The More You Know: Career Advice You Should Have Gotten In Your 20s

October 21, 2013  |  

Everyone has their career mishaps — even the current president of Barnard College, Debora Spar. She has revealed her share are career snafus  in her new book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection. Spar, who has spearheaded several initiatives for young women including the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, also offers a few tips for young women in her book.

Life is not linear. Rather, it’s full of twists, turns and ups and downs. Being prepared is vital to keeping your career on track.

“Life proceeds in zigzags,” writes Spar. “You really can’t figure out early in your life how to get from point A to point B. Instead, I would say be ready for the zigzags. Find jobs that you like doing. You probably won’t love your job at 24 — to be honest most people by definition don’t have their dream job at 24.”

Don’t make rash decisions, advises Spar. Instead determine what most interests you, what you’re best at, what other role models or aspirations you might have, and move slowly. “Often times if you’re deciding to make a big career jump, say from one industry to another, go for job interviews you don’t necessarily want in that new function. This will provide you with the opportunity to perfect your interviewing skills and to articulate what your motivations are for this new type of position,” reports Levo League.

You can’t do it all. “That’s just a myth and it’s a dangerous myth,” writes Spar. “I would encourage all young women to think about making choices because that’s what life is really about…Look at those choices as broadly as you can and make those choices as carefully and consciously as you can.”

Don’t be afraid to say no. “I have discovered that it is much easier to say no than to say maybe,” she said. “Maybe is what gets you into trouble. Maybe is what makes you feel guilty and worried and sad.”

Own up to mistakes. Some women are afraid to look like that have made a mistake, but it’s better to admit them than to hide from them.

“Making mistakes does not make you a failure. Making mistakes means just that — you’ve made a mistake,” she said. “Get comfortable with screwing up and get comfortable with acknowledging that you’ve screwed up.”

Look for sponsors. Women need mentors–and sponsors. “These will be the people who are not necessarily assigned to you to provide advice from time to time, but also take an active interest in furthering your career. If these sponsors don’t exist within your immediate network, reach out and actively solicit people’s feedback.

These sponsors are not only your cheerleaders, but also your teachers and at times your critics. Spar explained that one of the greatest things that happened in her career was that she had four or five sponsors in her life, all of whom happened to be men. They provided her with criticism on a very consistent basis, which was challenging but also an incredible learning experience,” reports Levo League.

Be good at what you do.  The old adage — be the best you can be — is really the main way to advance in your career.

via Levo League

Trending on MadameNoire

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN