Women in Business: A Working Guide

Forbes reports that the number of women CEOs is on the rise, adding six more to the ranks of the Fortune 500 companies for a grand total of 18 in 2012. When you’re a woman fresh out of college and ready to pursue a professional career, you dream of climbing up the ladder and making your way into that coveted position. While it’s still dominated by men, more women every year are inspired by the ladies at the top spots into pursuing their business dreams.

woman in business

Before you jump at the first job offer remotely related to your career, take some time to consider how to get into the business world without getting in over your head. It’s probably not as complicated as you’re worried about, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your journey to the top of the ladder.

Choosing Your Industry

The most important decision you have early on in your professional career is what industry you want to choose to hang your hat in. While you aren’t locked to that particular industry for the rest of your career, it’s a good idea to choose one that you’re passionate about and interested in. When you have that kind of interest, it shows through in the work that you do.

Take your time figuring out what industries suit your fancy. College Careers recommends looking into the market size, along with the growth rate, of the potential industry that you’re pursuing. If it’s a growing market sector, it will be easier to find jobs and move up the ladder.

Smaller or shrinking industries don’t offer as much expansion, limiting your ladder climbing along with your income. Industry profitability is a good sign to look at to determine a company’s health. Keep up with industry news to find out what topics it finds important, what government regulations are affecting the industry and the current technology trends.

It’s also worth looking into what industries have the most women at the top of the companies, so you know whether you’re going into an old boy’s club or if it’s easier for glass ceiling breaking to happen.

Gearing Up for Success

Once you’ve chosen an industry and have a general idea of what your career path is, it’s time to get properly geared up for the job. You’ve got as many power suits as you can stomach, your smartphone is loaded with apps for the job, and now you are dealing with lots of laptops to choose from. Some solid brands to consider is Lenovo’s Thinkpads and Ideapads, Dell’s XPS series and HP’s Ultrabook line. To start figuring out what laptop works best for you, establish what you’re actually using it for. Is it a projection machine, do you need it to video conference with or do you have an extensive application suite you need to launch on it? PC Mag recommends considering ultrabooks if you need something that has a good amount of power, and an amazing battery life.

Learning that the Path Isn’t Always Straight to the Top

One common misconception you may have as you enter the business world is that you need to stick with a single company, or even industry, as you make your way up to the top of the ladder. The reality is that few people have that long-lasting company loyalty, and if you try to stick with a single company, you probably won’t be earning as much as you should be. Forbes reports that these days, lateral moves between companies helps to make a move up the ladder, instead of waiting around for a promotion that may never come.


Some of the most successful business women I know – either small business owners or company CEOs – have these particular habit: Strive for excellence.

They don’t say, “We can do better than men!” Instead, gender issues aside, they say, “We are striving for excellence.” Their attention to details is superior, and their passion for business is unrivaled. True characteristics of successful business people.

Ivan Widjaya
Founder/Editor Biz Penguin

Photo credit: Victor1558