Although I have been steadily employed since graduation, I’ve made many mistakes along the way.
I’ve also learned things that have helped set up the next 25 years of my life. My hope is they help you focus on what to learn, well before your first quarter-life crisis begins…
1. Take Rejection with Poise
By now you should’ve faced some sort of professional rejection. My favorite was having my résumé handed back to me after a job interview.
2. Do Your Own Bitch Work
Empathy is an important trait for all managers. Knowing what it’s like to do the grunt work makes you appreciate those who have to do it after you. Assuming that you are not above anything will help you soar in your career.
3. Craft an Appropriate LinkedIn Connection Invite Request
I don’t mind getting LinkedIn connection requests from random people, but it irritates me when they don’t have a tailored message and instead use the standard LinkedIn invite line. Here’s an idea for something that could work: “Hi Jenny, I noticed we both work in the Chicago marketing scene and wanted to connect with you. Maybe I could buy you a cup of coffee/tea in the near future to learn more about what you do?”
4. Ask for a Raise
When you’re worth more than you earn, you need to know how to ask for more. After being out of school for three years, learn how to broach the topic. Not sure how to do that? Read this.
5. Delegate Work
Delegating responsibility is underrated. By 25, you should know when it’s appropriate to delegate and how to do it. For example, if someone asks me to perform a task that is within my power, but I don’t have the time for it, I look for the colleague it makes most sense to perform that task regularly, and ask him or her to do it.
6. Pick Your Battles
Not every battle is worth fighting; you should know which are worth your time and energy. Getting upset with the way someone sends incessant emails takes a backseat to someone who fails to communicate important pieces of information.
Once you answer that work email at 11 p.m., you set a precedent that you’re available 24/7. Unless it’s an emergency, try not to check your work email (or mark it unread and deal with it when you get to the office).
8. Put in Your Two-weeks’ Notice
If you’re lucky enough to have loved your first job out of college and are still there by 25, bravo! But you should know how to tactfully put in your two weeks’ notice, if you make a career move. This requires a written resignation. Here’s a great guide on doing the dirty deed.
9. Tactfully Give Your Business Card at a Networking Event
No one likes the business card ninja who swoops in, throws his or her card at you, and leaves you stunned. First, have a conversation with someone. Find out stuff you have in common. Then offer your card as a way to stay in touch.
10. Avoid Getting Sloppy at a Networking Event
An open bar doesn’t give you permission to act like you did at college frat parties. Have a few drinks to loosen up, but keep it professional.
11. Prioritize Your Time
For example, tackle your bigger work issues toward the beginning of the day and save your smaller, less important tasks for the end of the day when you’re winding down. Remember: There’s always tomorrow.
12. Set Professional Goals
You want accomplishments on your résumé, not just finished tasks. Setting annual professional goals will set you on track to advance your career. Meeting mentors in your industry through networking events and LinkedIn will help you realize what goals you need to prioritize.
13. Send an SOS
Chances are you’ve felt overwhelmed by your workload at least once in your career. Knowing when and how to send a help signal to your manager and or co-workers is essential to preventing burnout.
14. Conduct an Interview
Knowing how to interview someone is an important skill. Not only does it teach you how to ask the right questions, but also it teaches you what skill set and personality you value in yourself and your potential co-workers.
Communication, when done well, sets you apart from other young professionals. Good communication is a strong asset, so learn it while you’re in the beginning stages of your career. For example, when emailing project specs, I copy as many people I think will benefit from the discussion. Bringing someone in during the later stages of development could mean painful—and unnecessary—back-peddling.
16. Handle Being Caught Venting About Co-workers
It happens to the best of us. Your co-worker commits a major faux pas, and you need to vent about it to another co-worker. Then you get caught. Knowing how to turn it into a dialogue with constructive criticism—or knowing how to avoid it all together—is important.
17. Not Sweat the Small Stuff (You’re not Curing Cancer)
Unless, of course, you are curing cancer. Then disregard. Ask yourself, “Will this matter a year from now?” If not, don’t sweat it. Acknowledge your mistake and learn from it.
18. Invest in Your 401(k)—or at Least Think About It
19. Be a Team Player
No one likes a selfish co-worker. Learn this healthy habit early in your career to get ahead of those who didn’t. You can operate under the “CYA” (cover your ass) mentality, just make sure it doesn’t turn into a “TUB” (throw under the bus) one.
20. Talk to the CEO of Your Company
Get sweaty palms talking to authority figures? Nix those nerves now.
21. Lead a Meeting
You’ll need to learn how eventually, why not get it out of the way before you turn 25? Have a meeting agenda, and make sure you open it for discussion as often as you can so you’re not the only one talking. Also, you can take it one step further by following up with action items and decisions made during the meeting.
22. Ask for Time Off Without Feeling Guilty
You earn your time off, so it’s important to take it with a clean conscience. If you’re planning on having a “Treat yo self” day, look into local brewery tours, daytime trapeze classes, or some simple retail therapy.
23. Put Together a Visual Report
Putting information into a strong visual report speaks volumes more than just throwing the numbers onto a spreadsheet and clicking send. About 60 percent of people are visual learners, so it’s important to make your information pop with charts and graphs.
24. Give Your Elevator Pitch
Since I work for a small company, the question I get asked the most is, “What’s Ragan?” It took some practice, but I finally got my company’s elevator pitch down a few months after joining the team. Not sure what yours is? Listen to what your co-workers say.
25. Be a Mentor
By the time you’re three years out of college, you will have had at least one younger person ask you for career advice. Understanding the impact you have as a mentor is powerful, and the relationships you have with mentees can be some of the most rewarding ones you’ll have in your mid-20s.
Let me know if you agree, or what you would add to this list, in the comments below!
About the Author: Jenny Fukumoto is the Marketing Manager at Ragan Communications. For the past two years, she has overseen Ragan’s digital marketing and contributed to Ragan’s publications, PR Daily and the Millennial Mafia blog. She is also a self-proclaimed Mexicanese marketer, beer buff and networking nerd.
Fukumoto specializes in email marketing, digital advertising, copywriting, content marketing and marketing analytics for Ragan’s line of B2B training products. Fukumoto received her degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter!
This post originally appeared in PR Daily. We thank the author for allowing us to share with the YouTern community!