Career Strategies to Get You Ahead in Your 20s
No matter your age, finding a job and planning your career can be stressful. In your 20s, you may fear that you don’t have enough experience. But if you don’t get that first job, how will you gain it?
Your 20s is the time to take some risks. Your lifestyle can handle some mistakes—or in this case, learning experiences. Interview for jobs that you know can help you to get where you want to be. These are likely going to be entry-level positions, and some may not be challenging or directly related to what you want to be doing. Think ahead and position yourself to move up (or around).
For example, if you want to get into communications and the only job you can find is in customer service, learn to fine-tune and specialize the position. Volunteer to do extra work and take the opportunity to jump in and learn from your managers. Talk the company’s talk and represent yourself well. Dress the part. Eventually you’ll build a skillset that sounds an awful lot like a communications assistant’s job description—because it is!
When you’re in your 20s:
Don't let a job define you
Refine your job, if you can, to gain the skills you need to move on or up.
The work that you do as a volunteer counts just as much as the work you do for a full time job. If you find volunteer opportunities that allow you to grow professionally, take advantage of them and don’t forget to include them on your resume.
Invest in continuing education
You may have just finished school but to stay competitive, you need to keep learning. This is especially true if you’re pursuing a career path that differs from any degrees you’ve earned. Continuing education doesn’t have to mean driving to classes. You can also take classes online, read books, or watch tutorials to gain insights and expertise.
Who you know can be just as important as what you know. Joining professional groups expands your cohort group and automatically increases your chances of learning about new opportunities.
Keep moving around
If you’re taking jobs just to gain specific experience, know when it’s time to move on. It’s important to have a plan in mind about how you’ll get from point A to point B—namely from now to where you hope to end up. If you’ve gotten all that you can get from a job, start looking for a new adventure.
Starting a career is exciting, dynamic, and yes—tough. But remember that you’re not alone. Every successful career begins with a first job and the initiative to keep pushing forward to reach goals. Take the time to talk to a trusted, older friend and learn about the ups and downs they experienced during their first years in the workforce. Knowing that you’ve shared experiences with people who have “made it” in the real world can help to affirm that your perseverance will pay off.
By Chris Newsome