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Kellogg Faculty Offer Advice for Career Development

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If you want to develop your career, you have to take steps to make it happen—strategize. To help you get there, Northwestern / Kellogg faculty got together to offer five pieces of advice for career development, no matter where you are professionally.

1. Build Influence in Your Organization

You don’t need to be a manager or team leader to influence your organization. Power in the workplace isn’t about coercing people. Instead, it’s about “mobilizing political support,” says management and organizations professor William Ocasio.

To build this type of political capital, he recommends seeking out assignments that are likely to succeed to build your good reputation early and quickly. He also recommends understanding your organization’s culture, so that you advertise yourself appropriately.

2. Learn to Negotiate

According to professor of management and organizations Victoria Medvec, you need to learn to negotiate if you want the plum assignments and promotions. She recommends thinking through what the other side needs and then presenting your skills and experience in such a way that you fill in the blanks. She also says that you need to lead the discussion by making the first offer.

“You will gain an advantage by creating the starting point, putting the right issues on the table, and being the one who frames the rationale,” Medvec says.

3. Become a Mentor

You can learn a lot by becoming a mentor. Mentorship offers many benefits, providing insight into both an organization’s political environment as well as the effectiveness of your organization’s communication strategy. According to senior fellow and adjunct professor Diane Brink, mentors learn to understand their organization better, and they learn new skills. Sometimes, just by talking with another person, you can figure out new tools, techniques, and applications essential to your own role.

4. Look for a Second Act

If you’ve climbed as high as you can in your given career, it’s not the end of the road. Clinical assistant professor Ellen Taaffe recommends looking for a potential “second act”—a new professional phase where you apply your skills and talents in a social or educational arena. The key is to find confidence in your story and create a larger narrative that explains who you are.

Just make sure that when you leave your current professional arena that you don’t drop all your contacts there. Instead, continue to cultivate your network and look for new doors that you can walk through.

5. Take Time for Self-Reflection

There’s always room for growth. One way to continue growing is to go through daily self-reflection, according to clinical professor of strategy Harry Kraemer. He commends that you take time every night to define your priorities and hold yourself accountable. This is how leaders ward off disaster, plan for every outcome, and build stronger teams.

Some prompts for self-reflection:

  • What am I proud of? What am I not proud of?
  • How did I lead people? How did I follow?
  • What did I do today? What would I do differently?

Read the full article, Take 5: How to Take Charge of Your Professional Development

Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.