Navigating your career as a young person can potentially feel daunting. There are so many opportunities out there, but how do you know which one is right for you?
We spoke with Olivia and Cellan, who are currently on our graduate programme, who shared their thoughts on starting out in their careers. Laura, our Internal Careers Manager, also offered some advice on how to overcome the challenges that come with this.
How do you feel about not knowing exactly what your career might look like?
Olivia: It’s exciting and stressful at the same time. On the one hand it can go anywhere with all these twists and turns and the journey is usually the best part! On the other hand, you need to plan which is hard when you don’t have a set career path. I can explore multiple areas of the business on the graduate programme, so this really helps me have a clearer view of what I want to do. We also receive mentoring from experienced colleagues around the business which is great!
Cellan: I think the Gen Z worker is coming into the workforce at an intriguing time. Career progression isn’t linear in the way it might have been for our parents and that’s really exciting. If you want to go down a certain path for a few years and then pivot, the only thing stopping you is your own ambition and willingness to learn. The idea of forging a career seems a lot less intimidating when you realise that the world is your oyster!
Laura, do you have any advice for dealing with the uncertainties of being a young working professional?
Laura: I would say focus on being yourself. Pretty much everyone experiences uncertainties at work, especially when you’re just starting out, so if you can become confident in being yourself and doing what’s right for you, you’ll be fine. You don’t always need a five-year plan, and careers are constantly changing. The job you might end up doing might not even exist today! Also, progression doesn’t always mean moving ‘up’, sometimes moving sideways or simply becoming an expert in the same role can be just as fulfilling. Think about what motivates and excites you.
Does social media make the pressures of being young and early on in your career harder?
Cellan: You’ve got people who appear to be extremely successful shouting about how they’ve done X, Y, and Z by age 25, and that can definitely put pressure on your own expectations of where you should be in life. There’s a lot of pressure on young people to develop their sense of self. This has always been hard even without a constant narrative from hundreds, thousands or millions of other voices on social media potentially telling you you’re doing it wrong. You have to try and make life work for you and your values, rather than trying to please everyone else.
Olivia: I think it puts so much pressure on being young. You see all these people your age apparently achieving so much when you’re just starting out. I know you can’t compare yourself, but sometimes you can feel a bit down that you haven’t achieved what they have.
Laura, what’s your advice on dealing with the pressures of social media?
Laura: Keep in mind that not everything is how it seems on social media. Remember more often than not, it’s just the highlights and you don’t see the full picture. Some of people’s biggest successes may have happened after a string of failures. Everyone is different and we all move at different paces, so it’s important to focus on your own life and your own career.
Olivia and Cellan, do you have a piece of advice that you always think back to?
Olivia: “It doesn’t have to be perfect as someone will always find something they want to change.” My manager told me this on one of my first pieces of work I wrote for a project and has stuck with me since. I would always stress about my work having to be the best it could be, but now I always try my best but accept it will always have some form of feedback.
Cellan: There are two for me. One isn’t a piece of advice per se, but a quote from the England football manager Gareth Southgate where he said, “The goal of me, my staff and the setup is to provide an environment in which my guys aren’t afraid to make mistakes.” I always like that one. The other is that everyone is doing everything at their own pace so the last thing you need to do is compare yourself to where others are at.
And lastly, what would make your career fulfilling for you?
Cellan: Making memories, relationships that endure and leaving a lasting impact!
Olivia: To be successful – in whatever way that means to me.
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