Career Advice

I’ve had a tonne of career advice over the years – be the first one into the office and the last to leave; work hard, do not complain; don’t wear that; just be yourself; stop being so…like yourself, try to fit in; do this course/get that qualification; put yourself forward; don’t be pushy; and… “you should smile more”.

The people proffering the advice have varying degrees of credibility. I think, as a general rule, it’s ok to ignore advice from anyone who couldn’t make money running a casino. But also, I have an aversion to receiving pep talks from a bunch of privileged well-paid people who’ve been able to outsource the running of their households, had access to flexible daycare and leveraged intergenerational connections to people that have a direct influence on their careers.

The advice has been pretty useless, and relentless. Hence why I am hesitant to go to anymore ‘women in business’ focused events. It’s too frustrating and makes no difference.

The following poem was inspired by a conversation I had with my then-manager after I’d attended a “Women Can Do Anything” talk-fest.

Distorted career advice   
See through the silence.    
Hear past the distance.    
Feel alive, be present.    
Lean in,    
Slink in.   

The choice could be yours   
To open or close every door.    
Negotiating paradoxes,    
Escaping crude boxes,    
Juggling who you are,    
What you do, hide your scars!    
Jumping through hoops    
Running in loops. 
Too smart, too pushy    
Too hard, too cushy    
Too old, too young    
Not enough allocates won.    
Not well enough connected,   
Has interests (conflicted).    
Too short, too tall.    
Come on! Have it all.  
Keep the faith.    
Maintain your pace.    
Go once more for gold     
Use your woo, go for bold!    
Lean in.    
Slink in    

It doesn't really matter how hard you try    
Because the advice is a distracting lie:    
They won't let you join the club    
Go back to your place, "there there cherub". 
Photo by Adrienne Andersen on

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