I often wish I had someone to give me guidance about life after college before starting my career. Looking back on my career thus far, I’ve experienced some amazing highs and lows. If only I could go back in time and tell my younger self what I know now! Here are the top four things I would tell myself:
1) Be Involved
You’ve probably heard before that networking is key, and one of the best ways to network is through internships or volunteering. I made sure to stay in touch with everyone from my first internship and it paid off years later – I’m now working with old colleagues at my current job.
When you put yourself out there and meet new people, more opportunities to further your career become available. Job-hunting can be soul-sucking, so instead of sending your resume into the online abyss, give it to a mentor. With their help, you can learn more about your qualifications and how they measure up to what the hiring manager is looking for. A strong network is invaluable – never underestimate its potential.
2) Constructing a Positive Personal Brand
I began my job when social media was still fresh. In the past few years, I have successfully juggled 35 social media accounts at one time- and that’s not including my own personal channels! What I learned from building brands for companies is that it’s just as important, if not more so, to build the brand of “me”. All of the social channels, websites, and portfolio sites that you connect your name to are chances for you to share your skillset, wisdom, and creativity with everyone.
3) See the World and Explore New Cultures.
I often hear people say they wish they had taken advantage of certain opportunities, and I wonder why they didn’t seize them. Life is too short to have regrets, so whether it’s an opportunity to go on an exchange trip, volunteer vacation or simply attend a special event, take the plunge! You won’t regret it. When you travel, you learn things that can help broaden your perspective and set you down a new career path.
4) Feel More Confident and Secure
Few communities existed for women to talk candidly about their career goals with other women or men, and get advice, before Levo League, Women 2.0, Lean In, and Girls Raising came along. The number of resources and networks available to women in their early 20s has increased significantly, regardless of whether or not they know what career they want. If you want to feel more confident and secure, find people who support your career goals and look for opportunities to get a mentor. Getting involved with local or national groups related to your desired industry will help you network and build relationships with others in your field.
If you could go back to your early 20s, what advice would you give yourself about starting a career?