Early Career

Leaning In: A How-To

stock_handshakeHow does one “lean in?” Sandberg’s advice includes finding a good partner and being aggressive. Here are some of her tips for getting ahead.

Choose a life partner who treats you as an equal. “I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is.”

Don’t make accommodations for a family you don’t yet have. Stretch yourself. “The months and years leading up to having children are not the time to lean back but the critical time to lean in.”

Realize that your career could suffer if you stop working for a while. “Women who take time out of the workforce pay a big career penalty.”

Don’t assume your children will be worse off because you work. “Some data even suggest that having two parents working outside the home can be advantageous to a child’s development, particularly for girls.”

Pick a job based on growth potential.

Stick up for other women. “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves.”


Here are additional tips that we’ve culled together that will help you grow in your career.

Choose the right boss. Many people underestimate the effect a boss has on one’s personal development and overall work experience.

Choose the right workplace culture. Does everyone show up exactly at 9 a.m.? Is “face time” required? Do people check emails on weekends? Are they expected to work during vacations?

Find not only mentors but also sponsors who will advocate for you. Don’t avoid senior male sponsors because you’re worried about how it will look.

Don’t just focus on one mentor or sponsor. A mentor could leave the company, change careers, or may not share your values. Instead, cultivate a network of people with different skills and attributes that you value.

Don’t be afraid to move on. Yes, changing jobs is time-consuming, uncomfortable, and often stressful. It can be difficult to let go of projects and relationships that you’ve invested in. But your time and professional development are precious. If you are not getting what you need or if you are in a company that doesn’t give you growth opportunities, it may be time to change.

Keep learning. New technologies mean new ways of doing things. Keep taking classes. In addition to making you more marketable, learning is empowering and confidence-boosting.

Ask for immediate feedback. Often times, companies offer official reviews once or twice a year so the feedback is often stale. Instead, ask for feedback on a frequent basis (maybe after each major project or milestone).

Read books. Reading about career development or autobiographies of people who interest you can spark inspiration.

Be systematic about getting what you want. Make a list of things you wish you had, and make it your mission to cross off one item each month/quarter/year.

Confidence matters. Sandberg says to “fake it till you feel it,” but what does that mean? Think about it in terms of someone who inspires you. Ask yourself, “What would my role model do?”

Don’t be afraid to ask for things in a job interview. The company may be interviewing you for a job, but you are interviewing the company for your time and career development. Make sure to interview your potential boss and colleagues.

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