7 Ways to Get Your Career Right as an Adult
Being an adult is a state of mind. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to roast a chicken or how many towels to buy, as long as you know where to go to find the answers. (Hint: the internet is always a great place to start.)
Ready to join the ranks of competent, bill-paying adults but not sure how to do it? Part of adulting is learning as you go along, so congrats on taking the first steps in taking care of your own business. One place to start—your career. What’s more adult than holding down a job and positively thriving while doing it?
According to a Deloitte study, the average American with a full-time job spent just over nine hours a day at work or on work-related activities. When you consider a person’s career, that’s a lot of time spent at the office, so you might as well enjoy it.
In addition to spending the bulk of your waking hours at work, it’s also likely your main source of money and can have all kinds of other implications for your lifestyle now and in the future. So, taking the time to find a rewarding career can pay off in the long run.
Keeping a go-getter mindset, here are seven ways to help get your career right as an adult:
1. Identifying Your Personal Board of Directors
Having a trusted community that you can rely on can be instrumental in helping you succeed, both personally and professionally. We’ve all been through moments where we just needed to bounce ideas off of someone or turned to a trusted colleague for advice.
Building a network of people you can count on could help you as you move forward in your career. A personal board can give you guidance and constructive feedback when you are evaluating professional decisions, opportunities, or challenges. Consider looking for these characteristics when building out your “board of directors”:
A mentor: a thought partner and role model who helps you get clear on your goals
A connector: a person who has a great network and is excited to make thoughtful introductions for you
A subject matter expert: a person in your industry with deep knowledge in an area where you want to learn more
A career coach: an independent advisor who asks insightful questions to help you reflect and find your best answer. SoFi members get complimentary access to 1:1 coaching.
A credentialed financial advisor: someone to provide personalized advice based on your unique financial situation and goals. SoFi members get complimentary access to credentialed financial planners.
A close friend: someone trustworthy who you can candidly discuss both personal and professional challenges with
Extra credit—A sponsor: your biggest cheerleader and someone you admire professionally who can create opportunities for you
2. Cultivating a Relationship with Your Boss
Most people quit bosses, not jobs. If you have the opportunity, be specific specific about the companies you choose to work for and do as much as you can to find a manager you can respect, work with, and learn from.
Ideally, your manager will be a strong advocate for you and will challenge you to improve while still being supportive. Keep in touch with previous managers who you’ve had good relationships with—you never know when that connection might come in handy.
3. Picking Your Battles Wisely
Upset about the temperature at the office? It’s ok—great, even—to speak up when cultural issues arise and you can use them as an opportunity to advocate for a more inclusive environment.
But you may wish to think twice about your approach before it becomes a personality battle with the person who controls the thermostat. These types of intra-office feuds can simmer and become a distraction from the important work you’re trying to do.
4. Setting Boundaries
Everyone is allowed to have a personal life. Yes, you need to get your work done and keep culturally appropriate hours, but it’s also ok to actually live your life outside of work too. The earlier you can establish work-life balance, the better.
You can use your calendar strategically and block off time that you want to set aside for outside activities, whether that’s a morning workout class or dinner with a friend in the evening. It’s important to take breaks every once in awhile so that you can come back to work feeling refreshed.
5. Advocating for Yourself
Yes, this means you need to learn how to negotiate. In the workplace (and often in life), you are your number one advocate. Are you being paid fairly compared to your peers? Don’t just take what you find on the internet as gospel (at least not for something as important as your salary!)—take the initiative to talk with your peers.
When it’s time to ask for a raise, be prepared with the going rate for someone in your role and specific stats and information that illustrate to your manager how valuable you are to the company.
Ideally, you would do research and speak to three men and three women to get a diverse perspective about how much your skillset is worth in your particular marketplace. SoFi has a free online tool available to help you get your research started.
6. Investing in Yourself
Are you paying yourself first? At minimum, you could aim to have an emergency fund to cover your expenses for three to six months. Next on your list of financial goals? Maybe it’s saving for retirement.
Think you can’t afford someone to help you review your financial goals? SoFi members get complimentary access to credentialed financial planners to help them get their money right. Investing in yourself can also mean taking the time to learn new skills that can benefit you now or in future roles, where you could earn more.
7. Being Proactive about Your Career Path
You won’t hit your goals if you never set them in the first place. A good place to begin is thinking about your personal and professional goals for the next one to two years. Hoping for a promotion? Perhaps you could have the conversation now with your manager to let them know you have this goal in mind to work towards.
Ask what you’d need to do and on what timeline in order to move forward. It’s great to keep one eye on your longer term goals, too, so that every incremental change you make is moving you in the direction you want to go.
More Career Related Questions?
If you have more career related questions, SoFi can help. SoFi members have access to career counseling to help you unlock your full potential at absolutely no additional cost.
You’ll be able to work one-on-one with an experienced career coach who can help you determine what success looks like for you and can even help you define financial independence.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.