When you're first starting out in the work force (or switching careers), you're on the ground floor and need to find a way up. One of the best paths upward is to say yes to as many opportunities as you can.
Photo by Michael Cory
As NPR creative director Liz Danzico explains, you need every opportunity you can get when you're on the bottom. Later on in life, you can learn the art of saying "No", but first you need some things to say no to.
Recently I've been thinking that when you're younger, you need to say yes to everything; then, when you're older, you need to learn how to say no to everything. I don't mean younger in age, but as a step in your profession. Accept every invitation and meet every person: you never know what opportunity could be at that event you were invited to. Go, meet people, put yourself out there. After you've done that, and have flooded the area, then you have to learn how to close the flood gate and focus. The easy part is opening it up, but closing it is very difficult and probably a lifelong skill.
That doesn't mean you have to be a pushover. You can insist that a first job opportunity be a paid one. But it does mean that you shouldn't be too selective when opportunities come your way. You can learn to say no later.