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The year 2009 still haunts me.  After working steadily to pay my dues and make my way in to a mid-level career the economy crashed and the jobs went with it.  I had been steadily progressing in my career and on track to an exceptional 2009, (or so I thought) which would propel me in to the career I had been dreaming of.  Yet suddenly I found myself without work and without a clear plan for my future.  What was this career I had been dreaming of exactly?  Who was I with out a job?  Had I made myself known to my professional peers because of my talents and aspirations or because I was the “insert company name here” girl.  Without a job, would the emails continue to come, would the invites still be sent?  Sadly I quickly realized the answer was no.

Despite working and networking in the city for over five years, 2009 brought me to a startling halt.   I realized I hadn’t begun to build my career at all, I had only been working jobs.  My relationships were not as strong as they should have been and I was completely clueless about the direction of my career path.  Creative careers are notoriously unpredictable, but still, I needed to identify some type of path to career growth.

READ THE SERIES:  WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE

As 2011 comes to a close, I look back on 2009 with a sense of relief and respect.  Two years, two jobs and a lot of soul searching later, I’ve found myself more determined than ever to define my career, but more importantly my value as a human resource.  As I do so, I realize that as a women I am largely unskilled at navigating the complexities of a corporate environment. I find myself running questions in my head on a weekly bases: What does it mean to have a seat at the table? What kind of mentor is actually going to be beneficial to my career? Our workplace is casual, but what is my style saying about me? What about marriage and kids, how (and when) should I deal with that?

As I continue to search for the answers to these questions I also realized the conversations we’re having at dinner with our girlfriends are conversations we should be having on a much larger scale.  This is why we at HelloBeautiful decided to focus our end of the year editorial series on the issues facing women in advancing careers.

We’re tackling careers issues from all angles; finding a mentor, resolving work conflict, management issues, salary negotiations, work/life balance and relationship issues.  We’re starting the conversation but we really want to hear from you.  We invite you to read, comment, share on Facebook and tweet us using #WIW.

You can keep up with me on twitter @Leighdav.

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