Lessons I Learned on Wall Street – Part 2: Don’t be Afraid to Ask for What You Want

I grew up in a house full of opinionated people. In our house, everyone had an opinion. About everything. And we always shared our opinions. If my sister told me her opinion about something, I would tell her mine and it was a free and clear exchange of ideas. There were six of us, which meant there were likely to be six opinions on just about any topic. We rarely (if ever) agreed on anything, but that just made the discussion all the livelier. And I thought this was normal.

Over time, I’ve learned that my communication style is the exception and not the rule. In fact, it’s created a few speed bumps for me. I had a supervisor in college who was offended because she thought I was telling her how to do her job, and it has taken me years (literally) to teach my husband that when I state my opinion it actually means that I want to hear his in return.

Fortunately for me, this is exactly the kind of trait that helps you survive and thrive on Wall Street. Not only are opinions accepted, but they are expected. If you don’t have an opinion people assume it’s either because you’re not smart enough to think through the issues and decide where you stand, or that you don’t have a bold enough personality to succeed in the industry.

The longer I worked in finance, the bolder I became in offering my opinions, especially as I developed the knowledge base to back them up. And the bolder I became at offering my opinions, the bolder I became at speaking up in general. I began offering to work on projects I was interested in and volunteering to take care of tasks no one else wanted to do. And I learned a valuable lesson…

Lesson #2 – Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.

When I started asking for the work I wanted to do, I was surprised at how often people said yes. In fact, I would guess that 80% of the time I was afforded an opportunity just by indicating that I was interested. I had input on several new HR policies, I helped revise offer letter templates, I attended meetings with important managers from every area of the business, and I was involved with employee performance reviews.  These were real tasks that effected real change in my organization. They also affected real people’s lives.

Not only did I get to influence the environment I worked in, but I gained valuable experience. At the end of the day, this blog, and our company Catch Your Big Break, are dedicated to helping you get ahead in your career. And THIS is how you do it.  You ask for the opportunities and experience that you want. And you don’t take no for an answer. It took me three tries (meaning three years) to get involved with performance reviews, but it was great experience to have and a valuable addition to my skill set.

Having a great personality will take you a long way in life, but having a great personality and the right experience will take you anywhere you want to go. If you’re serious about getting ahead in your career, you have a goal and you know the steps it takes to get there. Reaching your goal will take gaining experience. Experience will come when you ask for it.

If you’re not at that point yet, you don’t have a goal, or you don’t know the steps and experience it will take to get there, think about investing in our Career Strategy Starter Kit today and getting yourself on the right track.

If you’re on the right track already, then don’t be afraid to ask. Ask it will be given to you.