If you ask someone “who is your biggest career cheerleader?”, they may mention a family member, a mentor, or a teacher. However, unless those people are actually in your field and have a shared lived experience of the pitfalls of your industry, they probably are cheering you on, but without instructions on how to climb out of the metaphorical pit.
For example, my mom is among my biggest cheerleaders, but on my worst days she can’t give me much more than a ‘you’ll figure it out like you always do honey’ speech.
That’s when I turn to my gal pals, like Jennifer Jenkins, for actual legit career advice. I met Jennifer a few years ago through work and we instantly bonded. Largely because she was awesome, but also because we had the shared experience of being women in the trenches of a young renewable energy industry.
Jennifer and I were more than just co-workers though. We were more like action heroes in our own version of reality — kicking butt and taking names — complete with our own action hero pseudonyms that went over the heads of our younger millennial counterparts: “Shake” and “Bake”.
The best part of working with Jennifer was that I always felt pumped up after my conversations with her. It could have been the busiest, worst day ever, but one 15-minute jam session with her and I was back in business (and in a much better state of mind and a solution in hand). And I reciprocated that same pump up session with her when she needed it, because that is what action hero friends do.
Even though we don’t work together anymore, Jennifer is still the person I call on when I have a half-baked idea and need someone to bounce it off of. For example, this website was living in the recesses of my brain for years, but it was her encouragement that made it a reality.
The clean energy and electric vehicle industry is tough because we are charting a new path without any instructions. The chances of failure are high (and very likely), so we all need a Jennifer Jenkins in our corner to help us back up when we fall. Find that woman that ‘gets’ you. Someone you can trust, that supports your ‘crazy’ ideas, and helps you achieve your career goals. And be that person for them too.
The planet is in crisis so we need more women supporting each other to figure this sh*t out.
Amen, Erika! I completely agree. What you’ve written about is the reason that Malinda and Susan and I have been meeting weekly to cheer each other on in our work, and the reason we’re holding our Women’s Electric School Bus Forum this Wednesday. Excited you are planning to come.
*Alison Wiley**(* *she/her)*Electrification, Education and Equity Project Manager Electric Bus Newsletter (541) 295-0255 | email@example.com *”To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.”* – African proverb
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