By: Megan Spanjers
As a Twenty-Something, the ambiguity of your early professional life is like trying to buy that perfect pair of designer jeans online. Consider the drawbacks of such a purchase: “What if they aren’t true to size and don’t fit? What if the picture doesn’t accurately represent the color? If it’s a final sale and the purchase doesn’t work, I’ll end up wasting over $100!”
For a Twenty Something, thinking about a professional career can bring up similar dilemmas: “How do I pick a career path with so little experience? What if I get a career in the field of my major and I hate it?; then I’ll have wasted four years of my life! What if I can’t even get a job?”
Yes, this process is overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to make it easier for yourself:
1. Use your twenties to build the foundation for your dream job.
The first pair of jeans you owned probably weren’t a designer pair. Similarly, accept that you aren’t going to start at the top of the food chain. Apply for entry-level and assistant positions that will give you the experience you need to get to your dream job. Think of your twenties as the decade of preparation, skill building, and resume building to transform you into the ideal candidate. Keeping this in mind can relieve some of the pressure and self-expectations you feel going into your early career.
2. You are not committed for life.
Just like that first pair of designer jeans, you are not committed to your first career for life. In fact, unless you are absolutely certain of the career path you want to take, it is a wise idea to not trap yourself into following a set career path. In this case, take your early twenties to self-discover and broaden your skills and experiences within the fields of your interest. Some twenty-somethings even change jobs as frequently as every two years. It will be much easier to define your ideal job after having had exposure to several work environments.
3. Don’t choose jobs ONLY based on money.
You likely won’t buy a pair of jeans only because you have a coupon for them. Likewise, don’t apply for or accept a job solely based on its salary or commission incentives. Although it can be tempting to take a job that can help you make serious headway on your student loan debts, if it is a job experience that will in no way contribute towards your path to your ideal career, think twice before taking it.
If you can keep these guidelines in mind, your twenties don’t have to be a stressful time in your professional life. Be patient and understand that you will have to muddle through the ambiguity of this time to get to your ideal career, but trust that you will get there eventually!