Chances are, at one point in your career, you’re going to face an obstacle. Big or small, from the hundreds of women we’ve interviewed throughout the years, it's the one common thread that seems to be universal. Another commonality between women in various industries is this: How they overcome each obstacle is perhaps what shaped them most as professionals. And while your current battle may feel like the end of the world, below is proof that with a little bit of strategic thinking and some determination, you can still craft the career you want.
From redundancies, to management, and finding dream roles in a competitive industry, below, some of our editors share some of their biggest professional battles to date, and how they overcame them.
Six months into what I thought was my dream job, I was made redundant (a week before Christmas!). I was confused, scared, and overwhelmed. After a few weeks off over Christmas, I entered the new year with a completely new mindset. I decided to turn my redundancy into an opportunity. I took nine months off full-time work and freelanced—I worked a range of different jobs to better understand my skill set and reset my career path. I upskilled, and eventually found full time work.
It wasn’t the job I desperately wanted, but the one I knew would give me the skills that would lead to where I am today—editorial director of Who What Wear, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and POPSUGAR Australia—and now I can say I really am in my dream role.
One of my biggest professional challenges was looking for a new job. I had been working at the same place for two and a half years, and for a long time I was feeling like I was ready for a new challenge. I wasn’t really prepared for how hard it would be to land a new role, but it turns out the media industry is as competitive as ever! I’m going to estimate I applied for over 40 jobs in that time, and went on about 10 different interviews. Sometimes I made it to the second or third interview, did all the tasks and tests, only to be ultimately rejected.
I had to try really hard not to doubt myself or question my place in the industry. The good thing was that it forced me to re-evaluate how I conduct myself in interviews and I learnt a lot. In the end, I landed a better job than I could have dreamed of, and it’s a better fit for me than any of those other roles I thought I wanted at the time. It just goes to show that good things take time, and there was a reason for all those rejections.
This is an experience I had before I worked in the media industry, but essentially, I was dealing with a leader whose work ethic and values didn’t align with mine. I was asked to keep secrets from other staff members when they would go against a company policy, and at one point I was threatened with a termination of my employment contract because I had asked for time off (I actually got quite upset over the whole issue, and once the manager saw, reneged on the threats). I knew what was happening was wrong, but they were my manager, so I was in a weird position (I was quite junior at the time).
In the end, I felt so anxious about coming to work that I anonymously contacted the relevant union with the support of another senior staff member who also saw what was happening. It got a little messy for a while, but in the end, bringing in a neutral third party was the only way to resolve it. I learnt to follow my gut, and always do what I feel is right.
I would say one of my biggest professional battles to date would be getting diagnosed with a disease early on in my career (it's all under control now) and learning to be open and honest about it.
I had to convince myself that I could still do my dream job and be good at it, while also learning to look after myself and find balance between all areas of my life. Easier said than done. I was told early on that stress and fatigue would make me sick, so I was forced to implement strategies that would keep me cool, calm, collected, and rested.
Looking back, while it was a crappy situation, being pushed to think about these things early on, has helped me shape who I am as a professional and in my personal life, in my own way. I think this will be really beneficial in allowing me to carve out the life I want.