What career advice would you give your younger self?

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Written By RobertMaxfield

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I was career clueless

When I graduated from Sussex University in England many years ago with a degree in Computing and Artificial Intelligence, describing me as clueless about business would be kind at best. My knowledge of business careers was about as good as my taste in haircuts.

I was from an academic family and we loved debating ideas. But there were no conversations about how best to choose, navigate and manage a career. I didn’t have the first clue about what industry I should choose or what roles I would like.

It was a case of I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I didn’t dive into career fairs or talk to career services. I didn’t take career affinity tests. And the conversations with my fellow classmates were about computing and not about jobs. I was blissfully ignorant.

But I was good at computing and I also worked really hard and got good grades. So I stumbled out of university into programming and somehow ended up on a path that saw me help launch an early internet service, MapQuest, that was sold for over $1B in 1999. And this led to a place at Harvard Business School. And this opened up a world of possibilities that I could never of imagined as a young and hairful student.

A chance to share career advice

Sorecently when I was asked to give a career talk to students at my alma mater, Sussex University, it was a chance to reflect on lessons I have learned in my career. And this made me curious as to what lessons had others in my community learned.

I am honoured to have an incredible network of people from around the world that span industries from finance to technology to law to government. My network including captains of industry to entrepreneurs that have retired with bank accounts with many digits behind it to those who have chosen to have a more balanced approach to their time and paths. And my network includes friends at many different stages of their career from recent graduates to retirees.

The reponses came thick and fast. Earlier posts stimulated others to reflect on the lessons they had learned. One of the benefits of ageing is that we do get to learn life’s lessons. Or as Oscar Wilde said “with age comes wisdom”(though he did note “that sometimes age comes alone.”) Many of you were keen to share that wisdom.

There were ten broad themes that emerged. And, boy, do I wish I had known these ten when I was a graduating student. I am not sure I would have listened had I been told, but I offer it in the hope that others might find our collective wisdom useful. And there is a lot of wisdom here!

So these are the ten themes:

  1. Passion
  2. Confidence
  3. Mentorship
  4. Resilience
  5. Continual learning
  6. Risk taking
  7. Facing fear
  8. Networking and sales
  9. Humility, and
  10. Dreaming a (big) future.

Read more at: https://medium.com/@sgreenman/what-career-advice-would-you-give-your-younger-self-i-wish-i-had-known-these-ten-things-6bade6b3279a