Career Tip: Got Sponsors?

In 2012, after a long career in the software industry, I decided to shift my professional focus to help others reach their career goals. My friends told me I have a unique perspective to share: I was a software engineer who was determined to have it all. I wanted to be a mom and be a leader! And I wanted to do it on my terms. Starting with my first child, I chose to work part-time and maintained this schedule for ten years. During that time, I had two children, kept increasing my responsibilities at work, and was promoted to vice president. Yup, I was promoted to the vp level while working part-time. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it.

Reflecting on my experience, I see that I made good choices and held fast to my vision for my life. It’s also clear that I had help along the way: from friends, peers, mentors, sponsors, and my family. I want to say thanks to those who helped me by “paying it forward” to others facing similar challenges.

I’m taking a multi-prong approach to helping people reach their goals. In addition to writing “Use Your Inside Voice” to share my thoughts on the intersection of leadership and parenting, I’m a speaker, leadership coach, and advisor for women’s affinity programs. I also enjoy being a guest blogger, writing about best practices for career development.

Most recently, I wrote a guest post for Global Tech Women about how to engage with sponsors, or people who are influential in your organization or your industry. Sponsors are leaders who know you well enough to advocate for you and recommend you for new opportunities. With their organizational clout, they can open doors you never knew existed. They could be the key to your career advancement. But, you can’t just ask someone to be your sponsor. You need to earn their respect! My guest post takes the mystery out of engaging a sponsor. If you think sponsors could help you meet your career goals, be sure to check it out.

Update: Engage a Sponsor is now available as a free downloadable pdf. It’s part of a series called Karen’s Tips. Each one is filled with practical ideas for growing your career and clear action items for planning your next steps.  — February 2013

–Karen

About Global Tech Women

It is time to think about the gender gap in technology in a new way. The representation of women in computer science and engineering has been declining over the last three decades. It’s time for something new.

Global Tech Women, founded in 2012, believes the solution to this persistent problem is to focus on the needs of individual technical women on a personal and professional level – providing them with consistent support from their freshman year to their entry in the workforce, their first and subsequent promotions, and their successful retirement. 

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