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Op/Ed

How your mentors can push you and to new heights

(EDITORIAL) Moving up in your career can be dependent on your drive to be better, but improving does depend on who you choose to teach you.

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Two friends in the office smiling and talking.

Remember when you were younger and were encouraged to join extra-curricular activities because they would “look good to colleges”? What if the same were true for your career?

While applying to a university may be a thing of the past for you, there are still benefits to having extra-curricular activities that have to do with your career. Networking is a major piece of this, as is finding mentors who will help point you in the right direction.

These out-of-office organizations or clubs differ for every industry, so for the sake of this article, I will use one example that you can then interpret and tailor towards your own career.

The Past President of the national Federal Bar Association, Maria Z. Vathis, is someone who has taken the extra-curricular route throughout her entire career, and it has paid off immensely. Working as an attorney in Chicago, Vathis joined the FBA shortly after beginning her legal career and now is the Past President of the almost 100-year old organization.

She started working her way up the ladder of the Chicago Chapter of the association, and eventually became the president of that chapter. At the same time, she was also becoming involved in the Hellenic Bar Association, and would eventually become national president of that organization, as well.

“Through these organizations, I was fortunate to find mentors and lifelong friends. I was also lucky enough to mentor others and to have opportunities to give back to the community through various outreach projects,” said Vathis. “As a young attorney, it was priceless to gain exposure to successful attorneys and judges and to observe how they conducted themselves. Those judges and attorneys were my role models – whether they knew it or not. I learned how to be a professional and how to work with different personality types through my bar association work.”

Finding people in your industry – not just in your office – can be of great help as you go through the journey of your career. They can help you in the event of a job switch, help collaborate on volunteer-based projects, and help collaborate on career-advancing projects (like writing a book, for example).

And all strong networks often start with the help of a mentor – someone who has once been in your shows and can help you handle the ropes of your new career. Most importantly, they’re someone who you can seek advice from when you’re faced with someone challenging – either good or bad.

“I have been unbelievably fortunate with my mentors, and I cherish those relationships. They are good people, and they have changed my life in positive ways. I still draw on what they taught me to help make important decisions,” said Vathis. “My career success is due in large part to the fact that my mentors took an interest in my career, had faith in my abilities, and supported me while I held various positions in the organizations. Not only is it important to continue having mentors throughout your career, but it is important to recognize that mentors come in all shapes and sizes. You never know who you will learn something from, so it’s important to remain open. Also, after you become seasoned, it is important to give back by mentoring others.”

When asked why it’s important to be part of organizations outside of the office, Vathis explained, “To build a book of business, you need to be visible to others.” She also stresses the importance of putting yourself out there for new affiliations and challenges, because you never know where it may lead.

If you’re unsure of how to start this process, try asking co-workers and other people in your professional life if they have any advice or recommendations of organizations that can help advance your career. Another simple way is to Google “networking events in my area” and see what speaks to you. In addition, never be afraid to reach out to someone with a bit more experience for some advice. Take them out to coffee and pick their brain – you never know what you may learn.

Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

Op/Ed

Gender discrimination still exists, even blatantly in job descriptions

(EDITORIAL) Surely after a century, we have learned half the population can work just the same as the other half right? Down with discrimination.

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Woman taking notes representing gender discrimination.

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady reported a job description post for a hospitalist from Ascend Medical that said, “women don’t do well here.” The posting was taken down once it was brought to Ascend Medical’s attention, but it does beg the question how something like that was allowed to get through two organizations. First, Ascend Medical didn’t proofread what was posted; then, ZipRecruiter’s algorithms didn’t catch the obvious gender discrimination.

Gender discrimination in job descriptions is against the law.

One hundred years ago, Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Federal law addressed gender discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For 58 years now, it’s been illegal to discriminate against women in employment.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone of any generation currently in the workplace who doesn’t understand gender discrimination. Unfortunately, discrimination still exists in the workplace. The Ascend Medical posting might have been a fluke, but Pew Research estimates that over 40% of women experience discrimination in the workplace based on gender.

Pew Research reports that women get passed over for important assignments, based on gender. Many women earn less than the man doing the same job. Women believe that they get less support from senior leaders because of gender. Women are three times more likely than men to experience sexual harassment on the job.

How can gender equality in the workplace be improved?

Hiring managers have to do better when it comes to writing job descriptions. Workers need to talk about gender inequality and address it with HR or other managers. Evaluate the jobs in your business and look for gender bias. Do you expect the women in your office to answer the phones and plan the parties? When you promote, are you looking at the strengths of your workers, not their gender? Are you offering training and mentoring to all of your employees?

