This morning I had the honor of presenting to a group of college women who are participating in an exciting, career development program created by Alicia Phelps Ames ( Alicia’s company, PhelpsForward, works closely with companies throughout the US as well as with young women from diverse backgrounds, at top tier colleges, with the mission of developing these women into successful business leaders. During my presentation today, this group raised numerous insightful questions that Alicia and I felt would be useful to share with a broader audience

1 – Do What You Love To Do, Not Just What You Are Good At Doing

You have likely gained new skills in work areas that employers need, whether they be in finance, sales, computer science, advertising etc. It is critically important to be looking for work that you love to do not just what you are trained to do. Along with great bosses and cultures that help you thrive, you want to seek work that plays to your strengths. Over the course of my career, I did change jobs, and I tried numerous new things early on – I was a retail buyer, sold gym memberships and was a phone receptionist (yes, somewhat a thing of the past). Over time, I finally figured out what I love to do most which is why what I am doing right now makes so much sense. I get to coach, advise, mentor and speak to groups about transforming their careers, companies and lives towards peak success.

2 – You Won’t Necessarily Get It Right The First Time… And That’s Okay

If you don’t have any idea what you want to do upon finishing college, you can still find a job; however, you may need to change jobs several times before finding out what you really want to do and what makes you happy. The sooner you start that exploration process of trying jobs, and learning what you do and do not like, the sooner you will find out where you are happiest. Once you find what truly inspires you, work will seem less like work and you will thrive in the areas of innovation, creativity, and commitment.

3 – Be Authentic And Sincere

Connect with people authentically. Do not “network” just for the sake of networking but truly connect with people you want to know. Ask questions about their lives, stories, and their successes. Care about them and listen for ways that you can help them. If you approach networking with the purpose of helping others, you will be repaid in spades. We must all pay it forward.

4 – Find Mentors

It is imperative to find mentors throughout your career. Reach out to people with whom you admire. When you reach out to someone to be your mentor, be certain that you have a clear goal in mind and that you own the follow-up and the agenda. Once you are employed, it is also beneficial to seek out a sponsor who can help you navigate your career within the organization and help you develop your brand.

 5 – People Work For People

You are not just going to work for a company, you are going to work for an individual. Be certain that you feel some connection with your supervisor. People work for people, not company brands and logos. Your direct manager is one of the most important aspects of your job. Statistics show that employees will take up to a $17,000 pay cut just to work for someone that they trust and respect. The number one reason why people leave companies is because of their relationship with their boss. “A good boss is worth his weight in gold, right? That’s what a new survey by HR services firm Randstad found. More than eight of 10 of employees believe that their relationship with their direct supervisor has a big impact on how happy they are with their job. That goes along with surveys that show that the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs is because of their manager.”

6 – You Are Interviewing The Company, Too

Remember that the interview is a two-way process. When interviewing, be certain to prepare questions that speak to the company culture and values. Great questions that have been asked of me when I was the interviewer include: how would you describe this company culture? How is that culture modeled or demonstrated in the company? Do you feel valued by the company? How does the company show that it values employees? What do you value in a leader?

You want to find the right job in the right company. As you take steps forward on your career journey, remember that it is just that… a journey. Your career is not a destination. As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”