I celebrated a birthday dinner with three friends and asked them for advice:
What do you know now that you would advise a young adult entering the workforce?
Here’s what they said:
- Be confident. You know a lot more than you think you do.
- Remember why you chose your profession. Don’t complain. Enjoy what you’re doing!
- Travel and work abroad, especially in your 20s. Push beyond your fear to do what you really want to do. Seize opportunities. When you’re asked, “Can you take this on? Would you like to be part of this project?” say YES. It will lead to new learnings, relationships and doors opening.
I loved how firmly – and quickly – they had a response.
I wish someone had told me, Don’t worry so much about picking the “right” job. You’ll figure it out in time – what you like and don’t like to do, the type of working environment in which you thrive best. Perfect jobs (or lives) don’t exist.
I’d tell “young Laura” that life is a process. Learn what you can and move on. You won’t have one career for the rest of your life. You’ll evolve and your experiences will take you in directions you won’t anticipate. Picture your career as a jungle gym not a ladder.
Since that dinner, I’ve asked a few others for their guidance and they all readily answered. So I ask you the question:
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
The answer usually revolves around a work experience “shortcut” that would have saved you time and perhaps heartache had you only known about it.
Another friend talked about the mindset shift that needs to happen when you become a leader. Specifically, she talked about flexibility.
Too often we focus on creating a career path based on “what is” instead of “what could be.” Your next career step may be a job that hasn’t even been created yet. Think about that. Those juicy opportunities operate in the white space between the clearly defined, already created jobs where you get to grow the most by creating something from scratch.
Get comfortable with uncertainty, meaning that which has not been created yet, and see your leadership blossom. The truth is, leaders don’t always know what to do. They lead despite the uncertainty by forging alliances with peers within and without their organization, building strong teams to execute their vision, and accepting they will learn as they go. They are always “in process.”
Parental Guidance is Advised
As a mom, I want my kids to thrive. I want to share work experience shortcuts as they move to a new life stage. As a former HR professional, I want to help our Gen Zs navigate the working world. Consider:
What advice would you give your kids as they start their working lives?
Send me your advice before Labour Day and I’ll pull it together into an eBook. For those who participate, I’ll give you a free copy. I don’t need to identify you by name if you prefer anonymity.