Motivating career tips from successful SoFi members

16 Career Lessons from Successful SoFi Members

At SoFi, we’re lucky to have an extraordinary group of members who have navigated this whole ‘career thing’ with aplomb. From getting promoted or laid off to changing industries, members have faced whopping challenges—and they have the insights and battle scars to prove it. So we asked a few to share their best career tips based on their personal experiences.

Here’s what they said:

 On Doing What You Love

Career tips on doing what you love

1. Follow your bliss

“Over the past eight years, I’ve been a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, a pharmaceutical marketer, and a consumer packaged goods (CPG) design strategist. As disjointed as my professional journey seems, I have valued every chapter and appreciate the collective contribution to my overall pursuit of a meaningful, fulfilling career.” —Amanda Cassiday, Consumer Solutions Manager, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Strategy & Design Office

2. Find the right mix

“I’ve found that job satisfaction can be attributed to three major factors: industry, company, and role. Working in an industry in which you have a personal interest makes your work more fulfilling and exciting. The company factor can be broken down into a mix of culture, location, and prestige. And of course, there’s the role itself, which consists of compensation, duties, and team dynamics. While no job is without downsides, the key to work satisfaction is finding your optimal mix of those factors.” —Mari Corella, Director, (the ecommerce website for New Avon LLC)

3. Step out of your comfort zone

Exploration keeps us humble and porous to new experiences and personal growth. You can explore through travel, picking up new hobbies (or deepening old ones), and taking a job that’s ‘out of your wheelhouse.’ The more we challenge ourselves, the better we can define, refine, and pursue the opportunities we love.” —Amanda Cassiday, Consumer SolutionsManager, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Strategy & Design Office

You May Also Like: Want To Be Happy At Work? Here’s How To Find Purpose

4. Choose your culture wisely

“I worked for a renowned luxury fashion brand and loved my role, but the company culture was cutthroat, with long hours and little appreciation. Some people might thrive in that environment, but it didn’t work for me. Fortunately, I was able to find a similar role with another company in the same industry. The culture at the new company is a much better fit and has made a drastic impact on my happiness, both in and outside of the workplace.—Mari Corella, Director, (the ecommerce website for New Avon LLC)

On Climbing the Ladder

Career tips on climbing the ladder

5. Keep your manager in the loop

Help your manager by keeping him or her informed of your projects. For example, write a weekly email that recaps what’s happening in your area. Let your boss know about problems—and your recommended plan of attack—before word gets out to higher ups.” —Mari Corella, Director, (the ecommerce website for New Avon LLC)

6. Be yourself

“While adaptation and nimbleness are essential to thriving in any environment, so is self-awareness and preservation. Know who you are (and who you aren’t), stay true to yourself, and remain confident in the value you bring.” —Amanda Cassiday, Consumer Solutions Manager, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Strategy & Design Office

7. Be proactive when an opening occurs

“Managing a business while trying to fill open positions is stressful for a manager, so you might be asked to help out. If so, beat them to the punch and offer assistance. Not only will your boss appreciate the gesture, but the additional experience you’ll get as a result could help your chances of being considered for one of the open jobs.” —Mari Corella, Director, (the ecommerce website for New Avon LLC)

8. Learn from the low points

“Issues with a colleague? Not passionate about your job? Fail at something? Make these moments the most pivotal in your career. Understand what those experiences mean to you, strive to be your best self, and take control of how they impact your future.” —Amanda Cassiday, Consumer Solutions Manager, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Strategy & Design Office

On Job/Soul Searching

Career tips on job and career transition

9. Weigh your motivations

“Before changing careers, make two lists. Label the first ‘push factors’ —your reasons for wanting to leave your job; label the second ‘pull factors’— the things you want to achieve outside of your current role or industry. If your push factors outnumber the pull factors, try to address each before jumping ship. If you’ve got more pull factors, use them to anchor your narrative when networking.” —Jonathan Canaday, Social Media Consultant at Foster Nation and MentorMate

Related: How To Ace Your New Job In The First 90 Days

10. Have a solid plan, and follow it to a tee

“I successfully made the difficult transition from academia to financial technology by following four principles. First, I stayed positive and never lost sight of that fact that I deserve to have a rewarding and meaningful career. Second, I narrowed my search to a few targeted industries and companies. Third, I tracked those industries and companies using sources like LinkedIn, AngelList, company websites, and social media. Finally, I built connections to leaders and alumni in those targeted companies, and regularly met with them for coffee and conversations.” —Todd Arthur Bridges, PHD, Head of Research at Ethic

11. Consider working for free

“Lunch with a friend in my target industry led to introductions and two volunteer opportunities after a few unfruitful interviews. Ultimately, positions opened at the organization where I volunteered—so the effort was worth it!” —Jonathan Canaday, Social Media Consultant at Foster Nation and MentorMate

On Networking

Career tips on networking

12. Network in a way that’s true to you

“My networking efforts may not have been executed flawlessly, but I showed people I was ready to hustle and gave them insight into my values. That kind of authenticity is very important, especially in the startup world.” —Todd Arthur Bridges, PHD, Head of Research at Ethic

Recommended: Hate Networking? 5 Ways To Transform Your Approach And Have More Fun

13. Connect with your connections’ connections

“Networking goes beyond your immediate friends, family, former colleagues, classmates, and other first-degree connections. Typically, it’s the second- or third-degree introductions that are more likely to be decisive factors in getting your resume looked at by hiring managers or getting good recommendations.” —Philip Ballard, Director of Internal Communications at Ameriprise Financial Services

14. Find out who’s in charge

“Identify the senior people and thought leaders at the companies you dream about working for, and contact them in every professional manner possible. Make sure to do your research and know everything there is to know about the company and industry to increase the probability of having more meaningful networking conversations.” —Todd Arthur Bridges, PHD, Head of Research at Ethic

15. Talk to anyone who will listen

“On good days during my job search, I reached out to 20 people. I followed up via email and phone, scheduling informational interviews and mentoring calls. I also researched the industries and companies that interested me. That said, a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop can result in a job offer, too; so make time for that in addition to everything else.”—Philip Ballard, Director of Internal Communications at Ameriprise Financial Services

On Finding Balance

Career tips on finding work/life balance

16. Ride the wave

“For the first 10 years of my career, I was unsuccessful in finding work/life balance. I never spent enough time with my spouse and four young kids, and I was drowning at work. Then, a few years ago, I had a revelation: Achieving a pure 50/50 balance with work and life is unrealistic. There are ebbs and flows in both. On long work days, I have to make sacrifices at home. On calmer days, I leave work early to coach soccer, and I’ve taught myself to not feel bad. To me, it’s not about being balanced at every moment in life—it’s about riding the peaks and valleys.” —Brodie Bertrand, Senior Director of Communications at Aon Hewitt

Want hands-on help? Find out more about SoFi Career Services

From career coaching to job search assistance, SoFi’s Career Coaching team is always ready to help members realize success and sustain happiness at work.

If you have a specific career question you’d like us to answer, leave it in the comment section below, and we’ll try to cover it in a future post!

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