Creating Room to Flex
Careers are often not linear journeys, as Girl Scout alum Renee Guida, who works in brand relations for The LEGO Group in Connecticut, has learned several times over.
“For many [people], there are times in life when your priorities [may] change—you [may] get married, have children, seek a promotion, move… You have to be adaptable,” she says. “It’s great to have a plan and goals, but you need to make sure you’re not so rigid that … you expect a straight line.”
Read on for Renee’s tips for building a professional life that is flexible enough to change and grow depending on life’s circumstances.
1. Don’t expect to control everything.
For Renee, it was a recession-induced layoff that forced her to make changes—but there are many other shifts that can impose change on your career path as well.
“There are always going to be things that are out of your control,” she says. “You can plan as best you can, but we’re going to be [met with surprises] in life.”
What you can control, she says, is how you respond to change.
“The people who say ‘OK, this happened, now let me figure out my next step’ are going to be better off.”
2. Recognize when your priorities shift.
“It’s important to acknowledge that everyone is different. For me, my priorities changed after I had kids. I thought ‘maybe I don’t want to be in a job where I fly all over the place and would never be home,’” she says, adding that she has coworkers who are parents and who have taken jobs in other countries as an opportunity to show their kids more of the world.
She dealt with similar changes in priority as a Girl Scout troop leader. As a Girl Scout herself, her favorite moments were camping in A-frame tents, but as a leader she looked to the girls to set the agenda.
“We tried to let the girls lead with what they wanted to do. Our girls were not interested in outdoor activities, but they loved arts and crafts. We did a badge where we made animal beds and collected food and treats for the humane society,” she explained. “The challenge for us as adults is to figure out what the girls want to do.”
3. Know that career transitions often require tenacity.
A little over a decade ago when the recession hit, Renee was laid off from a job she adored.
“I loved my job and I loved my boss. It was sad, and super stressful. I ended up getting a job eventually that I hated. So I kept looking … and I ended up at The LEGO Group a year later,” she says. “I actually applied for two jobs at The LEGO Group that I didn’t get. But I kept trying and I got the third one, which really was the best job for me. I now have been there for 10 years!”
4. Don’t underestimate your abilities.
“Originally, I was working with Toys ‘R’ Us on their LEGO® displays. I did that for five years and I was starting to feel a little burnt out. The LEGO Group is a huge company, and there are a lot of opportunities. But I felt like the most exciting jobs were in brand marketing. That’s the fun stuff—but I didn’t think I was qualified. The job postings always said ‘MBA preferred.’”
Instead of letting insecurity hold her back, Renee talked with her manager.
“My boss was like ‘you can do that job.’”
5. Remember: not all new jobs have to be promotions.
“I actually took a title change and a step down to get a different experience,” Renee says. “I did that for a year and then I was able to apply to the job I’m at now.”
Renee says she firmly believes in this approach.
“Sometimes we’re so busy chasing a title, a salary, or status—but you have to think about what you want out of it. Are you challenged, learning, and growing?”
6. Live in the now.
Renee believes that, when possible, it’s important to slow down and tune in in the context of career.
“Our culture is very go-go-go. Your boss may ask ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ and you may think ‘can I just enjoy the job I’m in?’”
Absolutely, says Renee.
7. Follow your heart, not an agenda.
“When you start feeling bored or not challenged, then you know it’s time to start looking.”
That moment? It’s a time to sit down and really think through what gets you up in the morning, says Renee.
“The big flashy careers get a lot of attention,” she says. “But ask yourself ‘what do I like? Where do I get my energy? What makes me want to learn more?’”
The LEGO Group is a proud sponsor of Girl Scouts Change the World, a live virtual celebration of the 2021 class of Gold Award Girl Scouts. Want to be a part of it? You can join the fun — and honor these impressive accomplishments, too. Registration is open now!