Setting Your Career In Motion

After several years of experience, mid-level professionals get ready for the next move

on that it would be to her advantage to become as knowledgeable as she could about different areas of engineering at Motorola. She regularly kept in touch with other departments, quizzing managers on their expectations for their divisions. “I’m in manufacturing, and I have a background in development and design engineering as well,” says Okoye. She also constantly updated her knowledge on company procedures. When her current managerial position opened up, Okoye was chosen for the job.

Aggressive strategic positioning was Gilda N. Squire’s approach. With a degree in communications-public relations from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, she was initially disappointed after moving from Virginia to New York to start a career as an entertainment publicist in February of 1996. “The entertainment industry just wasn’t paying as much as I’d expected,” she said, “so I took a job I didn’t really want with Goldman Sachs.”

In April, Squire, 32, accepted a senior assistant’s position in the investment banking division, where she supported three senior vice presidents. “When I got there, I cried every day for six months,” she recalls. “I was miserable. I wasn’t doing anything I had worked so hard for the previous three and a half years in school.” After her first year, however, she became proactive. “I told myself, ‘If I’m going to be here, I need to put my skills and degree to work.’”

She sought out the head of media relations at Goldman Sachs’ New York office and introduced herself. They kept in touch, and when a position opened up, Squire int
erviewed and got the job, working her way up the ranks to become a senior analyst. But even as much as she loved her work environment and achieved professional successes, such as establishing a diversity marketing program, Squire came to a crossroads in her professional life and decided it was time to move on. This past summer, she took a $20,000 pay cut to become a publicist at Penguin Putnam.

“In as much as I had done, I didn’t feel I was really where I needed to be,” Squire reflects. “It was a huge risk. I felt I had to take a couple of steps backward to move forward. There are times when I feel the pinch, but I know what the payoff will be,” she says.

“Don’t give up your dream,” advises Gregory P. Smith, a management consultant and president and founder of the Conyers, Georgia-based management development firm Chart Your Course International. “Develop your goals and plans for what you’re going to do when the economy improves.” Put them down on paper. “Ask yourself, ‘What’s the bridge I have to put in place to make my vision a reality?’” offers Wilkinson. “Then identify all the people, resources, and sacrifices that will be necessary. After that, you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to build that bridge.”

Loren Samuel is building his bridge to entrepreneurship. Samuel, 29, recently joined Interior Architects in Los Angeles as a job captain, seeking a challenge from his last job, which

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