By Go-getter Precious Singo
I’m a big proponent of learning something from every experience. Even something as simple as ordering coffee at Starbucks is enough of an experience that I can glean something from it (Blond espresso=same amount of caffeine as regular…who knew?!).
All of it, every single thing you do in life, can teach you something. Some of it is small and seemingly trivial, some of it so big you could write a book on it, but ALL of it’s important.
To that end, I asked some of the folks in my circle for what advice or learning experiences they would give to their younger selves, even if they knew their younger self wouldn’t listen. This group ranges from a journalist, to a partner at a law firm, to former stay-at-home moms just back in the workforce (and who are killing it).
If you are just stepping out in the world, taking a break, or starting all over again, here is a list of advice and tips that can make your journey a little less bumpy. I challenge you to pick one tip from below and own the hell out of it. Make that tip your mantra for 2019. Use that tip to pave your way to go get the world.
- Do internships. Interning is such a fantastic and virtually risk-free way to try on a career and make sure you like/don’t hate it. Try on careers and see what fits! (This tip came from several of the smartest people I know, who all regretted not doing any or more internships.)
- Don’t apologize if you haven’t done anything wrong. So many of us have a tendency to open any sentence or question with, “I’m sorry.” If you’ve done something wrong, then apologize once genuinely and let it go. But if you’re saying ‘I’m sorry’ before every time you speak, stop. We (We=whatever group you happen to identify with) belong in professional spaces. We deserve to take up as much space and spend as much time growing professionally as anyone else. That’s nothing to feel sorry about.
- Find your own opportunities. If you feel like you don’t have opportunity, go out and find it or create your own. No one else will do it for you.
- Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. Ask for help reviewing the scholarship application, cover letter, interview questions. The whole enchilada. Then, help someone do the same.
- The most prestigious firm/company isn’t necessarily the right one. Make sure you’ve found a cultural fit before accepting an offer. You could end up miserable, joining a toxic workplace, or worse yet, having to compromise your values.
- Forge your own path. 40-hour work weeks, college, or 2.5 kids don’t work for everyone. Really reflect on who you are and what you want, and go get the world!
- You don’t have to stay in a job/career path that makes you miserable just because you’ve been doing it for a long time. Consult with your support network to discover what really makes you happy.
- You are not your job. What you see in your workplace is a lot like what you see on Facebook and other social media. People show their best selves there, while at home, it might be a gong show. Maintain perspective that what you do for work is just one aspect of your entire life.
- Involve your support system and keep them updated so they will be ready to help when you need it. If you don’t have a support system yet, cultivate one.
- You absolutely can start a career after kids. Parenthood can prepare you for career multitasking and flexibility, among a number of other things.
- Get in tune with your body. Practice self-care. Get massages. Fix your posture. For f*ck’s sake, stay hydrated.
- Don’t be discouraged. In certain careers, even though it is 2019, it is still very much a man’s world. Speak up. Don’t lose your voice.
- Stay focused. This probably should be #1. Often times we become focused with what others are doing and whether the outcome is “fair” or not. It is easy to get wrapped up in the “Why does he get to do this or that and I don’t?” or “Why do I work so hard when she doesn’t?” Don’t. There are always going to be people who aren’t working as hard as you, or seemingly “get away” with things that you couldn’t even imagine doing. So what? Focus on what you need to do. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing.
Is there something you wish you could have told your younger self? Let us know by commenting below or sending us a message!