Speak up. Advocate for yourself. Be present in the moment.
For Women’s History Month, we reached out to alumni from different professions and fields to ask what tips they have for women heading out into the workforce.
Whether about building confidence, knowing your worth, or building a support system that pushes you toward greatness, our alumni offered some insightful and empowering advice.
Rachel Schromen ’10
Owner of Schromen Law, LLC
Make it a point to create relationships with other women that establish mutual professional support and guidance.
Authentic relationships, that are grounded in trust, can be crucial to navigating situations that arise that are specific to being a woman in the workplace, such as: navigating pay equity, addressing sexism, and advocating for yourself.
Speak up. If you have a concern about a policy or interaction, communicate it. If you are uncomfortable, state it.
In my early career I endured male colleagues making jokes that were sexual in nature in the workplace because I did not want to come off as sensitive and, as a result, I was uncomfortable. In reality – they should be uncomfortable because they are engaging in incredibly unprofessional conduct. And guess what – when you speak up, most of the time they are uncomfortable with being called out and behavior changes!
Put in work now to build confidence.
While it is not every woman’s experience, it is not uncommon that women have less confidence in their professional capabilities than men. I have made a point to do a massive amount of personal growth work around confidence and self esteem, and it reflects largely in my career and professional development.
Rebeccah Rudnik ’09
Firefighter & AEMT
Confidence is key. Even if you don’t feel like you have it… fake it till you make it sister.
Don’t let fear stop you from trying, and don’t let fear of making mistakes slow you down. Some of my biggest mistakes have been my best teachers.
Never take less than what you’re worth. Advocate for yourself above anything else. And don’t be afraid to negotiate wages!
Bonnie Clipper ’87
Founder & CEO Innovation Advantage
Develop a career plan to get you where you want to go. Make sure that you accept the roles that are a good fit for you and have leaders that will help to develop you.
Build your “council” or “advisory board” of champions and supporters who are a diverse compilation of a few friends and mentors who will push you and challenge you along the way.
Ask and accept compensation and positions that recognize the value that you bring to the organization.
Be very mindful of your social media presence.
Jolene Danca ’99
Principal at Winona Area Learning Center
Owner of Scrappin’ on the Ranch & Eupraxia Winona
The best way to be fearless and successful is to clear your headspace and be in the moment, wherever you are in your day, be fully present and engaged.
Accountability speaks volumes. Taking responsibility for the negative outcomes is just as important as the positive outcomes showing others you are willing to accept consequences.
You’ll generally find that not only do people not think less of you, they actually think more highly of you by your ability to admit error. This also happens as a business owner and being transparent in your decision making and holding personal accountability is important across the board no matter what role you are in.
Be honest and empathetic. There is no gray area when it comes to honesty in the workplace and in business.
You have to be honest even when the outcome may negatively affect an employee or customer. You earn respect in your role by being honest. You must also role model what you expect from your staff/team members and role modeling both honestly and empathy are imperative to your success. There are many situations where being empathetic proved to be beneficial in building rapport and relationships.
Kelsey Grachek ’15
Grants & Contracts Officer at the University of Minnesota
Don’t allow anyone to treat you like you’re smaller or less important than anyone else.