Millennial Career Women Unite! 4 Tricks to Build an Epic Girlsquad

Millennial Career Women Unite! 4 Tricks to Build an Epic Girlsquad
by Kelly Poulson
August 25, 2016
Did you know Kelly Poulson is also one of our Career Contessa mentors? Book a one-on-one session with her to get firsthand career advice. 
Fact: growing up means picking friends who will help with your career path (not hinder it).
Today we’re embracing an Instagram cliché to talk about #squadgoals. But fear not, we won’t be covering supermodels or Taylor Swift. Because while we talk about those women often, we don’t put nearly as much thought into those we spend our daylight hours with: our coworkers, clients, and managers. We are women in the workplace, and it's time to start talking about who we're working with.

Turns out, those people impact you in more ways than you realize. They are powerful influencers, whether they know it or not, and directly affect how you approach your career and life. In fact, that subliminal influence makes it crucial to be a little more thoughtful when deciding who to grab lunch with or when considering company culture after a job offer. Your coworkers’ personalities? They matter. A lot.

Let’s talk about some ways to be more strategic about our crew to ensure that we’re primed for success.

Look For Realistic Optimism

No one wants to spend all of their time with a Debbie Downer, but feeling outnumbered by a bunch of Pollyannas doesn’t work either. Research has shown that realistic optimists may ultimately experience more success and happiness. Who wouldn’t want to get themselves more of that? Sure, if you can dream it, you probably can do it, but it will also take a lot of work along the way. Focus on the possibilities, but do the work to get to your ultimate goal. Start out simply by noticing the positive in your life and keeping a daily list. Once you start to regularly focus on the positives, your brain tends to notice more of the wonderful parts of your world and less of the negative. You'll also start to gravitate toward people who share your perspective, and ultimately, find your perfect squad zone.
Don’t spend all of your time with the same old team that makes you feel safe.

Take some SOCIAL risks in your workplace

Don’t spend all of your time with the same old team that makes you feel safe. You don’t need to abandon them, but you do need to broaden your horizons. Being surrounded by people who are familiar doesn’t always lead to new and awesome accomplishments. They may be genuinely nice people—that doesn't mean they help push you and make you better. If you’re looking to make change for the better in your life, sometimes you need to shake things up and find new circles to run with for a while. Is there a department that seems to be killing it in your company, and you’d love to know how? Ask to sit in on some of their meetings or reach out to their leader and request a lunch to ask some questions. You never know what those conversations might lead to.
Do you really need to hit every happy hour with the group who gripes nonstop? You can choose to use that time more wisely.

Make some (sometimes tough) choices

It may not feel like you’ve always got a choice when it comes to those you’re surrounded by at work. Sometimes, you’ll have to stick with the same team, but must you eat lunch with them? Do you really need to hit every happy hour with the group who gripes nonstop? You can choose to use that time when you’re not actively at work on a project more wisely. You can ask for more exposure to other colleagues. Talk to your boss about the importance of variety and diversity of thought. Express that you’d like a chance to work on a different type of project or with a new team and how you believe that will impact your ability to deliver not only to the organization but also yourself. And at the end of the day, let’s not forget that you can also choose to make a job switch if you so desire.

Find a posse of women beyond the workplace

Discover people who inspire you, then bond like nobody’s business. You can discover these folks anywhere. Someone who works in another role or department, heck, even another organization or a completely different field. You never really know who could help to open up your world. Build relationships with the people you’ve found (in a non-creepy way) and soak up all that they’ve got to offer. Intrigued by the tech space? Join a Meetup group of people who live and breathe it. Own up to the fact that you’re a novice but looking to learn. People love to share their knowledge and no doubt you’ve got skills you can pass along to them as well. While you’re at it, remember to have fun.

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One last thing to think about, don’t forget to be someone who people would be happy to have in their crew. Support your friends, colleagues, and family. Be there when they need you. Be honest and help them through the good and bad times. Push them when they need it. You sure want them to do it for you.
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What are some traits you look for when picking the people you spend time with?