5 How-To-Make-It Career Lessons

What is success? Is it job satisfaction, a big paycheck, a healthy family—or maybe all of the above? And how do we become successful, someone that others admire and want to be like?


What is success? Is it job satisfaction, a big paycheck, a healthy family—or maybe all of the above? And how do we become successful, someone that others admire and want to be like?

Former Leading Lady and freelance writer Ilana Greene set out to help 20-somethings answer those questions. In her first book From the Dorm Room to the Penthouse, Ilana shares a dialogue similar to “an extended conversation between the young college graduate and her more sophisticated cousin.” But don’t think this book is just for ladies with shiny new degrees. It’s also for 20-somethings who are “not satisfied with their life, their journey or their job.”

Ilana, a former equities trader from Goldman Sachs, was once this very 20-something. When she found herself lacking passion for the job she was in, she took a risk—giving up a fancy title and hefty paycheck—to go back to school for her Masters degree. The lucky lady didn’t get into just any college—she was admitted to Harvard—and while a student there, she lived off of the nest egg she had built at Goldman Sachs. However, once she was a graduate, she was left at a similar crossroad, trying to figure out what she wanted to do and how she could make a living off of something she was passionate about.

To find these answers, Ilana did something she had always loved to do—connect with others. Through relationships and individuals she was introduced to throughout her equities career and graduate school days, Ilana began to ask questions of those she admired. While seeking these answers, certain nuggets began to take a strong hold, and these mentors essentially helped her figure out her path to becoming a profitable freelance writer for some of the biggest publications—from Forbes to Business Insider—as well as a respected consultant.

So in her book, it seems natural Ilana would share the advice that changed her career, as well as interviews with her army of mentors, to help 20-somethings who are now feeling a little stuck, just as she once was.

After an enjoyable weekend reading the advice and interviews with everyone from Nobel Prize-winning Professor Peter Diamond to famed photographer Patrick McMullan and best-selling author Bill Flint, I compiled a list of my five favorite pieces of advice from Ilana’s book. If they inspire you, pick up a copy and you’ll find hundreds more.

1 / No Matter What We Do, A Safety Net Will Always Appear

Think about this advice for a minute. When was the last time you took a huge leap and didn’t find any sort of safety net? Even if you move to the other side of the country to a place where you don’t know anyone, you will make friends, you will find a safe place to live and you will begin to make a life for yourself in this new place. Don’t forget to keep this message in mind when you’re scared to take a new step into your unknown.

2 / Share Information With Other Women

“The possibilities are endless, as long as we continue to share information on how we can be successful women running our own companies,” Ilana writes. This very site is proof of that. Why tear other women down—or judge them—when all you need to do is share with them? Trust me, when you open up to another woman and find out she’s in a similar position, she will automatically appear less threatening. It’s time we create our own “Good ‘Ole Girls” network and do it better than the boys.

3 / Build Relationships, Especially When You Have No Money

When Ilana began her freelancing career she writes, “I started building these relationships because I had no money and I needed to figure out how to make it. Just like anyone else.” Remember, even though you don’t have all the answers, often someone in your network will have the answer to that problem you’ve been trying to figure out. It’s OK to ask that person for help. Just remember, relationships go both ways. There’s often ways you can help them with a challenge, too—even if it’s not immediate.

4 / Find A Job You Would Do For Free

When you’re just out of college, this might not sound like the easiest advice. Many times you’re just looking for a job, right? But the further along you get in your career, it’s important to take your fulfillment into consideration. Ilana wasn’t fulfilled with her job as an equities trader. It wasn’t a job she would have done for free, but freelancing was, and as she writes in her book, she did end up doing it for free when she was getting started.

5 / Pick Up The Phone And Make It Happen

This is my favorite piece of advice in the whole book. The official I Want Her Job hashtag is #WomenMakingItHappen. All it takes is an email, a tweet, a Facebook message or a phone call to further progress on finding your dream job or making that next step in your goal come true. What are you waiting for? Go make it now.