Recently I was invited to participate as a mentor for the NABS West Speed Mentoring event, where I had the opportunity to mentor and share advice with some bright local college students in the marketing & sales field.
Talking to them brought back memories of what it was like to be in my twenties, just starting out in my career. Knowing what I know now, it inspired me to list out the tidbits of knowledge that I would impart if I had a chance to talk to the younger version of me.
It’s a bit of soul-bearing, but hopefully it can help you too.
1. Don’t fret over missed opportunities. You may have just dodged a bullet.
I was once headhunted and interviewed by a very well known and highly sought after tech company. I’d been idolizing the company and it’s founder for years, ever since the company was established. After a very challenging series of interviews, I realized the company wasn’t the best fit for me and I decided to pull myself out of contention. I was quite disappointed for several months that I couldn’t make it work out. But now that I reflect on it, it would have been a disastrous career move. Insiders had shared that I was likely better off. Subsequent roles ended up being a much better fit.
2. Failure can be a good thing. You’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.
I once started a small ecommerce company here in Canada that was ahead of its time. This was before Shopify; I hand-coded the entire site in Notepad. There were only a handful of ecommerce merchant account providers. Google AdWords was just getting started and Google Analytics wasn’t even invented yet. I had many successes, like getting the company featured in a national newspaper and several mainstream magazines. I learned the ropes of digital marketing & advertising (with my own money!). But in the end it was a spectacular failure. Hard to maintain profit margins when shipping a package across Canada cost $50. (Damn you Canada Post!). When I look back at that time though, it wasn’t a waste. the experience and knowledge I gained during that period opened many more opportunities later in my career and allowed me to attain progressive roles.
3. (Lastly) Be careful about what you’re good at. What you’re good at & what you love to do aren’t always the same thing.
Early in my career I had established myself as being a pretty good project manager. As such I was rewarded with project management roles and opportunities by my employer. (Makes sense right?) But the kicker was that although I was good at my job, it wasn’t my preferred field. In the end I had to pivot and convince employers that I was more than a project manager and that I could contribute in other (more personally fulfilling) ways.
Much luck to you in your career path!