Do you want to make shit-ton of money? Yes. Do you want to do it at a job you love at least most of the time? Yes again. To get there, you're going to have to do some scary things. Now as the editor of Cosmopolitan.com, 10 years into my career (and almost done with my 20s), I have known a lot of young women who didn't do these scary things and ended up realizing they made a big mistake. Remember not to just get your foot in the door, but also set yourself up for the wild and fabulous success you always dreamed of! So much success that you have a fan made of money like Beyoncé (diva is a female version of a hustler, etc.). Suggested listening for the below:
And now, career mistakes to avoid in your 20s.
1. You don't ask for enough money when you interview for a job. The salary you negotiate when you first get a job offer is the most important negotiation you go through at your company. It can be hard to negotiate a meaningfully large raise once you start without getting another job offer and threatening to quit. So make sure you ask for more than you think a company will pay you. That way you will probably end up with a little bit more than you expect or will be happy with. And you won't have to kill yourself getting another job offer to get a fat raise.
2. You wait for your dream job to fall into your lap. Ears don't pierce themselves and jobs don't fall into anyone's lap. Do you think Columbia Records just dialed Beyoncé when she was dancing in front of her bedroom mirror as a child and offered her a life-changing record deal? No. She went out and got her record deal. You have to do the same thing when you want a job — find someone at the company who will talk to you and ask them how to get a job there. Then go and freaking do it! Job hunting in itself is a full-time job, and if you're not prepared to work your ass off to get where you want to be, you'll never get there.
3. You don't take big enough risks. Think of someone successful you admire. Now think of what makes that person who they are as an influencer in their field. Chances are they did something no one ever did before. And chances are when they did that thing, most people around them thought they were crazy or foolish for trying to upend the status quo. If you have a big idea, don't wait for someone to ask you for it, just pitch it or go do it! Even if it makes people around you uncomfortable. You never know how many minds you'll change when your crazy ideas pan out in your organization's favor.
4. You let your ego or sense of entitlement get in the way of your talents. Self-promotion can help your career, but running around demanding credit for everything you do because you can't stand the idea of others benefitting from your talents will only backfire. When you make other people successful, you become more successful.
5. You don't dress the part. This starts at your first internship — make a habit of getting your clothes right from day one. First impressions are lasting impressions, and even if you work in the most casual tech startup in the whole world, you don't want to show up to work like you rolled out of a teepee at Coachella. Put on a blazer and dry your hair before you show up. The last thing you want to worry you got wrong is your outfit, and you don't want a higher-up to get one look at you and wonder WTF you were thinking when you got dressed or why you work there.
6. You take no for an answer. Sometimes you have to ask people for stuff more than once for them to see that you're right. So, don't take no for an answer! If you need some extra money for a project you're working on and your boss says no, come up with a better case and go back to her in a few days. People often change their minds if you master the art of the persuasive yet forceful follow-up.
7. You don't take your vacation. When you are on vacation, if you are not expected to work, don't work! Vacation is there so you can rest and come back to work feeling less burnt out than you did when you left. If you don't ever take your vacation or work through it, you're hurting yourself and your organization because you'll be burnt out and therefore less productive.
8. You spend more time in college worrying about grades than professional connections. Some industries will never ask you about your GPA. Figure out if your time is better spent working on your coursework, or internships and professional development opportunities outside of class, and prioritize accordingly. No one ever asked me what my GPA was or even if I graduated when I was interviewing for writing and editing jobs. Fortunately, I killed myself outside of school to try to get ahead before I got into the real working world.
9. You just take a job after college or after getting laid off because you don't want to keep looking for a better one. If you can afford it, don't settle for something just because it's the first thing you get. Or, take the job but keep looking for what you really want to do. Never settle — you'll be surprised how far you can get when you don't.
10. You let jealousy interfere with your performance. If your peers or underlings do well, don't try to undermine them — tell them good job and act happy for them even if you secretly wish you were getting their praise. Jealousy can make people act in really ugly ways at work. Don't be that evil jealous person! People will only grow to distrust you.
11. You don't apply for a job or push for a promotion because you think you're unqualified. You never know how things work out. If you want something, just go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you get a no or no response. But at least you know — no one can say you didn't get it because you didn't even try.
12. You don't leave a job you completely hate. If you hate a job, don't just stay there and wait for your dream job to call you. Come up with a plan to get out and work for it. Because when you quit that job you hate you will be so happy. Job quitters are always so happy.
13. You don't do side projects because you have a full-time job. Side projects are sometimes the only way to cover living expenses and do what you really want to do. Don't say no to an opportunity just because you have a full-time job. You can find time after work or on the weekends to get it done. Think of a successful person you look up to (cough Beyoncé cough). They don't just do one thing and go home and have a glass of wine while watching Friends reruns — they do a million things all the time. And if you want a career as big as your dreams, you will also have to do a million things, make sacrifices, fall out of your chair because you're so dead tired, etc.
14. You stay late at the office to impress people rather than to work. You do yourself no favors by staying late for no reason. All you'll do is infringe on your out-of-the-office time. When you do good work and work hard, bosses don't notice how long you stay at the office, they just notice that you do really good work!
Amy Odell is the editor of Cosmopolitan.com. Chief amongst her interests are cats and Beyonce. She is a feminist (thank you for asking) and ex-fashion journalist. She is the author of the hilarious book of essays, Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View From Inside the Fashion Industry.
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