For most of us, starting a career provides a purpose to our lives. So after graduation, most of us set off to pursue a career that we hope will match our dream expectations. But the reality we often faced was a bit soul-crushing. So we often wind up with a few hits and a lot of misses, almost like hitting a piñata while blindfolded. So here are some things I wish I could tell my younger self before embarking on this journey.
1. I WISH I’D KNOWN IT WAS A BAD CAREER MATCH
If a job doesn’t feel right, you need to go with your gut. If a better job opportunity presents itself, leave your current job. Don’t be afraid that it will make you look like you’re not committed because you left your job after three months over a new opportunity that could bring you the kind of salary you deserve, and the type of happiness you’ve been looking for.
2. I WISH I’D KNOWN THAT FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER
Dressing up like it’s business casual Friday everyday is a huge no. You can’t expect anyone to take you seriously if you’re not willing to dress the part. Plus, first impressions can mean the beginning or the end of your career, especially if you’re starting your own business.
3. I WISH I’D JOB-HOPPED MORE THOUGHTFULLY
The biggest mistake I, and most of you might make is to quit a job out of resentment. You’re better off sucking it up until you figure out what your dream job actually is and then begin working towards getting that job.
4. I WISH I’D KNOWN THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO LEARN ON THE JOB
Your first time working at a new job can be overwhelming. But quitting after two days just because you don’t feel you’re grasping the company’s needs isn’t the answer. You’re supposed to be a sponge! You’re there to learn and it’s OK to take your time as long as you show interest. Ask questions, listen attentively, and jot down everything you’re told. Eventually, you’ll become a pro at your job.
5. I WISH I’D KNOWN THAT CRITICISM HURTS
Most of us have had bosses who have dressed us down with their harsh criticism. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Criticism is unavoidable, and naturally your ego might get a bit bruised, but the people running the show aren’t just tearing your work to pieces “just for the fun of it.” They’re helping you grow, and molding you into the perfect employee, at least for that particular company. Don’t let it affect your confidence or prevent you from succeeding and become the best you can be.
6. CHANGE HAPPENS OFTEN
You’ve been spoiled in school, where change is slow, but now you’re in a work environment and things change often and quickly. So to stay one step ahead of these changes, try to be aware, positive, organized and learn how to prioritize, but if you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to speak up.
7. I WISH I’D KNOWN THAT MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING
I can’t stress this enough when I tell you that you should never pursue a career just for the money if you absolutely hate it. If you’re passionate about your job, you’ll work even harder and eventually get a promotion, which means more money. Remember that good things come to those who wait.
8. I WISH I HADN’T LEFT A JOB TOO SOON
There could be a million reasons that lead us to job-hop like crazy and the main catalyst is because we’re not happy. But keep in mind that it can take up to three years to get acclimated to your career, because as you know, jobs are constantly evolving. So if you leave too soon, you could wind up missing the broader range of opportunities that show up later down the line.
9. I WISH I’D KNOWN HOW TO TALK TO OLDER CO-WORKERS
When you’re a millennial working with people your parent’s age, it can be very intimidating. But remember that everyone wants to be heard, regardless of their stage in life. So find a common ground like asking about their family, or their weekend plans. You can try asking about their personal opinion on a task you’re both working on, and seek advice from someone in a position of power. Isolating yourself because of the age difference can be detrimental to your career.
10. HOW TO BALANCE MY WORK LIFE
All work and no play makes you a dull boy, or girl. It’s a challenge many of us face at the start of our career. If you’re ambitious and want to get ahead, that’s cool. But if you turn yourself into a workaholic and abandon your personal life, you’ll feel drained and unable to function in either your work or personal time.