Top 5 things you need to know when you start working

Five essentials for young professionals

Publication July 13, 2016

Entering the working world is exciting. Meeting new people, overcoming different challenges and pursuing your dreams is exhilarating, but so much change can also be overwhelming. Avoid cubicle fatigue with these five essentials for young professionals.

  1. Balance work and life

    Everyone says it, but what does it mean? It means this: make the things you enjoy doing as much of a priority as your work commitments. Schedule your gym appointments, dinners with your significant other and catch-ups with your friends as you would a work meeting. You're less likely to miss out in order to work late (obviously there are exceptions – you can't always dash out early to live your fabulous life when a pressing deadline looms) but you'd be surprised how much more productive you can be with a bit of time pressure.

  2. Use what you have

    You might be new at job interviews, but chances are you’ve mastered how to behave on a first date. The secret to interviews is that they are just like first dates – be interested but not too keen, show them how charming you are but don’t be arrogant, keep up your side of the conversation but don’t dominate it. Terrified of attending your first office networking event? Just remember how good you are at talking to strangers at bars. It’s exactly the same.

  3. Live in the moment

    So you have your dream job. Now what? You start to feel restless. Should you slog it out working your way up the corporate ladder or quit to teach English in Asia? Should you save for a deposit on your first property or save to travel the world? Half the time you’re desperate for a promotion and a corner office, and half the time you fantasize about the adventures you could be having elsewhere. The amount of choice available to millennials these days can be totally overwhelming (and social media doesn’t make it any easier). The trick is to remind yourself that you don’t have to have your entire life mapped out immediately. Set short term goals, and put in 100% to whatever it is you’re doing right now. If you know you’ve done the best you could, you’ll be better placed to decide whether you love it, or whether it’s time to move on.

  4. Work to learn, not to earn

    Instant noodles for the third night in a row can get a little depressing. In times of trouble, it helps to try to think of your early career years as continuing with your education with your salary as an added bonus (even if doesn’t stretch much further than beans on toast). Use your 20’s to absorb as much as possible, and learn everything you can from people more senior than you. The idea that your career is a long journey in a single company is old-fashioned and is no longer relevant to most young people. Your career is about your own personal learning and development, and there will be plenty of time to make money once you have the necessary expertise.

  5. Find sponsors as well as mentors
    A mentor is someone to look up to, who can guide and inspire you in your career, and whose advice you trust. Although this is important for young professionals, a sponsor may have more impact on your career progression. A sponsor is someone who is willing to advocate on your behalf, on the basis of their own hard-earned reputation, in order to open doors for you and help you to achieve your career goals. How do you get one? Senior people are usually more than willing to put themselves out there for you once they trust you.

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