Career Advice For Your 20s
Embarking into adulthood [and your 20s in general] can be an uncertain time on its own — but starting the beginning chapter of your career adds a whole new level of complexity, leaving you with lingering questions like — Am I doing this right? Do people wear slacks to work anymore? How do I take initiative without looking pushy? Is this what I want to be doing?
There’s no one right way to build your career and you don’t have to have all the answers. Your 20s are a time for exploration, failure [embrace it], and learning that your career path doesn’t have to be linear. We’re letting you in on a little secret – no one has it all figured out.
Even though there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to building your career, there is a wealth of value in learning from people a step ahead of you. Whether it be a formal mentor, friend, or a phone call to your mom — it’s always best to lean in to learning from other people’s experiences and stories. With that in mind, we asked women around our office what their advice would be for a twentysomething tackling their career. Here’s what we found:
1. Explore Different Roles – Your 20s are a time of exploration — figuring out who you are, what you’re good at [and what you aren’t], and all the different roles out there for a working woman. The best thing you can do in the early stages of your career is to explore different roles. Offer to help in a new area of the company, ask to shadow a new team, take on responsibilities outside of your job description. Not only will this give you a more well-rounded approach to your work, but it will help you find out what you love and what you don’t.
“If you have the opportunity to cross-train or try out different jobs, do it. You may learn a new passion and develop a new skill set that will prove valuable when the opportunity comes for you to move to a different role. You’ll also develop a greater understanding of where your colleagues’ day-to-day challenges are and appreciate their roles.” -Sarah G.
“Jump at every opportunity to learn, especially if it’s with another team. It’s great to start gaining different skills early in your career. Try to learn and understand every aspect of the company you work for.” -Daisy S.
2. Take Ownership – Whether you’re in a role that excites you, bores you, or is simply a stepping stone to the next spot — give it all you’ve got. The best thing you can do for your career + professional reputation is to take ownership of the responsibilities you’ve been given. This is where you become your own hype girl, because you’ve g o t t h i s . When given a task, run with it — and use your resources to help [looking at you, google.]
“Follow through. If you say you’re going to do something, do it, and do it to the best of your ability on time.” -Sarah G.
“Don’t rely on motivation to get things done. You’ll never get off the ground. Discipline yourself.” -Kate B.
“Google everything before you ask someone.” -Julia J.
“If you know something and can be an expert in it, don’t be afraid to be the expert and take ownership! And share your knowledge with others.” -Lauren C.
3. Positivity Is Key – Positivity is the simplest yet most underrated attribute. Mondays got you down? It’s a fresh start. Late on a deadline? We’ve all been there. It’s all about perspective. Negativity is a surefire way to make the workplace harder for you and those around you. Take the high road — focus on encouragement, collaboration with others, and seeing the bigger picture.
“Practice emotional intelligence. Set your personal preferences aside, stay goal-oriented, and do what’s best for the company and the team.” -Kate B.
“It’s not a failure if you learned something.” -Kristi D.
“Be relentlessly positive. It’s smart to be aware of all of the possible outcomes of a business decision or situation, but choosing to dwell on roadblocks or difficult people is a time suck, inhibits problem solving, and brings down your team.” -Melissa P.
4. Embrace The Discomfort – New job, new city, new roommate? Scary. Asking for a raise or promotion? Even scarier. Reality is, your 20s will be filled with discomfort, change, and the unknown — but it’s this kind of discomfort that leads to growth. We know growth takes time, but it also takes guts. Show ‘em what you got.
“Always be a little uncomfortable. Stretching yourself within reason is how you stay growing and keep from getting bored.” -Melissa P.
“Be honest about not knowing things, but confident in your ability to learn.” -Julia J.
“It’s great to have big goals, but break them down into attainable chunks. Don’t put the pressure of forever on yourself. Think 1-3 years at a time — it flies by!” -Kristi D.
5. Form Meaningful Relationships – People are the “why” behind our work. When we value others, especially those we work with, everyone benefits — think growth, new ideas, a fresh perspective, affirmation, and quality friendships. Set an intention to love those you work with well. Take advantage of those moments by the coffee station to ask people how they’re doing or what they’re learning. Intentional questions create intentional relationships.
“Make friends wherever you go. Too much of life takes place at work to not enjoy the people you are around.” -Julia J.
“Be quick to listen and slow to speak. The value of a friend who knows how to listen is immeasurable. Listen to your friends.” -Marisa J.
“Maker deeper, more meaningful connections with others. It’s great to know lots of people on the surface, but really be intentional about getting to a deeper level with the few whom you truly want to form a closer relationship with, whether that be a friend or coworker.” -Daisy S.