12 Pieces of Work Advice I Would Give My Younger Self

Wendy Robinson | Feb 1, 2017 Money

women workingiStock.com/julief514Last week I got an email invitation to have coffee with a young woman who is just starting her career. She wanted to buy me a latte in exchange for 30 minutes to ask me questions about my career path. In addition to being flattered, I was also impressed. I wish I had been brave enough to ask for advice and mentoring when I was just starting out.

Over the course of our coffee, we talked about work/life balance, negotiating salaries, and how to figure out when to have a baby if you also want to advance in your career. I got to tell her all the things that I wish I had known when I was 22 and had a whole career in front of me.

While experience is a great teacher, sometimes it would have been nice not to learn things the hard way -- which is why I'm excited that 12 women who are currently killing it in their careers were willing to share the advice they'd give their younger selves. This is one to read and share with a young woman you love! 

  • Work Friend

    1

    "One thing that I think is key, and took me too long to figure out, is the importance of having a female work friend who will be honest with you. Having someone who can tell you if your outfit is wrong or give you feedback when you are having an 'Am I crazy?' moment is so clutch." -- Michelle A., Toledo, Ohio

  • The 60 Percent Rule

    2

    "There is research that suggests that men are much more likely than women to apply for promotions that they aren't 100 percent qualified for. This was true for me. I thought I had to meet every single qualification to be taken seriously. I'd tell my younger self that she really only needs to be 60 percent ready to at least apply for it." -- Marion D., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Find Your Passion

    3

    "I'd say to embrace working hard for the first years of a career. That will teach you how to work smart later. Also, find your passion related to your work. Don't be scared to move from a 'safe' job into a different one." -- Beth S., Avon, North Carolina

    More from CafeMom: What Introverts Should Consider Before Choosing a Job

  • Mentor

    4

    "Dear younger self: Ask for a mentor! Don't try to navigate everything without someone to ask for advice. Especially as a non-white woman in a male-dominated field, having a support network is important." -- June P., Oakland, California

  • Say 'Yes'

    5

    "I'd tell my younger self, especially myself before I was married and had kids, to say 'yes' to every project or option for training that came along. You never know what your future holds, and picking up as many skills and connections you can while you are young is smart. I still kick myself for turning down the chance to go through a coding class my boss suggested. I'd love to have that in my skill set, but I don't have time to pursue it now." -- Bailey W., Dallas, Texas

  • On the Move

    6

    "Don't buy a house at 25! When I was starting out, I had no idea how much moving I'd do as my career advanced. I'm 38 now and since I started my career, I've lived in two countries, three states, and six cities. My biggest regret was buying a house that I ended up having to sell at a loss in order to take a great job. Mobility is the key to advancement!" -- Susan B., Minneapolis, Minnesota 

  • Don't Do It

    7

    "Don't have sex at work. It turns out that there are security cameras and, YES, you can be fired for that." -- Name withheld by request

  • Choose Wisely

    8

    "Advice for younger self? Hmm. Well, I'd tell her to choose her first husband more wisely! My ex and I never talked about if he'd be willing to be a stay-at-home dad if my career ever took off. We assumed he'd always be the main breadwinner. When that turned out to not be the case, he wasn't willing to scale back his career to support my career and it was one of the things that made our marriage fail.

    The second time around, I married someone who is thrilled to be a stay-at-home dad to our girls." -- Jessica Y., Phoenix, Arizona

  • Not Mom

    9

    "Don't apologize, remember that not everyone has to like you, and you are not their mother!" -- Sheila G., Phoenixville, Arkansas

  • Teammates Not Rivals

    10

    "I think ALL women should be reminded to support each other. Women still face sexism and barriers. Don't think of your female coworkers as competition, think of them as teammates. There is enough space for more than one woman to succeed.

    Of course, I would also tell her to negotiate her damn salary! Too many women, including me, leave money on the table because they are afraid to ask for more." -- Helen W., Des Moines, Iowa

  • Don't Wait

    11

    "I'd tell my younger self not to wait for assignments or promotions to come along. Change jobs more often than you think you should." -- Michaela A., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

    More from CafeMom: 11 Women Open Up About the Best Bosses They've Had & Why They Rocked

  • Timing

    12

    "I'd tell my younger self to not worry so much about figuring out the perfect time to have a baby. It turns out that there is no perfect time. There are always pluses and minuses, and it will always be a balancing act to work and be a mom." -- Laurie A., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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