How to Kill it at Work and Get the Job You Really Want

December 23, 2019

On December 3, women from across New York City gathered in Gramercy Park deep in the heart of Manhattan to glean kernels of wisdom from speaker Vanessa Mendoza, the executive vice president of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Mendoza spoke to the Network of enlightened Women’s New York City Professional Network chapter about an issue close to the hearts of many conservative women in the professional world, sharing her insights in a talk titled, “How to Kill It at Work and Create the Job You Really Want.” Women gathered at The Winslow Gin House and Eatery to listen to Mendoza speak, make new acquaintances, and debate aspects of being a conservative woman in the professional world today.

Mendoza, a mom of two, shared with the group the wisdom she has gained over her long career, during which she has amassed impressive credentials, especially as a development manager. Mendoza has been with the Manhattan Institute since 2006, when she joined as a policy analyst for the domestic public-policy think tank’s legal policy division. She quickly rose in the ranks, becoming Vice President for Development in 2009, and Executive Vice President of the Institute just three years later. She now manages the Institute’s development, strategy, and projects as well as spearheading the Institute’s sponsorship of the next generation of young leaders.

Among the advice Vanessa gave the group on how to create the job you truly want, she stressed one thing in particular: figure out what you compulsively love, and then do it. She emphasized that a professional will be more successful in her career if her job is doing what she is drawn to doing anyway.

Mendoza went on to remind professionals how important it is to “know what your purpose is.” She illustrated with a story – although it may be a legend, she cautioned with a laugh. President John F. Kennedy is said to have noticed a janitor during his visit to the NASA space center in 1962 and addressed him, saying, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” The janitor responded, “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.” Whether it is true or not, the story demonstrates how the janitor had a mindset bigger than his comparatively small role, an attitude we would do well to emulate, Mendoza said.

Complementing thinking bigger and outside the box is making your own to-do list, Mendoza continued. Professionals looking to advance their careers and live out their purpose more truly should evaluate themselves, be specific with their goals, and break them down, she advised.

Finally, Mendoza offered some insight on how to communicate with a boss. Learn how to communicate clearly and efficiently with your specific superior, but keep your communications as to-the-point and brief as possible, she recommended.

Mentoring young professionals has always been close to Mendoza’s heart. She was formerly on the board of Teneo, an organization of young professionals committed to advancing ideas that promote human freedom and flourishing. Now, she serves on the board of Intelligence Squared U.S, an organization that seeks to restore critical thinking, facts, reason, and civility to American public discourse as well as the advisory board of Open the Books, a nonprofit that works to make government spending transparent to all, and the publications committee of the Manhattan Institute’s magazine City Journal. Today, Mendoza lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

This piece was written for the Network of enlightened Women by Mairead McArdle, co-lead for the NeW NYC Professional Network chapter. To find out more about the NeW Professional Network and to get involved, please contact NeW Program Manager, Amber Downer.
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