In September of 2020, I wrote a very lengthy email to my dad, letting him know that I was leaving my (first) permanent job, to focus fully on building my company. My dad was absolutely not happy with my decision. I handed in my resignation at work on the 16th of October, 2020; and this was my first-time doing something (careerwise) where I did not have my father’s approval.
Looking back, I have taken several risks, some of which include leaving my first internship with a startup (also against my parents’ approval) because I wanted to work in the development sector (despite having no prospects), to quitting my permanent job, and later leaving my company to move to New York and work in international relations, at a moment when my company was just pivoting and scaling.
I will be honest to say most of these were less calculated decisions, and more gut-feelings. I knew what fulfillment and growth would look like for me, and I knew it was not where I was at that moment placed.
Reading the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg got me thinking about career-switching, especially in this generation, which is much different from our parents’ generation which was more akin to security. I’ve been a part of several conversations in this regard, and felt this would be a good place to (re)start the conversation.
On Thursday night, the 12th of October, 2023, I joined The Young Professional UK network, at the Ned Nomad in New York. The conversation was on “The art of career building: why so many of us are going bespoke.”
We had a chat about finding fulfillment in our careers as young professionals. This was a pretty candid chat on our personal career journeys that led us to where we are now, how we cultivate fulfillment – creating a fulfilling career; some tips on taking risk – where we’ve taken risks in our careers and how we weigh up risk vs reward; entrepreneurship – tips for starting your own business; building a personal brand – why and how; and most importantly – the Importance of relationships.
This was by a mile one of the best conversations I have had, and what a brilliant community. I share in this article some key take aways from the various speakers, and some of my own research and tips.
Navigating Your Career Journey: From Fulfillment to Entrepreneurship
Embarking on a career journey as a young professional can be both thrilling and challenging. The quest for fulfillment: the courage to take risks, venturing into entrepreneurship, building a personal brand, and nurturing meaningful relationships are integral aspects of crafting a successful and gratifying career.
Let’s delve into some key elements, and explore tips to navigate the steps of your professional journey:
Cultivating Fulfillment in Your Career
Know Your Passions: Identify what truly ignites your passion. Seek opportunities that align with your interests and values.
Set Purposeful Goals: Establish both short-term and long-term goals that reflect your aspirations. Clear goals provide direction and a sense of accomplishment.
Embrace Continuous Learning: Stay curious and committed to personal development. Acquiring new skills and knowledge not only enhances your expertise but also keeps your work engaging.
Seek a Positive Work Environment: Surround yourself with a supportive and uplifting work culture. A positive atmosphere contributes significantly to job satisfaction.
Regularly Assess Your Path: Periodically evaluate your career path to ensure it aligns with your evolving goals and aspirations. Be open to reevaluating and adjusting your course if needed.
Taking Calculated Risks
Identify Opportunities for Growth: Recognize situations where taking risks could lead to personal and professional growth. Assess the potential benefits against the potential drawbacks.
Trust Your Instincts: Intuition often plays a crucial role in decision-making. Trust your instincts, especially when faced with opportunities that resonate with your aspirations.
Learn from Setbacks: Embrace failures as opportunities to learn and grow. Each setback contributes to your resilience and experience.
Network and Seek Guidance: Build a network of mentors and peers. Seek advice from those who have navigated similar challenges and can provide valuable insights.
Take Strategic Risks: Calculate risks by weighing potential rewards against potential losses. Taking strategic risks can lead to breakthroughs in your career.
Entrepreneurship: Tips for Starting Your Own Business
Identify a Niche: Find a unique niche or a gap in the market. Offer a product or service that addresses a specific need.
Create a Solid Business Plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your goals, target audience, marketing strategy, and financial projections.
Seek Feedback: Test your business idea with a small audience and gather feedback. Constructive criticism can help refine your offering.
Build a Strong Online Presence: Leverage digital platforms to promote your business. Establishing a robust online presence is essential for reaching a broader audience.
Adaptability is Key: Be prepared to adapt to changing market conditions. Flexibility and innovation are vital for the sustainability of your business.
Building a Personal Brand: Why and How
Define Your Brand Identity: Clearly articulate your values, skills, and unique qualities. Your personal brand should reflect who you are and what you bring to the table.
Consistency Across Platforms: Maintain a consistent online presence across social media platforms. Ensure that your personal brand is cohesive and aligned with your professional goals.
Showcase Your Expertise: Share your knowledge and expertise through blogging, speaking engagements, or contributing to relevant publications (wink, wink). Establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Network Authentically: Cultivate genuine connections both online and offline. Networking is not just about transactions but building meaningful relationships.
Monitor and Adapt: Regularly assess your personal brand. As your career evolves, be willing to adjust your brand to reflect your growth and changing goals.
The Importance of Relationships
Cultivate Professional Networks: Build relationships with colleagues, mentors, and industry peers. A strong professional network opens doors to opportunities and provides a support system.
Mentorship and Guidance: Seek mentors who can offer guidance and share their experiences. Mentorship accelerates your learning curve and offers valuable insights.
Collaboration Over Competition: Foster a spirit of collaboration. Working well with others not only enhances workplace dynamics but also creates a collaborative ecosystem.
Emotional Intelligence: Develop emotional intelligence to navigate interpersonal relationships effectively. Understanding and empathizing with others fosters positive connections.
Pay It Forward: As you grow in your career, be willing to mentor and support others. Contributing to the growth of your peers strengthens the professional community.
Building a fulfilling and successful career as a young professional involves a multifaceted approach. By cultivating fulfillment, embracing calculated risks, exploring entrepreneurship, building a personal brand, and valuing relationships, you lay the foundation for a meaningful and prosperous professional journey. Keeping in mind, your career is a dynamic and evolving path, and each step contributes to your growth and success.
All my love,
Previously: Welcome Back!
It feels like just yesterday that I decided I was introducing a newsletter section to my blog, and life got so busy, suddenly it is October. I’ve tried to bring you along on one or two happenings in the year, but the newsletter was on a pause for a while.
I come bearing good news: WE ARE BACK!
Being that this website is my biggest form of self-expression (and really the genesis of all my businesses), I am ever analysing what and how I wish to share. In reflecting, I realised I no longer have the interest or bandwidth to blog, and it makes sense to turn the blog fully into a newsletter.
Featured: Why Build your Personal Brand?
In this era of digital media, there are endless benefits to building and having a strong personal brand as a professional. The question is often “What is Personal Branding?“
A few reasons to become a personal brand: 1. You position yourself as a force in your industry, 2. You attract opportunities, 3. You minimise imposter syndrome, 4. You (can) become selectively famous, 5. You increase your confidence, 6. You take control of your career, 7. You build wealth.
I share in this video 5 key things (As) to think about, when thinking about personal branding.
I am creating a full series on personal branding which I will continue updating. You can watch it here.
Up Next: Telling Compelling Stories
Often, in your professional, personal, and/or creative journeys – you will find yourself needing to “tell your story”. The next issue goes into detail on some of the common ways to represent The Shape of Story.
I consider myself quite the storyteller, and I hope I can, through this post, I can help you tell your (professional / academic) story better.
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In this post, I will share some tips for writing a compelling CV that is nearly guaranteed to get you hired (if you have the required experience).