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Golden Guide Career Advice: Find Advocates for Your Success

Lydia Lazar

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Golden Tip No. 10: Build Your Personal Board of Directors

Golden Guide Career Advice is a series from the AMA in partnership with Lydia Lazar, author of Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People. A new tip in the series will be posted each Tuesday—all tips are available here.

Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Find people willing to guide you in the future by being authentic and hard working in the present. One of the secrets to success is having a team of people who are interested in your accomplishments and who can give you smart, helpful feedback when you need work advice.

Some people are born into families whose parents or relatives are in business or are professionals who can serve as career advisors. But many people do not have family they can turn to for business and career advice. You can and should build a “personal board of directors” for the firm that is “Me, Inc.” (That means you!)

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As you finish school and start working, look around for people who might be good advisors for you and seek their advice. Take them out for coffee or lunch, ask them about their careers and explain your career aspirations. Over time, if they are interested in you and willing to continue to engage with you, be sure to cultivate those relationships.

Even if you do have family to talk to, getting an outside perspective can often be helpful and eye-opening. An outsider may not love you the way a family member might, but as an outside mentor, they can compare you and your career to others who are similarly situated. A mentor can give you advice that reflects their experience, which might be different from what your parents will tell you.

Keep in mind that your personal board of directors is an informal thing, not something you label or put on a résumé—though in conversation, you may describe a former colleague or boss as a “mentor” to you.


Dean Lazar's Golden Guide

For more career tips, read Dean Lazar’s Golden Guide: Pragmatic Career Advice for Smart Young People, available on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Do you have a career question? Contact Lazar at deardeanlazar@gmail.com—the answer may appear in a future post.

Lydia Lazar is founder and president of LHL Consulting. She is the former associate dean for recruitment and career services at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and previously, dean of international law and policy overseeing international student admissions (LLM) at Chicago-Kent College of Law.