Be Thoughtful About Your Career Decisions in Your 20s

two roads girlThe twenties are really about trying to figure out who you are. Looking back on my twenties, one of the things that I wish I had done was follow my passion more. I had this amazing career but I think that I would’ve done things differently if I had really thought about it at the time.

When I graduated from college I drove across the country with a friend. Then I got back to New York and I said, “I’m guess I’m an adult now. I have to get a job.”

I worked in magazine publishing for most of my twenties but the first job I could get was at a small advertising and marketing promotions agency. I had been a journalism major and always loved reading magazines so working on the editorial side of a magazine was really what I always wanted to do. I decided to stay focused on getting a job in the industry.

This was before the Internet so everyday I was searching the New York Times help wanted. I was looking for magazine jobs on both sides – editorial or the business side. I didn’t care what the job was, I just wanted to get into magazines. I found one at Sassy Magazine as a promotions coordinator. I was low man on the totem pole, but I did promotions for this very small , cutting edge, cool teen magazine.

After a while an opportunity came up to move over to the editorial side as an editorial assistant. It was another low man on the totem pole job…but on the other side. In magazines, at that time, the editorial and publishing sides are very separate. Like church and state. I easily could’ve taken it. I knew all the editors and it was mine if I wanted it. But the pay was way lower than what I was making. I was already getting paid nicely with Sassy in the early 90s. And the editorial job was $5,000 a year less. That was real money back then so I ended up passing up the opportunity.

If I had switched it would have put me on the editorial path and then I would’ve gone from there. But instead I stayed on the business side through my full career in magazine publishing. I loved it. I had a great time but it dramatically changed my path from what I studied n college.

I realize now that little decisions in life can really change your entire path. There are big decisions. My decision to move to San Francisco was a big one. But a decision to take this job or that job seemed so minor at the time. I thought this one pays more so I’ll just stay where I am. I didn’t realize that I was really making a decision that would impact the next 15 years of my career. Making the effort to switch would’ve been such an easy way to change the path of my career. I wasn’t thoughtful enough about it.

When I look back. I don’t really regret it. I loved what I did working in magazines in New York. When we moved to San Francisco there was no industry for magazine publishing so the decision to move here was more personal than professional. I work in real estate now. You can start anything any age but you should be thoughtful about why you are making the career decisions you are making.

-40-something, San Francisco, works in real estate and runs a women networking group

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