Navigating your early twenties isn’t easy. If you’re lucky enough to be starting out on your third decade you’re likely filled with energy and ambition – eager to carve out a successful career. But you’re also probably uncertain about which choices to make.
This strange mix of feelings can be very disorienting and frustrating for people at the beginning of their careers. Things aren’t helped by the fact that friends and family usually have strong opinions about which path is best.
So what should you do? Should you follow tried-and-tested wisdom? Or should you take a more novel approach? While the decisions are always your own to make, here are a few pointers that might nudge you in the right direction.
1. You Should ‘Follow Your Passion’… But There’s a BIG Caveat
The advice “find your passion” is one of the most well-worn career cliches going. You’ve probably heard it multiple times. And there are dozens of variants, like “do work you enjoy,” “follow your bliss,” and, “if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
But “find your passion” isn’t necessarily good advice. And there’s at least one scientific study that backs this up. Instead, it’s just as vital to cultivate high-value skills that can be leveraged for freedom, financial rewards and respect from your peers.
As Cal Newport says in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: “passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”
If you do feel a tug towards a particular kind of work, honour that inclination. But don’t feel that you have to find your “one thing” before you can get started.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment With Different Jobs (Or Go it Alone)
Traditional advice argues that moving between jobs is generally a bad idea – it looks bad on your resume and makes it difficult to climb the corporate ladder. But is this true?
Research shows that millennials are much more likely to sample multiple jobs before they “settle down”. And many experts and business people recommend that twenty-somethings should experiment with different careers and even set up their own companies if they want to.
Your twenties are a relatively low-risk period of your life. You’ll have few financial commitments, an abundance of time and, crucially, little to lose. Now is the time to experiment and discover the work that you find genuinely fulfilling.
3. Develop Your Job Application Skills
Being able to write compelling cover letters and perform well in interviews aren’t the most exciting skills, but they’re essential if you want access to a wide range of jobs. Commit to developing this expertise sooner rather than later and take advantage of any training that’s on offer, at your college or elsewhere, in your early twenties.
Here’s the good news: most people don’t devote any time to mastering these all-important skills. Put the effort in now and you’ll give yourself a significant head start when applying for jobs.
4. Prioritize Your Wellbeing and Work-Life Balance From the Start
Research shows that work-life balance is one of the strongest indicators of happiness at work. And happier people are more productive, creative and financially successful.
It’s easy to sideline wellbeing, especially when you’re starting out and eager to make a positive first impression. But doing so will almost certainly have the opposite of the intended effect.
It’s never too early to foster work-life balance and create the circumstances that will allow you to feel satisfied at work.
Ensure Your Success With EU Business School
The corporate sector is filled with exciting and rewarding opportunities for people that are beginning or reorienting their careers. Whether you want to work in a global company, run your own business or change the world through ethical, mission-based work, you’ll need to draw on a wide range of skills and experience.
Our courses, which include three-year bachelor’s degrees, one-year masters and a range of MBAs, equip you with the tools and hands-on industry experience you need to build a successful career in business. Students are taught by some of the world’s leading business minds and can take advantage of ongoing networking opportunities.