How do you navigate this new world when you’re still lacking in experience but bursting with ambition?
By Ellie Hipps
I’m discovering that your early twenties are as confusing and unsettling as they are exciting and full of opportunity. My 17 years in structured academic systems provided clear hoops to jump through to get desired results, but the freedom of the career world can feel daunting when there is so much choice and so many different outcomes. How do you navigate this new world when you’re still lacking in experience but bursting with ambition?
Having started my career in the utilities industry, I was delighted to be contacted by WUN earlier this year inviting me along to a networking and speaker event in London. I was slightly apprehensive about going – I have very little networking experience and I worried that I might find myself awkwardly stood in a corner counting down the seconds until it was acceptable to make my excuses and leave. I’m pleased to say that I needn’t have worried!
WUN events are full of bubbly and friendly women, from all different parts of the utilities industry. It can be hard to put yourself ‘out there’, particularly when you’re on your own, but I’ve certainly felt the benefits of doing so. By meeting people outside my organisation I’ve gained a greater understanding of the variety of roles within the utilities sector, and I’ve recently signed up to have a mentor too. I’m hoping that I will gain confidence from working with a mentor, but I know this is something I’m already developing just from the events.
At WUN events we’ve discussed all sorts of topics, but I particularly enjoyed a recent discussion about life/work balance. As a young professional, you’re always given advice about how to propel yourself to success, and I’ve felt my heart sink when told I need to sell myself to the organisation for a few years to reap the rewards. This isn’t to say that I’m work shy – I love to be busy – but the things I do outside of work keep me happy and teach me skills that I use inside the office too. It was music to my ears to hear women with more life and work experience than I talk about recognising the value both add to each other and the importance of balancing the two– my Scout group doesn’t need to worry just yet!
Finding my own feet in the career world means crossing unchartered territory, but WUN is a good compass. I’m learning from others about what I can do, where I can go, and how I can get there. I’d strongly encourage anyone considering coming along to do it! If the pull of interesting conversation and friendly people isn’t enough, there’s always good food and drink to help the evening along. And don’t worry about starting a conversation in a room full of strangers, just comment on the great goody bag you’ll have received on your way in – someone is sure to agree with you, and that’s your conversation started!