Things I Wish I Knew Before I Embarked On My Professional Career ✍️

It’s summer, and that means people have already graduated and they’re looking to take those all important next steps in their careers (whether it’s choosing to educate themselves further by applying to take on more coursework or whether it’s applying what they’ve learned in a career field, it’s all happening now). So, obviously, the time is now to share a post on what I WISH I knew back when I had just graduated (and even what I wish I knew before I had even started university). So, let’s get into it…

#1. Know where you want to go (and always follow your passions)

It took me some time to figure out what kind of job I wanted to have after University, and I figured it out after I graduated from university! I started in the wrong major: as a social work student, I was uninspired and dissatisfied. I was initially encouraged to do social work by my family because it’s a secure field that pays a stable salary. But when I got in, I absolutely hated it. When I switched into English (after hearing English majors talk about going to their advisors – a lightbulb moment!) I felt alive again. I had always loved reading and writing, but I had no idea that I could or should do it as a major and make a living out of it (by moving into the various streams that English allows you to do). If I had known from high school, I would have taken internships and I would have gotten my legs in sooner. If I had known, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time trying to figure it out in another major. I wish that I had just gone with my passions in the first place because everything truly falls into place when you do.

#2. Have goals (and write them down)

There are things that I want to accomplish in my career (big and small things), and that knowledge only came about after I thought deeply, wildly, and limitlessly about where I would like to see myself in the next five and ten years. Of course, if you read my goal setting post back in January, then you’ll know that I write my goals down. What I didn’t mention in that post is that I write down my super long-term career goals too. I do this because when I write my goals down, it helps me to measure what steps I need to take to reach them. Goals also keep you going in your day-to-day life and they keep you from being complacent and stale. They give your purpose in your career, and in your life, and they stop you from settling for less than what keeps you learning and growing and advancing. That’s important.

#3. Get a mentor

My mentor told me that my B.A in English would always be useful and relevant. No one around me agreed with him (not that they spoke to him directly about it), but I believed in him at first because I was desperate to and then because it really makes sense when you think about it. I’m a Writer and Blogger who is passionate about writing, social media, marketing, and the digital age that we live in. What on earth would I do with a social work degree (if I actually completed that degree)? Absolutely nothing that I’m passionate about, that’s what. The point that I’m making is this: yes, there are some obsolete degrees out there, and they are degrees that I have no idea why people are actually doing them, but if you have enough passion for it, and you know what you want to do with it, and you have a mentor (like mine who told me to keep blogging) then you can do something with your degree, I can guarantee you of that.

#4. Take advice (from people you don’t expect to give you any)

Once, a person I interviewed with told me that my resume and cover letter were good, but I didn’t have enough on the job experience. Now, back when I started applying for jobs, of course, I didn’t have enough experience but that didn’t stop her from calling me (so sue me!). So, what did I do? I continued on with this blog, I started thinking about taking on more internships, I polished my skills further, and I decided to conclude that any employer would be lucky to have me, my drive, my talents, my abilities, and my focus. So, I think that when someone unexpectedly gives you advice (from outside of hiring process or through the hiring process) I would advise you take it with humility and see what you can do with it.

So, those are my tips. I hope you enjoy reading my advice and I hope that it’s useful to you. Have I missed anything? Let me know (in one way or another)!

– Adaora

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