Three pieces of career advice I'm glad I didn't take them
In life, theres no shortage of advice, especially when it comes to your career. While family, friends, mentors, and coworkers are all kind, sometimes the advice they offer will not teach you what you need to know.
In my 20-year career working in human resources and now as a chief people officer, Ive realized that the greatest opportunities for growth and learning came from the advice I chose not to take. Dont get me wrong, great insight has been passed down to me over the years, but learning the lessons on my own have molded me along the way. Now, I'm sure to share my own tips on finding growth opportunities with colleagues and in my job programming.
Here are a few of the things I didnt follow that I enjoyed.
Keep your personal and professional worlds separate.
When I was just beginning my career, a well-intentioned family member advised me, Dont get close to anyone at work. Instead, I should be a mystery, they advised, keeping my personal life completely separate from my professional life.
Being able to share my personal struggles as I navigated my career, especially as a single working parent, allowed my teammates, and more importantly, my managers, to assist me in balancing my responsibilities and aspirations at work with my obligations and family life at home. My manager and I were able to determine how important the trip was and whether or not one of my teammates could attend in my absence if a work trip clashed with back-to-school night for my daughter.
This experience taught me that bringing my whole self to work allowed me to reconcile my personal and professional lives, showing up for both when its most important. One of our elf core values at the digital personal finance company SoFi, where Im the chief people officer, is Embrace Diversity. This is a point of significance to me because it implies that all employees can show up to work as their most authentic selves and be able to contribute.
Its all a numbers game.
When I was going to an onsite interview with a firm, the passenger seated next to me said, Unless they offer you $XX, you shouldnt take the job. I did get an offer below that, but I knew that the culture, the work I would be doing, and the growth potential more than compensated for the salary gap.
Its led me to positions that challenge me and allowed me a career based on what matters most to me: how I spend my days and who I work with. I believe in pay parity and earning your worth. However, being more open to ideas can sometimes pay off. Consider not only the salary youre being offered, but also the growth potential that awaits you, the people you'll be learning with and from, and the mission that you will be supporting in driving.
Success is linear.
Throughout my career, Ive also had well-wishing co-workers and friends give me advice on what success looks like and by what age I should be in position X, or what a specific job or career move will appear on my resume. While I'm not without ambitions, what I am most proud of is that Ive devised a career path that works for me and is unique to me. And that often meant going against their advice.
Success can be found on many different paths. This is a conversation I have with my 25-year-old daughter, who is also in the process of figuring out her career path. Many of the opportunities Ive been given are largely thanks to choices made in unconventional ways, as well as being willing to speak up.
Ive found that being open with your manager and identifying areas that youre interested in learning more about, or skills that need improvement, will open the door to opportunities, sometimes ones that may not have existed before.
Had I not followed the advice I was given instead, I might have missed out. While Im grateful to have so many perspectives over the years, the perspective I've developed is that sometimes the best advice is the one you ignore.