What Do You Wish You'd Known When Your Career Started?

As with learning things about university in hindsight, it sometimes takes years (maybe even decades) to get wise about our work. If you were going to give career advice to a novice in your field, what would it be?

Photo by almagami / Shutterstock.

Patrick McKenzie recently wrote this awesome post (he calls it a README.txt for your career) on what he learned after 10 years "and a lot of suffering" as an engineer. Though meant for programmers, there's great universal advice in there, such as positioning yourself in terms of how you contribute to your company's bottom line rather than your job title, why if you want to succeed you have to drop the modesty, and how the best jobs happen through networking. It's a worthwhile read for any stage of your career.

However, we're asking you, Lifehackers: what are the things you've learned since you started working that could help those new to your field or creating a career in general?

Don't Call Yourself a Programmer, and Other Career Advice [Kalzumeus]


    That work gets in the way of your career.

    Find a job that pays in an industry you love.

    Stock options are worthless. Take a tenth of the pay in cash and go to the casino.

    If you really want stock options, make sure they're in the establish parent company, not the startup offshoot.

    Certify early, ceritfy often.

    Always keep your resume up to date.

    Career's suck. Don't work for "the man". Do something with a creative element.

    I wish my perception of 'work' was healthier, it's work, not play after all. I wish I understood that things take time, that there is admin and paperwork and reports and traffic and lame co-workers and bosses that clash with your personality and people who are unreasonable and meetings and meetings and meetings and all that stuff. These things are reality, with few exceptions, all of it is out of my control, so any 'problem' is in my perception or understanding. I wish I'd know myself better.

    Sexism is still alive and well in the media advertising sales industry, and probably other places too.
    I was shocked at this after leaving school, where being female just isn't an issue.

    Stay in retail instead of ending up back there after 20 years of back breaking labor.

      No no no no no! Just no.

      The longer you stay in retail the harder it is to get out.
      It may be demeaning to have to return to retail, but never to have left is just crushing.

    Money comes BEFORE you undertake any increase in work. Either cash in your hand for once-off stuff, or signed company paperwork showing that your very next paycheck will have the negotiated increase.

    If someone's trying to convince you to take on more work, but balk at supplying either of these, they are not planning to pay you for your effort.

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