First, manage your career because no one else will.
When choosing a job, be confident enough to ask yourself “Does this add to my career capital?” Is this something I really love to do? Will this job be a great next step?” I pursued a career path that was in an industry I loved (financial investments) but I was in a job that I hated (stockbroker). My advice to you if you find yourself in this situation is before leaving the industry, it is important to explore other career paths within the industry. Financial planner? Financial analyst? Fund Manager? Do some brainstorming and informational interviewing within the industry you love to find out what else is possible. The best ways to get your creative juices flowing is coffee shop with some great creative books or magazines or online blogs. Think Fast Company (www.fastcompany.com).
Second, seek out a mentor. Everyone needs a mentor. You might have different mentors at different stages in your career, but they are important. Remember that mentors are rarely colleagues and not easy to find.
Third, It matters who you spend your free time with.
Who you choose as your friends and partner will matter. As the years march on, who you hang out with, who you choose as your partner, really does matter. Watch Meg Jay’s Ted talk on Your Defining Decade.
Find friends who support, advise and push each other as you make your way deep into your career and life. It will be fun to manage your career if the people you are spending your free time with are doing the same.
Push yourself to be uncomfortable. Have a career bucket list. Allow yourself the time and space to continually ask yourself “What do I want? What do I love? What are my gifts? Where are my growth edges? That requires a depth of self-knowledge and connection that can only positively affect your life choices. For example, if you want to work internationally, put yourself out there. Tell your company. Be strategic. Learn languages. Be culturally flexible. At the beginning of my career, my generation stayed put in the cities they grew up in. What differentiated me was that I moved to various large cities in the United States. San Francisco. Los Angeles. Atlanta. Minneapolis. Finally Boston. My willingness to be uncomfortable, displayed a flexibility and adaptability that helped me to manage my career and offer a perspective that employers appreciated. Check out Sohan Gokarn talk about how to stand out.
And Last, dance and dance every day. Sounds absurd but dancing helps you to connect with your true self. It is there that you will find all your answers.
What do you think of this advice? Leave your own thoughts in the comments below!
Sharri Harmel works in career development at Northeastern University.. She loves international travel, creative thinkers and good books, all with equal passion. Tweet at her about the article @careercoachNU!