Practical advice for young people starting their careers
Without asking, parents, family, neighbors and everyone else will offer young adults their unsolicited opinions and advice on your job search and career. They mean well. Unfortunately, although their intentions are honorable, their orientations are sometimes questionable. Here are some opposing views on what people starting their careers should do. Be ready; your parents and relatives may disagree.
Just because you haven’t been in the workplace for a ‘hot minute‘ doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself. You are in a delicate position. Almost everyone around you is older and you don’t want to make waves. Conflict is uncomfortable. You will need to get used to talking with higher level people to be successful in your career.
Before speaking, get an overview of the terrain. You want to know which people are important and can make things happen and which ones don’t care less about your situation. Feel the vibe of who would be a strong ally, mentor, and champion of your causes.
No one else will do it for you unless you ask for a raise, a lateral transfer, or better assignments. Do not use a combative or accusatory tone when speaking. Think about how you would like your boss to talk to you and model that behavior.
Over time, you will feel comfortable talking with managers. People will notice you and cutting-edge career growth missions will be offered to you. The more you talk, the greater your visibility becomes.
Your pace. In large bureaucratic organizations, it is difficult to adopt changes. If no action is taken on your requests, ideas and suggestions, do not think that they have been rejected. Usually there is an internal hierarchy that must consider and review new policies and programs. Follow up politely to track progress.
Change jobs when it’s good
Baby boomers and older Gen Xers have learned to accept a job and stay with the company for an extended period of time. Your parents will brag about having worked in the same place for more than twenty years. For both generations, if someone left their position only after a few years, they would be derided as a “job hopper”.
It’s different now. If you feel like you’re not learning, growing or growing, ask for a conversation with your direct manager to find out what their plans are for your future at the company. If you’re unhappy, it’s perfectly fine to start looking for a new job.
The next role should offer better opportunities for growth and development, more money, a higher title, and a sense of purpose and meaning with a company that shares your values. This doesn’t mean that you should keep changing jobs, because it could work against you. If you move too often, interviewers might be suspicious of why you can’t keep a job. Make sure the reasons for quitting are valid and well thought out.
In every new venture, you want to cultivate a mutually beneficial network of people who can continually help you achieve your career goals. Reciprocate with tips and advice when requested by others within your network. You will continue to learn new technologies, acquire additional skills and progress towards your long-term goals.
Go to the office almost every day
Gen-Zers generally want to work remotely. The reasons make sense. You have more time, you can enjoy a social life, you don’t have to travel three hours round trip and you are independent in your day. It looks like a sweet setup.
Despite the benefits, you should be in the office five days a week for the sake of your long-term career. It is essential to learn how things work from the inside. You can find like-minded mentors, advocates, and work friends. There’s the possibility of finding new friends now that you’ve lost touch with high school acquaintances and college pals scattered across the country.
The proximity bias will give young adults a halo effect. Since managers and executives see them daily, they will get juicy assignments. Compared to their peers, who are dots in a box on a zoom call, office workers will gain the lion’s share of attention.
Socialization can wait
You won’t like this advice. Give everything you have during the first years of your career. Put time and energy into it. Learn as much as possible. Take on challenges. Night and weekend work as needed. This is not hustle-porn; it is reality.
You spent four years having fun in college. Four years of hard work balances things out. Putting in the effort is like investing in the stock market or buying cryptocurrency. You risk spending all your time losing fun with your friends and not progressing as you hoped.
It’s also likely that the time you’ve invested puts you far ahead of the pack. You will be head and shoulders above your peers. When you’re young and have energy, it’s a good time to do what it takes to succeed. It gets much more complicated as you get older, gain more responsibilities, and start a family. Your future self will thank you for all your hard work and effort as you sit at the beach, retired in your 40s.
Don’t just shoot for the best marquee brands
When you work for a big company like Goldman Sachs, Apple, Google Where Amazon, your family will be proud, your friends will be impressed, and being part of the company gives you bragging rights and social status. The challenge is that when you work for a gigantic global corporation with tens of thousands of workers, you will be told to stay in your swim lane. You will work on part of a project. That’s good, and you could become an expert in a niche.
The other side of the equation is taking a risk and joining a growing small business. In startups and growing companies, you will be able to juggle multiple jobs. Every day you will learn, stretch and grow. Your confidence will improve. You will likely interact with management, senior executives and key customers. The experience will put you at ease speaking with high-level people in the future. You will cultivate the reputation of being a fast-track star. Soon you will be highly sought after within the organization and recruited by other companies.
After paying several hundred thousand dollars for tuition or taking out expensive loans, you need to start earning and saving money. Go home. I know you don’t like this idea. Unfortunately, your generation is forced to contend with rampant inflation, sky-high apartment prices, and incredibly high daily expenses. When you add your iPhone, clothes, food, vacations, dining out, shows, concerts, dates, and sporting events, that leaves you with a small after-tax paycheck.
If you go home, you can put your check in the bank and not worry about living on credit cards that charge gangster interest rates on top of your already expensive tuition. You will not be able to set aside money for investments and retirement.
With the cost savings of being at home, you’ll have extra cash flow instead of debt. Moving can hurt your ego and your social life for a while; however, it will set you up financially and pay off in the long run.