BY COLLEEN PATTERSON
Fenique King is a Digital Marketing Manager by day and a self-proclaimed ‘fashion-loving foodie by night’ whose blog, ChicinChocolate is a wealth of career and style advice for young woman.
Ask Fenique for advice and she’ll tell you upfront to take her insights with a grain of salt.
“When you listen to other people it can actually discourage you from making the moves that you personally want to make,” she points out. “As I’ve gotten older, I ask less people what they think and take fewer opinions to heart.”
Originally a fashion marketing and merchandise major at the University of Missouri, Fenique realized her senior year that she didn’t want to be a buyer. “Which probably isn’t the best time to realize you don’t want to be a buyer, right?”
Yes and no.
Fast forward several years later and Fenique loves her current job. There’s only one catch. She’s the only millennial and woman at her current company, a home and garden product manufacturer.
It’s a unique position to find oneself in and she owns it. “Sometimes a company needs to be shook up.”
She’d find herself researching personal finance and investment resources for weeks -- what apps to use.
“I started in 2014 because I feel like women are more than great hair, makeup, and a great outfit. We have careers. We love to travel. We have aspirations and we need advice.”
Be exactly who you are from Day One
Day one, you’ve marched up to reception for an in-person interview. Let them know who you are then and there.
“That’s important because they’re either going to like you or they’re not. They’re going to accept you or they’re not,” says Fenique. “I work with all men. Everyone is over forty but by that same token, it’s a great situation for me.”
It’s okay to say, ‘no.’
When she took her current job, Fenique did something new female hires never do:
She negotiated her salary.
“Just because someone offers you something, it doesn’t mean that that’s what you’re worth. You have to know your worth better than anybody else. Understand your worth. That’s huge.”
In fact, she also negotiated her title: “I said, I’ve always had manager in the title. I’m going to need to be a manager.”
Standing up for yourself is often as easy said as done.
Interview your interviewer
Fenique always asks follow up questions. It’s okay to ask detailed questions about the nature of the company culture: how often and what do you do with each other?
“The answers you get can tell you a lot about the company vibe,” says Fenique. “Don’t just try to make a good impression. Make your own assessment based on the way people are in the interviews.”
Pay attention and always be your own advocate. That goes back to the job search process.
“You have to go for it. Don’t be nervous to reach out to people on LinkedIn. That’s what it’s for!”
If you’re told ‘no,’ it’s okay to leave
You’ve tried to negotiate your salary and they’re not giving you the money that you want. Are you in a dire situation? If not, don’t take that job unless you really want it.
“Tell them thank you so much for the opportunity and don’t accept the offer,” says Fenique. “It’s okay to be selfish. I once worked at a company that wouldn’t give me a bonus because I ‘already made too much.’ I knew that day I needed to leave and within a month I had taken a new job.”
Learn from the bad boss
“I had an experience right out of college with a boss who was never happy, never satisfied and he worked hard but he wanted people to work to their deaths,” says Fenique.
“But we all have to go through the trenches in some way so that you can appreciate the good boss and recognize the opportunities that you do want.”
That job made Fenique tougher and a better advocate for herself.
Do a quick gut check
If you find yourself seeking guidance — your first step should be to look inward. When Fenique says, “I don’t believe in mentors,” she earnestly means it.
Within the context of your job, absolutely ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to get feedback. Just take the parts you think you need the most and work toward those goals.
In making decisions for yourself, however, the onus is solely on you.
“When I was in college, everyone was like you need to get a mentor and I was like for what? If there’s something you really wanna do you can probably make it happen,” says Fenique. “Now, if Oprah told me she wanted to be my mentor I would say yes, but Oprah is nowhere to be found.”
She does stress the importance, however, of cultivating a diverse group of friends.
“Be fearless and hard working. Be open to asking people if you can do things for them to get the two of you exposure. Make it mutually beneficial.”
For regular insights from Fenique herself, check out ChicInChocolate. You'll find there’s real end to her advice which, remember, you don’t have to take. But, I'd suggest you do.