Three Gifts For A 20-Something: You Have Ideas Beyond The Year You Were Born

What three “gifts” would you give a 20-something if you were a “Forty-Godmother”? Here 40-somethings share three wishes to help a 20-something get a head start on the confidence to make decisions that are right for themselves. No more woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Today’s three gifts are from a mentoring salon I recently hosted. Five top execs from the publishing, tech, startup and consulting worlds mentored five badass women on the rise! Here are a few of the wishes that came out of the conversation.

Agelessness. You don’t have to make your age a point of discussion. You have ideas that go beyond just the year you were born.

When I started working I was 17 years old. I tested into an early internship program at a big global company so I had my first foray into the corporate world before I even set foot on a college campus. I learned early on not to make my age or inexperience the center point of the conversation. When people realized how old I was it would shift the conversation from the research results (or whatever the meeting was about) to fixating on the fact that I was 6 or 7 years younger than their children? Then they would wither dismiss me or I suddenly became the expert on “youth trends.” You don’t have to reveal everything about yourself at work.

The gift of the gab. There’s a power in storytelling.

Don’t worry about not having a linear career path. You can create a beautiful narrative that post-rationalizes what led you from point A to point B and what you are taking and building from each experience. It doesn’t work in a set path. If you’re drawn to something that requires a career pivot, go chat with, go for drinks, breakfast, coffee, a run or a walk with people who do something even vaguely similar to what you want to do. Have them tell you the honest, not “pitch-perfect” answer” to what their job entails. Ask them to tell you not just what they like about it, but also to give you the dark side of it. You will find things that you can identify with. Use these things to build a bridge from where you are to where you want to go. You can create a beautiful story around it, so never worry about that. Just make sure that you’re giving energy to the things that you’re drawn to.

A foundation to for your passion.

Do what you love. That is a beautiful message in our world right now. I think that’s really important. But I also think an important question to ask at an early stage in your career is “What do I need to learn?” Maybe what your passion is, and what your ultimate career will be, will intersect. But maybe a job right now would be focused on something that’s tangential to what you love, but really focused on what you need to learn. You can use that job to make money. It’s hard because it’s sort of like working two jobs. But if you’re able to keep your eye on the ball and not shortchange what you’re doing to make money, you will be able to build a foundation. Be voracious. Mine the hell out of the job that is paying you for information. Who knows what kinds of cross-pollinations will come out of that?

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