As I dropped my four-year-old off at pre-school, I met a mom who asked if I’d be interested in a part-time job collecting pricing in stores. Thus began my career in market research; something I’d never planned for with my journalism degree! As I look back on the past 20 years, I’ve thought about what advice I’d give to a younger version of myself. These five things stand out:

Advice for younger self


Degrees Prove Perseverance

Get the degree, but understand that you may never work in that field, and that’s okay. The job you end up with may not be on your radar, or may not even exist right now. What the degree really means to an employer is that you were able learn and finish what you started, and those two things will be extremely important during your career. You learn most of the skills you need for the job after you start.

The Power of Y-E-S

Say “yes!”. Richard Branson said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” Accept the opportunities, volunteer for the assignment, and learn from them. There are so many resources available to support you, both online and just connecting with people who do that job. People are willing to help the next generation and pass on knowledge. Have confidence in yourself, and this will lead to others having confidence in you.

Nurture Relationships

Take time to build the relationships, both with clients and colleagues. These relationships will pay off throughout your career. Quite a few of my clients have been clients through several companies, both on my side and theirs. It really is a small world in a shared industry; use LinkedIn and network. Help others looking for employment, and turn to your network when you need a new job.

Be a Quitter

Know when to leave a job. Look ahead and see if there is growth potential in your current role, and if there’s not, then know at some point that job will go away. Always be learning and moving forward. Likewise, know when to leave a toxic work environment. Don’t stick around, dreading work every day. There is always another job out there, and more than likely, it will be a much better job. Don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself and take a chance.

Define Priorities

Find a work/life balance and be happy with it. So many people are busy with their head down, building a career, that they miss out on the important things and relationships in life. Likewise, be at peace with yourself if you do prioritize life goals outside work and never make it to the CEO office.

Career Ladder Cartoon

You can only plan and prepare so much. Life throws you unexpected twists and turns. Change is inevitable so embrace it. If I really could go back in time and leave a message for myself, maybe the only things I would really need to whisper are buy Apple stock, wear sunscreen, and keep doing yoga.

Do you have what it take to be a gapper? We’re hiring. Head to our culture section to learn more about open positions. We’re conducting phone interviews as we work towards flattening the curve.