My name’s Jenna, and I’m a senior inbound marketing coordinator with 2U, meaning I’m responsible for creating and promoting content and running the social media accounts for several of our partner programs. As part of my job, I ideate content calendars for the programs in question, write or source the pieces themselves, and then am responsible for sharing them with a larger audience to provide a public sense of what our programs are all about.
2U provides a lot of opportunity for growth within the company, whether in your existing role or in new roles that might not even exist yet. Because of this, I’ve been wanting to learn more about how I might be able to play a role in directing my own career path. When this year’s company meeting rolled around featuring breakout sessions on a number of topics, I leapt at the chance to participate in the Driving Your Own Career: Get Out of the Backseat session on Thursday afternoon. This session focused on determining how to drive your own development, learning how to excel and expand in your current role and setting your sights on future roles that might be of interest.
During the session, three tenured 2Utes talked about the ups and downs of their careers and what they’d learned from these roadbumps. I was especially struck by General Manager Monica Latowicki Rabin’s recommendation to build relationships and support outside of just your own boss, as well as to take risks and be willing to veer from your initial (projected) path. This is particularly valuable advice at a company where opportunities (for new roles and responsibilities) crop up whenever new partner programs are signed, and where bosses may transition to new roles at any given time making it worthwhile to build a network of relationships across departments. Jessica Wang advised the employees to run our corporate jobs like they’re our own family-run businesses; that amount of blood, sweat, and tears should be invested in everything you do. In my favorite takeaway of the day, General Manager Andrew Hermalyn drew on his own personal experience in telling those gathered how he grew up writing to CEOs and building key relationships that have helped him in his career in the years since. His advice on developing both mentor and sponsor relationships was highly inspiring; he recommended aiming for both “reach” and “safety” mentors and reaching out (cold, if you have no connection) with questions or requests for advice in order to get those relationships started.
I walked away from the session inspired not only to re-examine my current career path, but to find a mentor of my own. I’ve been wracking my brain for ideas on who has inspired me over the years and who I’ve enjoyed reading about in the press that might be a good connection for me to make. After all, as Hermalyn said, ‘You’ll never know if your “reach” mentors will be willing to instruct you if you don’t even try to reach out — the possibilities for guidance are endless, but only if you take a chance up front.’ Driving Your Own Career was a fabulous end to the first day of the company meeting and it left me wanting to hear more from all three speakers.