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Asking for career advice

Hello guys,

Here is a technique I have done over and over again: ask career advice to someone who's more advanced than you. It's easy: just send an email to someone more senior than you to ask for career advice. I did it today to the head of infectious diseases (woman). What is very important I think is to ask somebody you respect and is inspired by. I asked her:

  1. How she became so good: she gave me plenty of general but applicable advice in attitude.
  2. How to go abroad
  3. How I could do a 6 month period in infectious disease

My mistake is that when I told my story I also told about 1 failure, even though I overcome it.

My advice is:

  1. Be ready as you are for a job interview: I was not prepared enough. I would recommend at least 30 min of preparation and to be prepared to give the pitch about your professional life up to here. At some point, this will come up 100%. Say your life story with facts, emotions in a concise manner (they are short on time). This is where you can give value no matter your hierarchical level. If you have an interesting life story, this is value you can give to anyone. ONLY talk about the positive or if you talk about the negative, say immediately what you learned from it. Otherwise this will be the image the person has of you.
  2. Think WIIFT (what's in it for them): they always have some kind of projects, etc. You want to build a relationship and have more information about moving forward. They're looking for people to work on their projects or that can be part of their team. I know that for upper management they still see me as an empty dreamer. I don't have many papers to show up for so they think that I'm just all talk and I don't mean it. When she asked me what ideas do you have. I said I have plenty but I don't act on them yet, because I want to invest properly. To upper management this sounds like bullshit. So it's best if when you ask for advice, you think about how you could benefit this person. For me, in most cases I'm really looking for more information. However, if you have concrete ideas you want to work on, this is the time to talk about them.

All in all, asking for career advice is a powerful way to:

  1. Learn how to model somebody you admire and get inspiration
  2. To move forward by knowing about the pitfalls and what to do next
  3. Build a relationship with someone on an upper level
  4. To market yourself as a "go-getter" and craft your professional image
  5. Work on new projects
  6. Put your foot in the door of a team

I did it over and over. My main mistake is I move slowly about knowing what to do in pediatrics. So when people see that they see it as indecision. So if you know early what you want to do, it's better.

Regarding the attitude: I usually set the intention of building a relationship. Humility and is a must as well. Also, just answer the question asked. You can expand and should to build a connection. However, don't expand with negative information.

Something I else I just realized: the gender matters as well. If you're a male you want to show more confidence with females as they despise weakness in a male and show more humility with males as you don't want to start a male ego fight.

Something else that I think is important is to be selectively vulnerable. You want to find an ally, but this is still politics, not your friend.

On a side note: She also criticized the system. I shared also my difficulties while minimizing them. However, I learned that you can criticize the system when you're a higher-up but if you're a pawn, it's not a good idea. I just said that I like to do things in a different order but still. So let the rich and famous be rebels while you're conforming at the bottom. If you're not conforming at least don't advertise it.

I also realized this is the first "career advice asking session" since I learned about power dynamics. I can see how my mind is seeing it differently now.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Great stuff John!

And this:

The gender matters as well. If you're a male you want to show more confidence with females as they despise weakness in a male and show more humility with males as you don't want to start a male ego fight.

Something else that I think is important is to be selectively vulnerable. You want to find an ally, but this is still politics, not your friend.

On a side note: She also criticized the system. I shared also my difficulties while minimizing them. However, I learned that you can criticize the system when you're a higher-up but if you're a pawn, it's not a good idea. I just said that I like to do things in a different order but still. So let the rich and famous be rebels while you're conforming at the bottom. If you're not conforming at least don't advertise it.

This is high-level social strategizing wisdom.
All grounded in deep power dynamics awareness indeed.

Going to link to this from PU.

 

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you for sharing this John.

I have made these mistakes as well.
Not preparing enough and assuming that it is a friendly conversation.
I realised that preparation is half the battle won as you advised.

I also made the mistake of pitching ideas to senior management too early without understanding the office context and management direction.
As you mentioned, it is better to portray conforming to the system.
They probably dismissed my ideas because they felt that I was stepping out of line and were not competent enough to execute.

When preparing for these meetings, sometimes I hid in a meeting room to prepare for these meetings.
In political environments, I was wary of being seen as too chummy with a superior.
It may make coworkers envious and other superiors angry.

I did it over and over. My main mistake is I move slowly about knowing what to do in pediatrics. So when people see that they see it as indecision. So if you know early what you want to do, it's better.

Is this because, in pediatrics, you have to make fast decisions and diagnoses on the spot?

Not familiar with the general medical sector.
But I have noticed some doctors act with high confidence and give a really quick diagnosis.
They are not necessarily the most competent and give the most accurate diagnosis.

One time I was diagnosed with stomach flu when I actually had chicken pox.
The doctor was really confident and prescribed the wrong medication. All within 5 minutes.
I went to another doctor, and he gave a bewildered look.
Never went back to that clinic.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on November 27, 2020, 3:55 pm

Not familiar with the general medical sector.
But I have noticed some doctors act with high confidence and give a really quick diagnosis.
They are not necessarily the most competent and give the most accurate diagnosis.

One time I was diagnosed with stomach flu when I actually had chicken pox.
The doctor was really confident and prescribed the wrong medication. All within 5 minutes.
I went to another doctor, and he gave a bewildered look.
Never went back to that clinic.

OFF-TOPIC

Have you thought of leaving a public review for this?

Time is more than money, it's life, and since public reviews take time, I usually only leave reviews when:

  1. The experience was really good / the people truly deserve it
  2. The experience was really bad / the people deserve a negative review
  3. Because a warning can significantly help others

This seems to be a case #3.
I think people thinking of visiting this clinic would gain a lot knowing this, and the clinic itself, maybe even that doctor individually could gain a lot from a negative review, which could ba a wake-up call to change approach.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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