Random Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings

I know what you’re thinking. A post with “random” and “twenty-somethings” in the title can’t have much substance to it. Not so, I tell you. After some serious thought, I decided who better to give advice to people in their early career years than someone who’s had career experience and who’s in the same shoes as recent college graduates? I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I do mean to share with you whatever knowledge I’ve picked up along the way of my twenty-something years. Dig in!

Here are five tips you can start practicing now:

1. Don’t be afraid to go backwards.

Consider this: With the state of the economy, you are lucky to have any job you can get. Now, this may sound depressing, and perhaps it is, but my goal is to get you thinking in a way that is productive, not negative. When I graduated from college it took longer than I’d hoped for me to get a job. Sure, I wanted to be employed within a few weeks of celebrating the end of homework, but that isn’t always a reality. Instead, I filled out numerous job applications and waited… and waited. Finally, I took a receptionist job. Did it immediately feel like a step forward? No. But, I now view it as an opportunity to make money, meet people, and move ahead. Don’t let your life momentum ever stop.

2. Respect your elders.

This is one instance when it might be best not to show your age. I’m not speaking for everyone in my age bracket when I say that young people these days just don’t have manners. I know there are exceptions to this generalization, but are you one of them? A worker friend of mine mentioned that she’s old school when it comes to hiring, and candidates may be qualified for the job, but if they don’t have the necessary skills in workplace etiquette when it comes to addressing someone or behaving in general, they won’t be offered the job.

3. Aim high.

Writer friends of mine know how it feels to be met with skeptic looks every time we mention our degrees in writing. Common remarks that follow are usually, “What do you plan to do with that?” and “Better get ready for a starving artist kind of life.” If I listened to every criticism and doubt that came my way, I would be stuck with my ears open forever. It’s best to keep a realistic picture of the future in mind, and follow your dreams. Too many people settle for okay. This is your time to take it to the next level. No one wants to wake up one day feeling regret for a life lived lower than it’s fullest potential. Don’t be afraid to aim high.

4. Turn every negative into a lesson learned.

So you didn’t get the first five jobs you applied for. I know it’s easy to become discouraged, but don’t let it break your spirit. Instead, keep applying for different jobs, take continuing education classes, and keep it moving. One of my great uncles once wanted a job at a car mechanic shop. Every day he showed up dressed to work, and every day they told him, “We’re not hiring.” He told them it was okay, and he kept showing up until one day they needed help and offered him the job. That’s determination! I obviously don’t recommend sticking around one place until they, specifically, hire you, but don’t give up.

5. Value yourself.

As young professionals, it can be easy to feel like you’re worth less than more experienced professionals. It’s important to realize that YOU are worth just as much as they are. Young people are usually the ones fresh out of school who have eager minds and the capacity to learn things quickly. They are also, as cliché as it sounds, the future. Never let someone walk all over you at work, or in any area of your life. You have to value yourself to find happiness in this world. Whenever I’m faced with a tough professional decision, I always try to imagine what advice I would give my own daughter. That makes things much simpler.

These are just some of the things I think young people should know, as they enter the professional world. I hope they offer some guidance and at the least, remind you of the things you were already taught to believe about yourself. Good luck on your search, and please take some time to share this article with any young people you know who could benefit from these words.

For more by Sara Kosmyna.

What advice would you give to young professionals just beginning to search for a job?

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One Comment

  1. Joe
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    If your background includes a college use the resources they offer. It is a mistake to not do that. Also, the state has resources to make your job search broader. Use them. Avoid those who are negative. Volunteer. Polish your politeness. Soul search but be practical. Define your work search radius and let all know your job is to get a job or to gather advice to help get you closer to a job. How many contacts a day? 20 is a good number. You will learn something with each contact you attempt even the wrong numbers.
    As you compete for work be strategic, stand out and have a good time.

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