Alpha female: How to make it off the bottom rung

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Congratulations. You've been in your job a few months, found your feet, and may even get a bonus. First you'll need to be a success.

If you are junior, to my mind the most important thing is your attitude. You are only junior once. Your bosses will accept mistakes (for now) but they will not be tolerant of insolence or arrogance. I'm sure you want to climb the corporate ladder quickly, but be realistic. You are not a Master of the Universe yet.

Accept that you are at the bottom and that those senior to you - and even many of those junior to you - know more than you do. Be willing to do anything and everything. Yes, no matter how odious the task might be. Try your best at everything. Ask questions when you don't understand. Be respectful. Slightly under-promise and then over-deliver rather than over-promising and under-delivering.

Be realistic about your constraints, but don't bother your boss with all the details. Manage expectations. Make yourself indispensable. Help out your fellow analysts or associates. You are all in it together. You never know when you might need someone else's help. Make friends with the support staff.

If you have a can-do attitude, the willingness to learn and the willingness to accept constructive criticism gracefully, in time your superiors will like and trust you.

You might even be surprised at how quickly this will happen. They will give you more interesting projects to work on. They will draw you into their circle and give you the benefit of their wisdom and expertise. You will learn from them. A year from now you will realise how much you have learned, and be able to pass your wisdom on. And you will be higher on that corporate ladder.

Anneke de Boer is a former managing director of Morgan Stanley's fixed income and debt capital markets business in London. She retired in 2006.

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