The grim mismatch between the number of university leavers each year and the jobs appropriate to their skills means young people will do all they can to get one up on the competition.
For young women, there’s added pressure. Because once they get a decent job, they still have to contend with structural workplace discrimination, overtly sexist behaviour and a weight of social expectations.
But with the rise of feminism in politics, business and pop culture over the last few years, female graduates are now more likely to know their worth and seek out strategies for dealing with workplace prejudice.
Step outside your comfort zone.
In the workplace, you need to push yourself in order to grow, for example, apply for a job that feels challenging – you’ll surprise yourself by how much you stretch into roles.
As women, we’re not brought up to blow our own horn, but holding back gives more confident people a free pass to get ahead. So, mouth off about your successes, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
I’ve realised it’s important to own up to your achievements – don’t just put it down to your team, but put yourself out there. I’ll now think twice about how I introduce myself and the language I use to describe myself and my achievements.
This extends to body language, too. Confidence is crucial in every job. We all read and respond to one another’s body language.”
Find a mentor.
Having an older, more experienced person in your field to ask for advice and rely on for support can be hugely empowering. I cannot be what I cannot see.
Be authentic and know yourself.
Look up to others in your industry, but don’t feel pressure to aim for everything they’ve achieved. By all means, borrow, but live life your way, otherwise you’ll only be a second-class version of the person you’re trying to copy.
As a young woman, it’s easy to find yourself pandering to social expectations of how you’re meant to behave – whether intentionally or not – but this often means sacrificing your own happiness. You have to do what you love.
Find what makes you tick.
In being yourself, you need to be clear about what you stand for. I would much rather hire someone who’s got their own mission than someone who’s learned everything from the book.
Develop your interests by staying curious about the world around you – keep reading, keep writing, keep listening – you never know when an opportunity may arise to use them.
Follow individuals in your industry and reach out, so they remember you when opportunities arise. Be a contributor, not a lurker.
Be committed and persevere.
Even in your everyday work, follow through with every idea you propose at work. You can drop some projects if they’re not working out, but keep two or three. Some have to be finished, though, otherwise you won’t get anywhere. A career is a marathon, not a sprint.
Show gratitude and pay it forward.
No one forgets nice people. It will get you so much further in the end. Not only does it work in your favour if colleagues see you as grateful and generous, being kind-hearted to other women ultimately benefits everyone.
To work towards eliminating workplace discrimination you have to call people out for their sexist remarks and behaviour. Be honest at work and challenge people you disagree with.
Pay it forward instead by putting someone who needs your help in touch with useful people.
I want to try my best to raise up other women and celebrate their accomplishments as I would celebrate my own.