I cannot stress this enough, the connections you make are everything. Especially early on in your career, you need people who are going to vouch for you. It’s not enough just to get your foot in the door, be memorable and use each job opportunity as a stepping stone and networking opportunity. Your colleagues may just become your bosses or employees, treat people kindly.
2. Be prepared
Keep your resume and reference letters up-to-date and ready. When opportunity knocks, it may not open the same door twice. Have an elevator pitch, a 30-second monologue to express who you are and what you do to captive someone’s attention and make them want to invest in you in a minute or less. It’s not just about what’s written on paper- although that is also important. Know where you are in your journey now, where you’re heading next, and what you need to do to get there.
3. Perfect your craft
Spend time investing in yourself, whether that be writing, photography, financial mathematics, dancing.. keep reminding yourself of why you fell in love with what you do in the first place. So many times we get complacent and what we love turns into a job, work that you do because you have to and not because you want to. Revisit that spark. It doesn’t hurt to go back to the basics and teach yourself all over again. Growth is constant.
4. Budget your money
Write it down! Pay attention to what you spend most of your money on, what you need, and what you want. Track your spending for a month, writing down every big or small purchase, down to the $2 you gave to a homeless person on your way to work. Then, take note of these payments as either a need or a want. Limit your wants and search for ways to cut back on your needs, and when you give yourself a budget, stick to it! Set out a grocery limit, a clothing limit, and and entertainment limit for the month. Let it be realistic and maintainable.
5. Make the most of your time
On the train on your way to work you could be reading a book that will help your development, whether it’s something related to your field or a self-help book on spirituality, health, religion, or even to teach you something new. You could also use this time to write, watch educational videos, plan for days and weeks ahead, or get some work done. Don’t look at your downtime as time to waste, but think of how you can optimize your time in the best possible ways.
6. Never underestimate your value
In other words, don’t be working for free. You have a talent and putting in work requires you to benefit from the deal, it doesn’t always have to be monetary but don’t be afraid to negotiate some form of payment, whether a shoutout for recognition or a referral, sometimes even discounts. But don’t sell yourself short not to be compensated for your time. Time and energy are valuable, put a price on yours.
7. Learn something new
Not necessarily in university or college, but take a class to learn a skill. It could be something profitable like how to make and sell a product, or it could be something for fun like dance or piano. Maybe you’ve been interested in pottery, sewing, or a cooking class, but you’ve always found a reason not to go. Ask a friend to come with you to make it more fun. For one, it can be a great way to bond, and two, you never really know how skilled you are at something until you try it.
8. Side hustle
If you have a job working for someone else, make sure you are also working on and for yourself. Don’t spend all of yourself chasing someone else’s dream without working on what you love that will also benefit you financially. A side hustle can be anything you want it to be, anything that will increase your income, whether immediately or in the future, and work with your schedule. Write a list of what you’re good at, and another list of what you can make money at, then cross-reference the two and find something that works for you.
9. Make cash
Find a job that helps you to make cash (legally!) This could be a serving job that pays you in tips, or even selling a man-made product for cash. When you make cash, you’re not paying taxes on it. Plus, you end up always having cash on you. Spending cash as opposed to paying on card, makes you more aware of the money you’re losing. It’s a lot harder to spend your last $20 bill on something frivolous than it is to tap or swipe a card.
10. Get your support squad up
Surround yourself with people who encourage you, support you and motivate you. If you’re friends aren’t trying to move forward, they’re holding you back. And what kind of friend are you if you’re not pushing them forward too?