Ever wished you could go back and talk to your younger, twentysomething self? You know, the one who was just starting out and could have used some sound career advice—or at least a bit of reassurance that you were doing the right thing?
While you can’t go back in a time, you can pay it forward. Hindsight is twenty-twenty—and some of the best insights come from past experiences.
That’s why we asked well-established professionals across the country to share their career lessons learned, everything from wishing they’d saved more of their paychecks to taking the plunge with a riskier job—and, of course, what they didn’t know then that they’d pass on to their younger selves now.
1. Weigh That Career “Growth Opportunity” Carefully
“I was six months into my first job out of college in the mortgage industry and flourishing. I was making great money while living in Dallas, and before long, I was offered an opportunity to join the New York branch. On paper, it seemed like a great chance for growth and it included a healthy raise. I was so excited that I didn’t ask the questions necessary to understand if the opportunity was a fit for me and where I was professionally.
By the time I reached New York, that $8,000 raise all but disappeared, and based on the cost of living, I was actually making less money. From a cultural perspective, I traded a nurturing environment full of seasoned professionals who were invested in my professional success for a bottom-line-driven environment full of young sharks trying to make their mark.
[I learned] it’s important to carefully evaluate every ‘growth opportunity’ against your skills, values and personal opportunity cost. Sometimes when opportunity knocks, we have to look through the peephole before we answer.”
—Brian Lawrence, 32, career counselor, St. Louis