The gender gap has been a thing for decades. I’d like to think that many businesses are doing better. But as the Ascend Medical job posting demonstrates, we still have a ways to go.

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Op/Ed

16 easy-to-digest networking tips

(EDITORIAL) Short-form content and blurbs are all the rage. Every social media platform has limited characters, so here are 16 quick networking tips.

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Handshake between two people representing networking representing the question technique.

These days, we like everything in bite-sized, easy-to-digest pieces of information. We’re so oversaturated with news, that it’s only possible to (kind of) keep up with it through a medium such as Twitter where we can get a brief news capture and see what’s trending. But even then it’s overwhelming, so @Ethos3 cast a net asking for networking tips – in 140 characters or less. Here are 16 of the most useful pieces of networking information the search yielded:

“When networking, inquire about passions, hobbies and interests, instead of asking “Where do you work?” – @DaveKerpen

“When you first meet someone, use his or her name a few times to create a feeling of familiarity,” – @CIOonline

“Don’t immediately send a LinkedIn invite to a new contact. Follow up that night or the next day,” – @RealBusiness

“Adam Rifkin a respected networker in Silicon Valley suggests: Don’t rush relationships; trust takes time,” – @Bakadesuyo

“Don’t attend networking events with a list of things you want. Arrive with a list of things you can offer,” – @LearnVest

“Need a reason to network? “Succeeding in business is all about making connections” – Richard Branson,” – @EntMagazine

“Once you’ve made a new contact, ask what method of follow up they prefer: email, phone, LinkedIn, or other,” – @USnews

“During conversations, focus on the other person. Learn what makes them tick. Ask, listen, observe,” – @ChrisBrogan

“Interesting people easily make meaningful connections. Be able to talk about topics other than work,” – @HuffPost

“The business-building “gold” is not in collecting business cards but in the solid relationships you build,” – @Forbes

“Offer to help people. “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity” – Keith Ferrazzi,” – @Ferrazzi

“If you want to go somewhere, it is best to find someone who has already been there,” – @TheRealKiyosaki

“Most people at events are in the same situation: they don’t know many people; they welcome icebreakers,” – @Steamfeedcom

“When in doubt, discuss the setting or the event. How? Do your homework about the event, and be observant,” – @RealSimple

“Take a friend with refined social skills to networking events to ease the awkwardness of breaking the ice,” – @Dailymuse

“Apply to be a speaker at conferences. Networking at the event is easier if everyone knows your name,” – @Ethos3

Now get out there and network your hearts out!

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Op/Ed

How home builders have adapted to the rise in multi-generational co-living

(EDITORIAL) Multi-generational living and landlord co-living has seen a rise in popularity. How are builders keeping up?

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Large house representing co-living.

Homesharing is on-trend in the United States. It’s giving younger Americans a way to break into the highly competitive housing market. Homesharing is often considered #CoLiving. The homeowner rents out a portion of the home to family members or even strangers. Co-living is not the traditional roommate agreement where everyone shares the living space. Co-living spaces are designed to be private, from a bedroom and bathroom to an entire floor complete with bedrooms, a kitchen, and other amenities. Some builders are even building homes designed specifically for co-living with larger communal spaces and larger closets. What’s driving this trend?

Multi-generational living on the increase

According to Pew Research, the number of Americans who live in multigenerational family homes has quadrupled since the 1970s. A multigenerational household is defined as “two or more adult generations living in one home” or a skipped generation, such as grandparents and grandchildren. In 2021, the National Association of REALTORS® suggests two reasons for multi-generational homes.

  1. Aging parents move back in with their adult children as part of caregiving, both for themselves but also to help care for younger children.
  2. Pooling incomes to afford a larger home or to rely on others in a potential loss of income.
  3. Adult children who never left the family home are continuing to share the home while they save money to move out on their own or simply wait to inherit the family home.

Pew Research says,

“Americans in multigenerational households are less likely to live in poverty.”

The financial advantages to living with others, whether in your family or not, can be huge.

Co-living has its opponents

A recent ordinance passed in Shawnee, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, banned co-living with four or more unrelated people. Ostensibly, the ban was to prevent investors from buying up properties to allow for more renters. The goal of the City Council was to keep the housing market from ballooning. However, the ban on co-living doesn’t prevent homeowners from renting to one to three individuals nor does it prevent multigenerational living.

Co-living is a trend to watch.

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