media cannot be overstated. “I learn every day from Twitter, blogs, and different social media outlets. Use your social media to educate yourself and to keep up on what’s going on,” she said. More important than who you follow? Your own profile. Not only do future bosses look at social media profiles, but so does literally every person you meet. Michelle Bulan is an expert when it comes to creating a brand on social media—she’s the mastermind behind Perry’s Ice Cream. Her advice is to “understand who or what you are. What do you stand for? What’s your purpose? It helps to write it down with words or images, like a vision board.” Asking yourself these questions can help you stay true to who you are, on and offline.
Mentors are cool (and necessary)
Alyssa Belasco, co-founder of Flower City Philanthropy, says her mentor is the “person I turn to when I need advice or just someone to bounce some ideas off,” and cited her as an integral part of her success. Anyone can be a mentor: your parents, a teacher, a friend. Bulan said her very first boss became a mentor and taught her lessons that helped throughout her entire career. It's never too early to look for a mentor, and once you have one, hold on tight.
Your passion = activism opportunities
One challenge for girls today is figuring out how to turn a passion into a way to create positive change. Williams-Diggs knows the difficulties of getting involved young, but she understands now how attainable it is. “I wish I knew I had the true power to make change. I think I was a little pessimistic about what I could really do at 16," she said. "I wish I knew that my Congress people actually cared what I thought. I wasn't very involved because I [assumed] since I couldn't vote, they didn't care. But that's not true.” Whether it be attending rallies, connecting with your elected official, or giving back to your community with your talents, there are endless ways to make a very real difference.
Inspired? Here's how you can get involved in Girl Up, too.
By Morgan Awner, 18