Work and Money
4 Ways to Push Your Career to the Next Level
Starting your own business or breaking into a new industry can be intimidating. But connecting with others on a similar journey can make it feel more manageable. Monica Lent is one woman who broke the mold to pursue her dream, and she has some advice for others trying to do the same.
After moving from the United States to Germany, the 30-year-old software engineer started her own company called Affilimate. “I run a private community of about 250 engineers, which is a collaborative space for people to get feedback on their writing, and learn from workshops and expert guests,” Lent tells CircleAround. She also runs a community site called Blogging for Devs to help software developers learn how to effectively write online and promote their writing to a technical audience.
If you’re hoping to start working for yourself, or break into a new industry, here are four things Lent suggests doing.
1Work Remotely and Move Abroad
As many jobs are going part-time or fully remote, it’s becoming easier to work abroad. Lent says working in a foreign country gave her “an unparalleled amount of independence” and the confidence she needed to do her own thing.
“The first pivotal point in my career was relocating from the United States to Leipzig, Germany. Learning to work in an international environment was a huge adjustment, not to mention the difficulty of operating in a foreign country for the first time.”
2Find Growth Opportunities — Professional and Personal
“I left academia to join a startup in Berlin,” Lent tells CircleAround. “It grew from under 100 people to over 1,500 by the time I left five years later. Being part of that growth period taught me an incredible amount about creating scalable structures, hiring and interviewing, and leading a team as part of my role in a leadership position within the engineering organization.”
Lent continues, “Whether building a software product or a community, there are dozens of things you can spend your time on at any given moment. Focus on two or three of the most important and interesting aspects, and the other areas will grow along with them eventually.”
3Start a Personal Blog
A blog can be an easy and fun way to show off your chops and connect with others in your industry. “There's almost nothing that's higher leverage for getting your work into the world than writing online,” says Lent. “It's a long journey, but documenting what you're creating online through a blog is an amazing way to bring attention to your projects.”
“Hands down, the biggest rewards are seeing people succeed thanks to my advice or a product I've created,” she adds. “In every case, it's up to them to apply the knowledge or the data and make changes, but being part of that success is hugely rewarding.”
4Find a Boss Who Believes in You
Lent understands the importance of having role models in the workplace. She has been lucky to have had both supportive mentors and to have become one herself.
“Working at a growth-stage startup, where I went from an individual engineer to leading a team of 15+ people, and directly managing 10 of them, absolutely shaped my career and goals,” she explains. “Learning how to grow a team, team dynamics, and supporting people is critical to running a community.”
“This is the number one career tip I give,” she adds, “especially to women, interviewing for their next role: nothing is more important than your direct manager as a strong advocate for moving forward in your career.”