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Women, heed your inner voice

Career coach says curiosity causes careers to bloom


Curiosity can give birth to a corporation, a career adviser says.

All too often women let good business ideas fade because they ignore their inner voice, said Caroline Dowd-Higgins, director of career and professional development at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington.

“We get more curious with age,” she said. “We need to be curious because you could accidentally stumble upon a new career.”

Dowd-Higgins is the keynote speaker Tuesday during the seventh annual Fort Wayne Colloquium for Women of IU. The invitation-only event takes place at the Fort Wayne Country Club. About 100 are expected to attend.

Dowd-Higgins is an author, national speaker and host of the CBS radio program, “Career Coach Caroline,” which airs on at 5 p.m. Tuesdays. Her online bio says she is the best-selling author of “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” and writes for the Huffington Post, More Magazine, AOL Jobs and CNN Money online.

Women can learn from their male counterparts when it comes to taking chances, Dowd-Higgins said. Men are more likely to apply for a job even though they don’t meet all of the qualifications.

“We won’t do that,” Dowd-Higgins said. “Men figure they can learn the rest on the job. We should think that way instead of thinking we have to be 100 percent right for a job. Nobody is 100 percent.”

Still, Dowd-Higgins acknowledged that a tight job market does allow employers to hold out in hiring. That’s why the entrepreneurial spirit is so important, she said. It pays to see a need and fill it, Dowd-Higgins said.

It was more than 30 years ago, for example, when friends Patricia Miller and Barbara Baekgaard founded Vera Bradley after noticing not much in the way of attractive luggage for women during a layover at an airport.

“Now their luggage is all over airports across the country,” Dowd-Higgins said. “Women need to take more risks.”

Dowd-Higgins also said women shouldn’t go on guilt trips. Some working females feel they’re shortchanging their home life, while others worry about leaving early from work to care for family matters.

“You get both sides of the spectrum,” Dowd-Higgins said. “Many women are what I like to call CHOs or chief household officers in addition to working outside the home.”

That’s nothing to feel guilty about, she said. In fact, last year new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer proved you can have it all, Dowd-Higgins said. Mayer announced she was pregnant shortly after taking the reins of the search engine company.

“That was great,” Dowd-Higgins said.

Laurie Burns McRobbie is a founder of the Women’s Philanthropy Council at IU. The organization is hosting Tuesday’s event. The council is comprised 36 members with four from northeast Indiana.

McRobbie, wife of IU President Michael McRobbie, said it’s important to point out the impact women are making. Since the council’s establishment three years ago, it has raised $1.5 million for the university.

“We need to bring awareness and visibility about that support,” McRobbie said. “There are the Rockefellers and Bill Gates of the world, but women are part of a less visible trend of philanthropic giving and we want to shine a light on it.”