It’s official: millennials have already surpassed the number of Gen Xers in the workplace. By 2025, millennials (those born during or after the 1980s) will account for roughly 75% of the workforce. More than half of that number will be millennial women.
Are you one of the millions of millennial women who will be starting your career this year? If so, here’s some advice for young women entering the workforce for the first time:
Tip #1 – How to ensure your career advancement
What are your long-term career goals? Whether you plan to climb the corporate ladder or run your own business, it can be helpful to find a mentor. Think of a mentor as a loyal, wise advisor who will offer advice, answer your questions, cheer you on, and steer you towards a path of long-term success. If you live in the United States, your local small business association can help recommend mentors for starting a business. If you work for someone else, you can probably find a trusted colleague or coworker who is willing to mentor you.
Remember to take advantage of available resources. If you can’t afford an opportunity, get creative. The Silver Spoon Foundation, for instance, is a nonprofit providing peer-funded scholarships to “young and driven” millennials looking to attend career advancement conferences and networking events throughout the United States. Some conferences, like Emerging Women, offer free attendance in exchange for volunteering your time to help with the annual event.
Tip #2 – How to navigate sexism in the workplace
If, at some point, you encounter the almost inevitable sexism in your career, there are ways to handle it like a (lady) boss. Remember that sexism is usually subtle. Even the most family-friendly and forward-thinking organizations might occasionally hire people who engage in sexist behaviors. And sometimes, even the most progressive and well-meaning co-workers might accidentally make an unintentionally insensitive statement.
Fighting sexist comments doesn’t always mean you have to boldly call someone out or report them to human resources. Sometimes, it can mean calmly educating them with the facts. According to Huffington Post writer, Emma Gray, “Statistics can be your verbal karate. Anytime somebody tries to argue against this stuff, I just try to hit them with data.”
If it would be helpful to have some support during this process, find a Feminist Fight Club or a group of trusted business women you can turn to in your local area. (Pro tip: if there isn’t a group like this in your area? Start one! If you can’t get people to meet in person, Facebook groups can work wonders!)
Tip #3 – How to crack the ever-present glass ceiling
There is a definite pay gap between men versus women working the same job. Luckily, millennial women face less of a wage gap than women of any previous generation. You can continue this positive trend by asking for more money, practicing assertiveness, and being open to negotiating pay. You can further work to crack the ever-present glass ceiling by climbing the corporate ladder to earn a leadership position in your company. Or better yet – you can branch out as an entrepreneur and start your own company.
It’s an exciting time to be a millennial woman. As you enter the workforce, you are starting your career during a time when your generation is redefining what it means to “have it all.” You can choose whether you want to work for the institution or work for yourself. You can choose what your work-life balance looks like. You can even redefine gender roles in the workplace and show the world what it really means to be a “lady boss” in 2017. What groundbreaking things will you accomplish in your career this year? Only time will tell, but if you’re reading this article, then you’re clearly motivated and are probably off to a good start.
- Dean Burgess (Guest Post Contributor)