She Leads Africa: 10 Things to Accomplish in Your Career While You’re in Your 20s
It’s never too late (or too early) to accomplish anything in your career. I do not believe that there’s a calendar that everyone should follow as they go about in life. Advancing in your career in your twenties is not easy at all.
Life gets more complex as we get older and having some guidelines is what every girl needs. To keep the momentum going in your career, there are things you can do to propel you even further.
Read on for the top 10 career lessons you should master in this decade of your life.
1. Establish career goals
In order to get to where you want to go, you have to first figure out where you want to go. Do not be one of those people who think that the career they want will be handed to them without clear planning and execution.
In your twenties, think long and hard about what you want to achieve. Once you’ve thought things through, put in deliberate effort to achieve them. It is rare that things will go exactly as planned, so you have to adjust your plans accordingly.
Imagine your job as an engineer turned out to be such a headache that you cannot bear to do it an extra day. You will then have to regularly revisit and adjust your career plan accordingly.
2. Build meaningful relationships
Any smart woman knows it’s very important to develop good professional relationships. This should not just be internally in your organisation but also with external stakeholders (think customers, suppliers).
You have probably heard the phrase that your network is your net worth. All opportunities are attached to people. They won’t come to you in a vacuum.
Investing in meaningful relationships during your twenties is key.
3. Experiment with a side hustle
Everyone should experiment with a side hustle outside their careers, yes even you. Taking up a side hustle has many pros. It has the potential to not only enrich your life, but also expand your horizons.
A side hustle can be a good way to try out a new career with minimal risks. Also, with a side hustle you can develop skills you wouldn’t have developed at your day job. This can ultimately get you to where you want to be, with a more meaningful job.
Don’t allow your professional growth to stall in your twenties! Take up a side hustle can accelerate your learning.
4. Give back to your community
You can always do more than that by giving back to your local community. There are many opportunities to add value, no matter your financial situation. Don’t think that it is only those who are balling that who can give back. Find out what is it that you care about and look for ways to get involved.
Volunteer for your local church, participate in your company’s corporate social responsibility projects, start your own non-profit or give to a charitable foundation. Whatever cause is close to your heart, get involved in making this world a better place. It needs you.
5. Invest in yourself
Don’t wait for an employer to invest in you. What will happen if they don’t believe in you and your colleagues keep getting the opportunities? Take charge of your personal development by setting aside money in your budget just for this purpose. If saving and accounts aren’t your strong suit, SLA has got you covered with this guide.
Buy books, take courses and utilize free resources. Find career sites to follow in your industry. Do not be too broke to invest in yourself.
6. Get a mentor/sponsor/coach
You are in charge of your own success. But let’s be real, the most successful professionals are those who realise that they need help and ask for it. Identify some people you admire and reach out to them.
A sponsor in your industry of choice can determine whether you grow in your company or don’t. If you can’t get a mentor or sponsor, buy the services of a coach and make good use of them. You will most likey get some tough love, and it might be just you need to succeed.
Getting come accountability in your life is one of the first steps to success.
7. Build your personal brand
Whether you want to believe it or not, you are building a personal brand with every interaction you have. So, why not take charge of developing it into something you admire?
Make a conscious decision on how you want to be perceived by others and make an effort to get there. It will take time to grow your personal brand but once you get started, you will not want to stop.
8. Build an enviable work ethic
When we are young, we dream about all the things we’ll be. As we grow older though, we realize that nothing comes to the dreamer. Instead, the people who achieve great things are those who work on their dreams every time they get.
Your twenties are the time to bust your ass working to prove yourself in your industry. If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never had.
9. Be comfortable in your own skin
I remember when I was just starting my career, I was shy and very introverted, always scared to raise my voice. As I got older, I got comfortable with my personality and what I had to offer to the world.
Too many times, we are afraid to speak out because of inner criticism. Do not be so hard on yourself. Put on some bravery, learn your weaknesses but accentuate your strengths. Demand for your presence to be acknowledged.
The world needs you to be strong so that you can add value on your own terms. And what better time can you start other than your twenties?
10. Enjoy the process
Too many times, we are too obsessed with accomplishing whatever we want that we forget to live in the moment. Do not be too harsh on yourself. Enjoy the beauty that is in becoming the professional that you want to be.
Take it from me, if it was easy, everyone would be the boss of their career. Be thankful for what you have achieved so far. This decade of your life will be gone before you know it. Let your twenties be filled with growth.
Gloria Kambedha is a Ugandan finance professional and contributor at She Leads Africa. SLA was created to give African women the skills, resources and networks they need to take over the world. Do the right thing and join our community to find out more about how we can help you become a #Boss.
Photo Credit: Antonio Guillem | Dreamstime.com