This past International Women's Day, we heard from the author of Leap, Jessica Galica. She encouraged women to take control of their careers and gave them helpful steps to reach new heights in their jobs. At the end of the session, women worldwide had questions for our expert speaker. Continue reading to see some new strategies, tips and maybe even a situation that applies to you!


What strategies do you recommend for understanding where we would like our career to go? I've been in my role for more than two years, and enjoy it, but I’m looking for ways to grow and am unsure where to start. I would also like to mention I am a full-time, remote employee.

Navigating your career direction involves two key aspects: fit and feasibility. Fit is about what energizes you and aligns with your values, while feasibility revolves around assessing your skill set and qualifications. To kick-start this process, start by exploring fit. Where do you envision your career in a decade? Whose career path resonates with you? Next, evaluate your feasibility. What innate talents do you have, and what skills do you need to develop?

As a working mom, this is a very relevant conversation for me. How do we make sure we position ourselves for building our brand effectively while working from home? What specific actions can we take to make sure our names are recognizable in the workplace?

Building relationships with decision-makers and maintaining visibility within your organization is critical, regardless of whether you are working remotely or on-site. The difference lies in the approach and level of proactivity required for remote workers. While you may not bump into your manager in the office cafeteria, you can suggest a quarterly conference call to stay connected. Although daily lunches with colleagues are not feasible, you can request to travel twice per year to facilitate face-to-face interactions. The goal is to adapt traditional relationship-building strategies to suit your remote work reality - ensuring that you remain visible and actively engaged in shaping your professional brand.

Can we discuss the differences between challenges of women in a technical role vs. in a nontechnical role? For those of us in the parts of a tech company where there is still a 1-4 or 1-5 ratio of women to men, we have unique challenges.

In environments where women are significantly outnumbered, biases and feelings of isolation can be pervasive. To address this, it is important for women to prioritize building connections with at least one trusted colleague who can provide support and understanding. Additionally, when it feels safe, I advocate for proactively setting goals with managers and actively seeking out consistent feedback. By doing so, you establish a clear track record and proactively showcase your performance, rather than waiting for acknowledgment from leadership. Using these strategies, women can navigate their environment more resilient and effective even amid gender imbalances.

If we'd like to make a change and we know we'll need a mentor, how do we overcome the fear of approaching and asking someone to be our mentor?

Overcoming the fear of asking someone to be your mentor can feel daunting. Rather than fixating on finding one perfect mentor, I advocate for women to engage multiple individuals in a supportive network or “board of directors.” This alleviates the pressure and yields more diverse, productive results. Start small by making a modest request that does not feel overwhelming. For example, you might reach out with a message like this:

Hello Mallory, I’m currently a product engineer at SAS but I'm interested in transitioning to a technical sales role. Recognizing your leadership in this field, I’m reaching out to seek guidance on how to navigate this transition successfully. Would you be open to a brief 20-minute virtual chat?”

By adopting this approach, you increase your chances of finding the right mentors and create a more organic and comfortable environment. In other words, you increase your confidence and achieve better results!

How do you deal with a situation where you have decided to let go and take on a new challenge, but you're slowly realizing that it’s not the best move for you?

Embrace the notion that career evolution is not about a single transition but rather about continuously strengthening your adaptability and resilience - your "change muscle." When you are in the position described, it is a sign for another round of evaluation and potential change. Reassess your fit and feasibility criteria (refer to Question 2). Consider what you learned from the role about fit - what you want and do not want. Also, reflect on the additional skills and experiences you accumulated that enhance your feasibility. Use these insights to refine your understanding of your career trajectory and make informed decisions about your next step. Lastly, if you are nervous about making another change, lean into opportunities that allow you to test and learn before you leap. For example, do volunteer work or take on a new project within your current role.

I am currently a sophomore pursuing my bachelor's degree in information technology. When is the best time to apply for internships in your college journey?

Increasingly, students pursue internships and work experience earlier in their college journey. While many larger companies target college juniors for structured internship programs, some may consider sophomores as well. Check with your career development office to see which companies have partnerships with your school and their specific application timelines. Additionally, keep in mind that smaller companies and nonprofits often offer more flexibility in their internship programs. Do not hesitate to pitch your internship idea to them if they do not have a formal program! This proactive approach can open unique opportunities for hands-on experience.

Would you mind going over the easy exercise you presented? I think sharing with some of our young adults who do not yet know what they want to do would be helpful.

Here is my straightforward exercise to help individuals who are unsure about their career paths. Start by listing five to 10 people whose careers you find inspiring. Then, reflect on what characteristics or themes these individuals share. Next, repeat the process with jobs by compiling a list of five to 10 positions that pique your interest, regardless of whether you are currently qualified. Again, identify the common themes or patterns among these roles. This exercise may seem simplistic, but it uncovers powerful insights into your preferences, values and potential career directions worth exploring.

Hi there, I came to the United States in 2022. I was a pharmacist in my home country. After coming here, I developed a curiosity for SAS and started preparing for different exams. But as I apply for jobs, I see people requiring someone with a computer science or IT background plus 3 to 4 years of experience. It's really difficult to be in a new country and try to change careers without any experience. This makes me more confused and nervous. How can I overcome this?

A big career pivot, especially in a new country or in a specialized field, can feel daunting. It is important to acknowledge that it may not happen overnight, but you can break it down into manageable steps. Consider pursuing informational interviews and networking opportunities to clarify what it takes to break in. Then, identify small actions that you can take, such as enrolling in an online course or exploring non-technical roles such as marketing or strategy within your desired industry. Remember, a career change is a journey that may take time. Stay committed to your long-term vision and focused on the incremental steps to get there.

I’m 52. I've been in my current position for 23 years and it's been comfortable. I've experienced a lot of financial turmoil within my family, and my job has been a "bread-winning" tool for them. I feel very stuck and content. How do I get beyond the "gotta do what I gotta do" mentality to explore the option of doing something more fulfilling without the overwhelming fear of moving from this stability?

Start by defining what success means to you at this stage of your life. Consider reframing your perspective: Recognize your success in providing for your family! While maintaining financial stability is a priority, it is also important to acknowledge your desire for fulfillment. I encourage you to explore more fulfilling paths without jeopardizing your financial security. Embrace a "test and learn" approach to explore new opportunities while minimizing risk. This could involve taking on new projects within your current role, engaging in volunteer or community work, or researching roles that align with your interests and still offer financial stability. Lastly, remember that pursuing fulfillment does not necessarily mean sacrificing stability!

What role can men play as advocates or allies?

Men are critical as advocates and allies in corporate and home environments. Here is what I encourage men to focus on as advocates and allies:

  • Self-learning. Commit to recognizing and addressing your own biases, fostering an inclusive culture without defensiveness.
  • Inclusion in business. Support and invest in inclusion initiatives that promote belonging and success for all employees and as a result, enhance business performance.
  • Equity at home. Educate yourself about the “mental load” and actively share responsibilities to achieve a more equitable division of labor. Take advantage of parental leave (when offered) and encourage others to do the same, promoting a culture of equal caregiving.

Is your book Leap available in other languages?

Currently, the book is exclusively available in English. To stay informed about any future releases in other languages, I encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter at By doing so, you will receive timely updates regarding any forthcoming publication announcements.

To read more stories about how WIA is empowering women worldwide, check out the blog page.

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About Author

Olivia Ojeda

Olivia Ojeda is an Associate Communications Specialist on the Thought Leadership, Editorial and Content team at SAS. In 2023, she graduated with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing from North Carolina State University. Day-to-day she helps write and edit collateral and enjoys creating colorful and creative blog posts.

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