Time Honored Advice to the Next Generation of Professional Women, Evolved for These Remarkable Times


Image Courtesy: International Women’s Day


In honor of International Women’s Day, MMC’s CEO, Marina Maher, took some time to reflect on what she would say to inspire the next generation of professional women.  What she discovered is that the advice is timeless, but how women act on it today is often very different.

*       *       *     *

You live in remarkable times, where the pace of change and innovation moves faster than it ever has before.  You are the first generation that grew up knowing how to zoom, pinch and swipe your way to virtually any type of information you need at any time of day.

What’s also exciting is that, unlike generations before you, there are so many more successful women to pass on advice, and for you to emulate as mentors.  It wasn’t that way when I started my career, which is why I’ve made it both a personal and professional goal to help other women.

As I think about advice to pass on to women your age, three things come to mind. It’s actually the same advice I would have craved at your age.  The only difference is how you act on it.

Do Your Homework

Your parents and teachers have been telling you to do your homework for years. What I can add is, don’t stop after high school.  Knowledge is power.  During college interviews you’ll be assessed not only on your skills, but on your knowledge of the school and why you think it’s right for you. So make sure you thoroughly research everything you can about the school before you apply.

When you go for a job interview, you’ll be evaluated on how much you know about the company, its culture, work and clients – and how your skills will add value.  And once you land a job, doing extra homework on your assignments will make you stand out from colleagues.

Your generation has unprecedented access to information.  Those who take advantage of that access are more often than not the winners.

Network Early and Often

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I’m still in school. Why do I need to network now? And who should I network with?’

Look around at your classmates and teachers – maybe even some of the local business people in your community.  Who inspires you, makes you work harder or ask more questions? Those are people you might think of staying in touch with after high school.  That assistant manager you meet when you were 22 could be the CEO when you’re 40.

Not everyone you know will be successful.  But consider this. Bill Gates started Microsoft with one of his high school pals.  And a little social network called Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his college dorm with a few roommates.

Say Please. And Thank You.

Your generation has grown up communicating through text messages or on social networks.  Often in acronyms or emoticons.  It’s fast and efficient.  But you risk losing the emotion – and sometimes the meaning – behind your message.

So here’s my final word of advice.  When you really want to express your appreciation, send a handwritten note. Send one after every college and job interview.  Send one to the person who makes an important introduction for you.  Whether that note is written on notebook paper or a beautiful store-bought card, it will convey far more gratitude than a read-and-delete email.

A final thought.

When you do achieve your goals – and you will if you put your mind to it – pass it on. There is no better way to show appreciation for advice given to us than to pay it forward to the next generation.  They’re counting on it.  Don’t disappoint them!