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Mandi Woodruff-Santos is the founder of the blog MandiMoney, a resource for career and financial advice.
Woodruff-Santos is a journalist by trade who taught herself about finances after experiencing a layoff early on in her career. With her newfound expertise, Woodruff-Santos landed a job in 2013 as the first personal finance writer hired by Business Insider. She later served as editor of the site’s Your Money vertical before leaving to join Yahoo Finance as a personal finance writer and correspondent.
While at Yahoo, Woodruff-Santos launched the web series “Mandi Minute,” which broke down important financial topics into 60-second clips. In 2015, she co-founded the “Brown Ambition Podcast” with friend and fellow Top Money Expert Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche. The podcast aims to help women of color improve their finances and careers.
Why She’s a Top Money Expert:
Woodruff-Santos is empowering women of color to get the jobs and salaries they deserve through her online resources, coaching sessions, podcasts and public speaking engagements.
What’s the one piece of career advice you wish everyone would follow?
The sooner you stop relying on a single job or company to provide financial and professional “stability,” the better. Start investing in your own resilience as a professional, so that no matter what happens to you over the course of your career, you always have a strong foundation to bounce back from.
Invest time in your skills and in your own development in your industry and do not sleep on those personal relationships. Go through your career expecting every single person you encounter to be a potential light in the darkness if things don’t go your way down the line. You never know where people are going to end up or how they may be able to help you when you are looking for a new opportunity.
What traditional career advice do you believe is not worth following?
Traditionally, there’s an expectation that you need to suffer and grind yourself to death early in your career to be worthy of new opportunities down the line. Unfortunately, this tradition still shows up in many professions, but I think that it’s time to start teaching young professionals to expect a lot more. I want young professionals today to go into their careers expecting to get what they give, and to look for opportunities at companies that value their development and their growth and don’t just expect them to be a cog in a wheel. It’s not about “quiet quitting” or showing up and doing the bare minimum — it’s about giving your best effort only for companies that support and value you and see you as a full individual, not a robot without a personal life or other interests.
What’s the No. 1 thing everyone should do to boost their income and/or earning potential?
Don’t get complacent with where you’re at and always be looking for new opportunities to grow. Always stay open to new career opportunities and practice your negotiation skills. There’s just no better opportunity to negotiate higher compensation than when you are leaving one job for a new one, and you may hold yourself back financially if you stay too loyal to one employer.
As far as increasing your earning potential, you need to be a couple of steps ahead of yourself, always thinking of where your industry is heading and how you can start to acquire specific skill sets that match.
There’s a time about five to 10 years into your career when it’s also a great moment to start specializing or niching down so that you become the go-to person for a specific aspect of your work. The more unique and in-demand your skill set is, the more resilient you’ll be as a professional.