Someone that I work with has asked me if I would like to present with him at an event later this year. I was quite surprised when he asked as he is a very successful, late-50s-year-old man, and I’m only in my 20’s, still trying to come to grips with the system. I’ve spoken in meetings, but he has never seen me present anything before.
I feel like this could be an amazing opportunity for me as it would get me noticed in the company and could lead to great things. However, I’m a little worried that there could be an ulterior motive behind this. I feel terrible saying it but I just don’t know why he would want to work with me. I’m intelligent, but he could easily do it himself. And I’m a little worried as it will mean we will have to be alone together.
I’ve never gotten a creepy vibe from him, but, well, you know… He isn’t married and I’ve been told he had a bit of a reputation in his younger years. I guess that could just be a rumor, though?
What do you think? Should I go for it, or politely decline?
-A Virgin to “Pretty Privilege”
Dear “Virgin to Pretty Privilege,”
Ahhh… Career decisions that make you wonder if you’re becoming “the type of woman who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong,” as Mae described ‘em in “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols,” lol. Well, fret not, my friend, for you’ve come to the right place. From my first job out of college to, well, er, more recent stuff, I’ve learned both the easy and hard way when to take advantage of “pretty privilege” – (that’s privileges you get for being pretty, to all you newcomers) – and here’s my two cents on your dilemma.
Question: Should you take an assignment you may have gotten due to “pretty privilege?” Answer: Heeelllllllls yeah… IF:
(1) You can do the job really well. An open door is great, but being qualified to stay in the room is a whole other story. You don’t get too many shots to show your competence to a group of people before you have to pick up, move cross-country, and try your luck elsewhere. So, if you’re confident that you’re prepared to handle the challenge, seize it. It’s a moment you’ve been waiting for.
(2) You can stay focused on your goals. Remember what you came for, and what you want to get out of the opportunity. And don’t let another’s agenda overtake yours once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, (which can easily happen when we feel like we owe someone for their “favor.”) If someone, even someone who’s opened a door for you, has plans for your life that don’t jive with yours – (like, say, their bleep in your bleep) – disassociate yourself from him or her. The only thing you need to do on your way to achieving all your pretty, little heart’s desires is to stay true to who you are.
Lastly, don’t short-change yourself. Everyone has something “God-given” that will open some doors for them. It could be a big brain, a well-connected family, charisma, good looks, a sympathetic situation, some random thing in common with a gate-keeper, or any combination of the above. At the end of the day, your success in life will be largely dependent on all the good decisions you make, and all the inspired actions you take. Without those you wouldn’t even be in a position to take advantage of the “good cards” you’re dealt.
So, “Virgin to Pretty Privilege,” my advice is to use all the cards you’ve been dealt, including your pretty one, without apology. For life comes with its own inherent set of complications, so when it throws you an “easy” bone, take it. Best of luck.
Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.