Being a 20-something isn’t easy. Sure, you’ve got youth on your side, and you’re full of energy and drive, but you likely don’t know exactly where you want to end up, and even if you do, you don’t know how to get there. It’s a time of constant flux and uncertainty, and in a rough economy, when unemployment is high, it can be especially frightening.
Luckily, expert Mary Ray has written a piece for Forbes called “10 Career Tips for 20-Somethings,” and it’s chalk full of great advice. This figures, since Ray is the founder of MyHealthTeams, a successful “social network for chronic condition communities,” according to the official website. Ray admits that as a 20-something, she probably would have read books like Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive” and taken inspiration from her story, but with this list, she endeavors to provide more specific and useful day-to-day tips. Scroll down to see what she has to say.
1. Show Gratitude — If someone helps you out, send an email or text to say thanks. You might even consider picking up a pen. “As old-fashioned as it seems, mailing a hand-written card to a potential employer or dinner party host leaves a lasting impression,” Ray writes.
2. Remember Nothing Is Forever — In your career, there’ll be good times and terrible ones. Keep that in mind, Ray advises, and you won’t get too bogged down in depression when things turn sour.
3. Advocate for Yourself — You know who has your best interests in mind? You. Even if people are willing and able to help you out, they don’t know what you really need to succeed. You’ve got to figure that out for yourself.
4. Never Burn Bridges — It’s a small world, and you’ll almost certainly cross paths with past contacts somewhere down the line.
5. Accentuate the Positive — “Every night, think of three positive things from the day,” Ray writes. It’s an introspective form of gratitude, she explains, and it’ll help keep your spirits high during those down moments.
6. Project Confidence — If you give off an air of confidence, others will have confidence in you. It’s that simple. And if you’re not feeling all that great about yourself, Ray writes, just “fake it ’til you make it.”
7. Keep the Right Company — In both your personal and professional life, it’s important to surround yourself with nurturing people who will encourage you and want you to succeed.
8. Be Good to Yourself — Ray doesn’t recommend going on a crazy shopping spree, but there are things you can do for yourself to make life easier. Trying making the bed in the morning so it’ll be ready for you at the end of your hard work day, and be sure to get lots of exercise. What’s more important than health?
9. Treat Job Interviews as 2-Way Conversations — When you go for an interview, be sure to bring lots of questions. If you land the gig, you’ll be there at least 40 hours per week, so before you sign on, shouldn’t you get a sense of what the office is like and who the players are? Learning this early could save you from making a bad decision.
10. Learn from Your Mistakes — Everyone messes up sooner or later, and as Ray says, mistakes can be “gifts.” “Don’t be afraid to make them,” she says. “Just try not to make the same one twice.”