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Advice I’d Give To My Twenty-Something-Self Entering the Workforce –

10 min read

I’m at a point in my life when I think I can fairly claim to know a few things.  I’ve had many years of work experience spanning restaurant, legal, academia, pharmaceuticals and the publishing/film industries. And there are things I wish I’d known when I was starting outSo, here’s a shot at bestowing some of that wisdom on upon the next generation.    

Reputation is Everything.  

Reputation – people’s perceptions of you – aren’t hard to create, but they’re tough to change.  A big part of reputation is likeability.  So be cool, catch bees with honey, and for goodness sake, smile.  

Speed is Important, But Quality Matters. 

You want to get work done quickly, but taking a break and coming back later, or even the next day, can significantly improve quality.  Pausing to sense-check your work vis-à-vis new information of environmental factors is a smidgen slower and a ton smart. 

Keep Secrets. 

Keep Promises. 

things I wish I'd known

There’s a Fine Line Between a Groove and a Rut.  

In a groove you’re confident, you know the niches in which you excel.  It’s a good place.  In a rut you’re bored and possibly stuck.  People might want you stuck.  The only way out of a rut is through change

Save Money.  

Having a chunky savings account can make you less afraid of change.  

YOU Own Your Future.  

Don’t let others dictate where you go, they’re motivations may not be aligned to yours. 

Accept That You WILL Have Bad Days.  

Many days you’ll rush to work excited to pick up on yesterday’s work, but many days you won’t. Working hard can feel really good, maybe even give you a rush, but it’s hard and it’s work. 

It’ll All Work Out. 

You might eat crow, you might get embarrassed, you might be tired, you might fail, you might be wrong, you might get fired, you might get laid off. It might not feel like it will, but I promise, it will all work out.  Maybe not today, maybe not next week.  

Make Friends at Workwith everyone.  

Here’s the thing about people you meet through work… they’re more likely to be different than you than the friends you meet at your kid’s school or your neighborhood and you’ll ultimately be richer with a diverse group of friends.  You don’t know it now, but some of them will be forever friends who can help you on those bad days and convince you that it’ll all work out. 

Take Feedback Seriously.  

It’s easy to brush off or defend criticism.  But, when it comes from a good place, which is not uncommonit’s better to unpack it with careful consideration regarding changes you may make.  

Principles are Worth More Than a Paycheck. 

If it doesn’t feel right in your belly, it’s probably wrong.  Thank yourself for that aforementioned savings fund, because it may give you the confidence you need to say no. 

things I wish I'd known

It’s Okay to Not Know.  

No one knows everything, except that guy who thinks he knows everything.  Most people don’t like that guy.  Most people enjoy sharing their knowledge when you ask: “Can you explain it to me?” There are those who like the extra power of knowing more than you doI call them Bad Witches. 

Learn to Tell the Good Witches from the Bad Witches

I hope you make friends and you’re likable and people answer your questions, but here’s the reality: There are plenty of Bad Witches.  The first step is recognizing them.  The second step is believing that others will see it too, eventually.  Eventually may be a long time.  In the meantime… 

Do a Good Job and The People Who Matter Will Notice. 

You’ll work for a long time, and most of that time it’s rewarding and fun and exciting.  You’ll learn and experience, maybe travel.  

My wish for you, 20-something-Cindy, is that you’ll come out of this work thing smarter, savvier, financially secure, with a pack of friends and colleagues who hold you in high regard and that one day you’ll be able to help the next one in line. 

This guest post was authored by Cindy Callaghan

Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle grade novels Lost in London, Lost in Paris, Lost in Rome, Lost in Ireland (formerly titled Lucky Me), Lost in Hollywood, the award-winning Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ’Em Dead, Just Add Magic (which is now a breakout streaming original series), and its sequel Potion Problems. Her newest novel, Saltwater Secrets, is coming April 28, 2020. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware.  Photo credit to: Lighteous Photography





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