The movie Hidden Figures introduced us to Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who were human computers at NASA. The film captures Katherine Johnson’s dedication and creativity as she enhanced trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s flight. Her success led John Glenn to insist that she verify the newly installed computer projections before his flight. She lifted her career as well as the rockets.

Dorothy Vaughan was the first female supervisor at NASA. She earned her position by developing new skills and training her staff when their jobs were threatened by the introduction of an IBM computer. Seeing the writing on the wall, she conducted computer program classes to keep them ahead of the technology curve.

We must learn from these women, especially since the pace of change has grown exponentially since the 1960s. Women must continually update their skills and demonstrate their value. Career development alternatives you could consider include

  • Staying alert to external trends and internal realities. What if you were a professional driver? How would drones, driverless cars, cashier-less stores, and automation mean for your job?
  • Leveraging trends in your organization. Is greater specialization or general managerial skills increasingly important? What accomplishments have recently earned promotions? How can you contribute to critical goals?
  • Developing mentors outside your chain of command offers you a sounding board and career insights. They can guide your next steps.
  • Displaying initiative and creativity increases visibility while also expanding your skillset. Many women become executive after introducing a new line of business.
  • Building a professional network. Join your professional association to stay up to date. In addition, professional associations gain early identification of job openings.
  • Crafting a developmental plan. Record your goals and specific milestones to increase the rate of follow-through. Share your interests and plans with your manager.
  • Collecting honest feedback and suggestions. Every one of us can improve when we learn about our potential blind spots. It demonstrates that you are interested in advancing your career.
  • Attending conferences, seminars, and workshops. Valuable technical nuggets can be gained, and, at the same time, you can expand your network.
  • Learning from your mistakes. The only failure in life is to make the same mistake twice. Take time to reflect on professional and personal setbacks to discover new strategies for handling the issue in the future.
  • Allocating time for strategic thinking. While turmoil frequently consumes our time and energy, we must devote time to finding the right career direction.

What are you doing to develop your career opportunities? Our careers are not set in stone. Opportunities abound, enabling us to create our desired career path.

Dr. Mary Lippitt,  an award-winning author, consultant, and speaker, founded Enterprise Management Ltd. to help leaders with critical analysis.  Her new book, Situational Mindsets:  Targeting What Matters When It Matters was published last year with a Foreword from Daivd Covey. She can be reached at mlippitt@enterprisemgt.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/marylippitt/