Three Pros Give Advice to Their Younger Selves

After four solid years in the workforce, I’m not the new kid on the block anymore.

When I first started my career I made a ton of mistakes, asked for a lot of help and sought out and took advantage of many opportunities. Now, I have a good handle on the ins and outs of the workplace, I’m great at my job and have developed a well-rounded skill set.

Although there is so much more to learn, now instead of being the one who’s always asking for advice, I’m the one who’s giving it.

This is strange because sometimes I don’t feel experienced enough to give advice. However, when I do offer my insights, I surprise myself with how much I know and feel happy that I can pass on some wisdom. As I start this shift from mentee to mentor, it’s got me thinking about what advice I would give my younger self.

I would probably tell myself to, ‘Take a break.’

In the months leading up to graduation, I was determined to get a job as fast as I could. So I didn’t rest after graduation and spent all my free time job hunting. Now with a full-time job, I don’t have the luxury of taking a break for more than a few consecutive days. If I could do it again, after graduation I would have traveled for a few months, spent more time with my family and taken more time to get in tune with what I wanted out of my career and life. Between college and career, I advise everyone to take a break for as long as it makes sense for you.

In the spirit of giving advice to the next wave of professionals, I asked some successful, up-and-coming professionals to share what they wished they knew when they first started out.

“In school, you’ve been trained to complete assigned tasks, whether it’s finishing homework or completing a project. However, in the workplace, the most successful people question the status quo by constantly thinking how things can be done differently, and they take initiative and rally the troops to do so. Act now and apologize later.” 

Albert Cheng, Technology Manager, YouTube Sports – Google

“I wish I was told to network! I graduated when the economy was at its lowest and the job market was extremely competitive. I spent a year doing internships and continuously applying and interviewing for jobs and not getting anywhere. I had no idea how important it was to network because it was rarely, if ever, talked about in college. Once I made networking a top priority, everything fell into place and I landed my #dreamjob.”

Kristen Boyen, Employee Success Ops Administrator, Salesforce

 “One thing I wish I knew when I first started out is how to be a better teammate. People have different interests, motivations and levels of experience and getting everyone to be pulling in the same direction can be surprisingly difficult at times. However, when a team can learn how to harness the talent individuals, great things can happen.”

Justin Ungson, Senior Associate, Berkeley Research Group, LLC

What’s something you wish you knew when you first started out in your career?

5 thoughts on “Three Pros Give Advice to Their Younger Selves

  1. “Don’t let yourself get too comfortable.” – In past jobs I’ve found that once a job became too easy or I was too comfortable, I quickly got bored and became complacent. This caused me to have less interest in the job I was doing, feel like I was no longer growing at my position, and start to look at my job and just that, a job, rather than something I was passionate about. If you find yourself getting too comfortable ask yourself if there is something more could you be doing to get out of your comfort zone a bit. Whether it’s taking on a new project or learning a new skill set or maybe even finding a new job. If you’re doing something that keeps you interested and motivated, not only will you feel more accomplished, but you will ultimately be happier.

    1. This is such a great point to keep in mind. I know many people get to the point where they feel stuck in their job and it’s important to remember that you have the power to change that; whether it’s learning something new or looking for a new job. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  2. One thing I wish I knew was how important “soft skills” would be in my job. In fact, soft skills became even more important on my job than the technical skills I learned in college. I was so worried the first few months on the job that I wasn’t going to remember everything I learned in college to do my job really well. Well, it turned out that it’s the soft skills that pull you through and allow you to learn and do your job well at the end of the day. Soft skills such as working with others as team member, having the ability to quickly resolve conflicts, ability to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing, the ability to listen, schedule wisely, understand and apply concepts, and use other particular skills such as PowerPoint, and a variety of business and personnel management skills which I did not learn in college as a science major.

    1. Excellent advice! No one tells you how important soft skills are when you graduate, but they are the key to being successful and standing out. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing your insights.

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