I reflect on my career, I feel blessed with the opportunities and experiences I have had in the food service industry. I can truly say I am equally as enthusiastic about coming to work today as I was on my first day as a manager trainee. I love what I do!

I was fortunate to be in an operations position where there was an obvious career path, although the journey wasn’t always easy. Like all working mothers, we make sacrifices, work long hours, get results and just hope someone notices.

However, hoping someone notices is not a good career strategy. After being passed over for the same job several times, in exasperation I said to my boss, “When is it going to be my turn?” His response was eye-opening as he said, “Carin, there is not a person here who thinks you have any desire to move up.”

As obvious as this sounds now, I learned very quickly I must be an advocate for myself and my career. My peers were having those critical career advancement dialogues, while my career discussions with my boss were always about my team and their development. The discussions really aren’t difficult, and I must admit, I enjoy having confident team members who want to advance. Here are some tips as you prepare for the discussion with your boss.

Come to the discussion fully prepared. Know what your career aspirations are; don’t expect your boss to come up with a plan for you. Be honest about your current skills and know what is required for the next job. Learn it! Be open to feedback.

Understand there will be a need for personal behavior changes; you must strengthen your current leadership skills plus learn new ones. What makes you successful in your current position won’t necessarily be a winning formula for the next.

Network! Think about who will be in the room when the decision for the next promotion is made. What is your professional relationship with each of them, and will they sponsor you for the job? Always have the courage to speak up for yourself and enjoy what the future brings.

There is much opportunity for great leaders.