Career Mistakes Women Make In Their 20s

While Sallie Krawcheck’s statement that “if you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances,” may be true there are some mistakes we wish we could have avoided.

Going from student to entrepreneur, freelancer or to climbing the corporate ladder sees many women in their 20s make a few mistakes along the way. Speaking from experience, here are 10 mistakes to avoid making when starting your career.

1. Assuming There’s Only One Route

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One of the biggest mistakes we make when entering the job market is assuming there is only one way to succeed. Assumptions, in general, are a terrible idea so naturally assuming your career should progress linearly is a mistake. Not everyone’s path will follow the ideal: education, internship, work for three years, become a manager and then move up through the levels or change companies until you get to your goal. Instead of trying to stick to the schedule, allow yourself the freedom to experience opportunities as they present themselves. Be eager to learn more and push yourself

2. Avoiding Side Projects

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Side projects are a great way to cover living expenses and also a chance to follow your creative dreams that may seem impossible to follow as a full-time career. Turning down the opportunity to explore part-time work on the side because you have a full-time job is a mistake many people make in the beginning. Side projects can help build your portfolio and eventually help land you your dream job. So go for it, even if it means giving up weekends to complete the work.

3. Wasting time

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While watching tv, going out, pointless shopping, or another leisure activity might sound tempting it’s important to maintain balance. Every free minute is not for wasting or relaxing.

Remember that time is money so if make sure to use your time wisely. Schedule time to learn a skill, practice an old one, or attend a seminar. Take steps to become an expert in your field.

4. Jumping Between Industries

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When you’re just starting out in the working world it is extremely tempting to try out several different industries. Many newbies in the working world will switch from hospitality to fashion to IT etc.

However, Hopping from industry to industry can be costly because each time you switch you have to start from scratch. First, you need to learn the industry, market, people, unwritten rules, etc. This strips you of the chance to become an expert in any field. Therefore when developing a long term strategy pick two possible industries that interest you and look for opportunities within those industries. This gives you the best chance for growth in the future.

5. Becoming Complacent

Sometimes when you settle into a job and you start working there for a while, you become too comfortable in the position. However, it’s important to remember that the working world is always competitive. To stay motivated and always do your best, remind yourself that you’re never safe and no one is irreplaceable in a company.

6. Underestimating Your Value

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One of the biggest mistakes newcomers in the workplace make is asking too little for their salary when they attend the job interview. Be mindful that the salary you negotiate when you first get a job offer is the most important negotiation you will need to make at the company.

If you go too low at first, negotiating a meaningful raise, later on, will be extremely difficult without getting another job offer or threatening to quit both of which are extremely risky routes to take. Thus, make sure you ask for more than you think a company will pay you and do not undervalue yourself. If you ask for much more, you still stand a chance of getting a little bit more than you initially expected.

7. Not Following Your Interest

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This is often a controversial topic. Some believe that you should always follow your passion while others believe you shouldn’t.

However, usually, those saying it’s not important didn’t follow their passion. From someone who decided to follow my own path and dream, sticking to your interests is often more rewarding than not. Work will challenge you in ways you don’t expect. Enjoying the challenge will often be the key to success.

8. Refusing Help & Advice

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Finally, you earned your degree and landed your dream job. That means you know what you’re doing right? Wrong. The real world is not as simple as our textbooks lead us to believe.

Ignoring the advice and guidance from people in the company and industry can lead to some big mistakes. Always remind yourself that practice is different from the books. Stay humble, listen to ideas and advice, and most importantly ask for help when you’re stuck.

9. Sticking With A Job You Hate

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Do you know that saying; if you hate waking up on Mondays change your job? It rings true. Why stick with a job that demotivates you?

If you truly hate a job you will never succeed doing it. Instead of sticking with it and waiting for your dream job to call you, come up with a plan to get out of the terrible job and land the one you want. Work for your dream.

10. No Vacation

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Remember to take your leave days. It is important to take a vacation and if you are not expected to work do not take on work! Resting helps you avoid burn out and will make you more productive in the long run. Balance is the key to finding true success in life.

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