After working full-time for over two years, I can say I have fully arrived in the career cosmos. Looking back at the start of my journey I have a few things I wish I knew back then. So here are 17 tips for the start of your career I wish my younger self knew!
1. Working hard does not mean working overtime
Don’t even jump into the hamster wheel of hustle culture. You can work hard, do a wonderful job and advance your career in your normal working hours, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
2. You’re Allowed to negotiate your salary for your first job
Even if you do not have a lot of working experience, you do bring a certain skill set and life experience to the table. Make sure you know how to negotiate your salary right from the start.
3. Set your boundaries early on
Don’t let work take over your private life. Make clear to your colleagues when and how they can call and message you. Your private time off is as important as your work.
4. It doesn’t count as a break if you are still thinking about work
You can’t work fully concentrated for 8 hours a day. make sure to take breaks away from your work, and use your break time for things that have nothing to do with work.
5. Take time to celebrate your successes
No matter how small a success might seem, make sure to celebrate each one. Every success is important.
6. Don’t hesitate to ask questions
It’s ok to not know everything or to not get everything right from the start. You are here to learn something new. You don’t need to be perfect.
7. Reach out to people you admire and want to learn from
Having a person you trust or a mentor can help you reach your career goals, but it’s also important to have someone to talk to from time to time, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
8. Don’t compare yourself to colleagues
Every person is on their own career journey with their own goals. Don’t compare yourself to others. Try to walk your own path without any distractions.
9. Take care of your mental health
Your mental health is incredibly important generally and in the work context. I feel like especially young professionals tend to overwork themselves without looking out for their mental wellbeing. Always keep your work-life balance in mind.
10. Don’t stress if you don’t understand something immediately
You are human and you need time to learn something. Don’t expect too much from yourself. It’s a learning curve and one day you might be able to do your tasks with your eyes closed.
11. Start building career skills as early as possible
Make sure you know what your employer offers. Attend the workshops and seminars they offer and also research other possibilities for yourself to learn more.
12. Move to where the opportunities are
Right out of university when you are building a career you need to go where there are the best opportunities. Don’t let people or fear hold you back, you can always move back to your hometown later on.
13. Start saving your pay as soon as possible
Putting money in a retirement plan in your 20s or 30s grows much more quickly than in your 40s. If you start saving immediately you will have a pretty decent dollar amount in five years.
14. Never sell yourself short
Know what you are worth. Talk to people in the industry you want to enter to find out what your education and experience are worth. And after you started your job keep talking to people, so you always know your status on the market.
15. Define your own success, it doesn’t always come from money (satisfaction/dreams/life goals)
Happiness is what we are all trying to accomplish. But people are motivated by different things, so make sure to know yourself and your motivation.
16. Mind Your Priorities
Remember to take care of yourself physically and mentally. You will need hobbies and good friends. And always take your vacation – you need the break to relax and recharge.
17. Work Doesn’t Define Who You Are
And the final tip, recognize that work is not your identity. It doesn’t define who you are. It’s amazing to have pride in your work and to love what you are doing but always remember that you are much more than this.
I hope these 17 tips for the start of your career I wish my younger self knew, help you when you are starting out. After all, we are here to learn from each other, aren’t we?
And if you need some advice for your first day of work, check out Hannah’s article about 5 Important Things to Check Before Your First Day of Work.
Be right back,