You live at the most exciting of times. You were born at the dawn of a new era, and are part of the first generation to grow up with the technology that is now shaping every aspect of life throughout the globe. The opportunities in your future are limited only by your willingness to pursue them.
You are also at the start of what will be a 50-year work life and will likely change jobs about every four years. In addition, you may well have three or more distinct careers during your lifetime. However, by the time you hit 50, age and wage discrimination will kick in, and upwards of 8-of-10 of you will be forced out of the corporate world before you reach 60.
The only certainty about your future in this age is that change will be constant in your work. To get what you want out of life—to live a life that is both financially stable and fulfilling—demands that you take control of your destiny and invest yourself intelligently in bringing your dreams to life. Here are the five biggest career-destroying blunders that new grads make:
Blunder #1. Trusting that someone will be there to kiss your boo-boos.
You have crossed the final bridge into adulthood and now you have what you always wanted: independence. Whether you fail or succeed in life, it is now entirely up to you to chart a course for your career, set your goals, and pursue and achieve them.
You are the master of your fate and the future, at last, is in your own hands. You will begin to see who the winners and losers of your generation will be over the next eighteen months by how seriously they work at launching a professional career.
Blunder #2. Believing that your degree entitles you to a job.
No one really cares about what you want. Instead, you have to decide on a target job, learn about that job, and go get it. No one in corporate America has the time or inclination to find you a great job based on your degree and your personal objectives.
Five years from now, the most successful members of your generation will be those who learned about how resumes are built, how to integrate social networking into job search strategies to land interviews, and how to turn those job interviews into offers. These are the skills that pay the bills.
Blunder #3. Failing to understand that successful careers don’t happen by accident.
Ten years from now, some of your current peers will already be failing because they believed that a successful career was something that just happened to nice, hard-working people.
On the other hand, the most successful members of your generation will be the ones who learned how to guide the trajectory of a professional career by learning how to make a job secure, and to identify, pursue and earn promotions. These are the people who took the time to learn when and how to make a strategic career move at the right time and on their own agenda.
Blunder #4. Trying to become an entrepreneur, failing, and never trying again.
Everyone dreams of living life on their own terms, and many young grads take a shot. All too often their efforts are met with failure that usually stems from lack of practical business skills.Then, having failed, they never try again. Yet, almost all entrepreneurs fail before they succeed.
Twenty years from now the most successful members of your generation will be the ones who pursued a successful core professional career and simultaneously used every day as on-the-job-training (OJT) to make their entrepreneurial efforts successful.
Blunder #5. Thinking that you’re young and have plenty of time.
You get this one shot at life. There are no do-overs and there is no time to waste. It is always later than you think, and as you inevitably age, time compacts.
You can guarantee yourself a place, right now, as one of the most successful members of your generation by changing the way you look at adult life. Success doesn’t just happen because you want it. You have to treat professional life as the serious business it is and start dealing with the management of your career as a business.
Start to think of yourself as Me, Inc.: a financial entity that must survive over the long haul, using your corporate jobs to teach you business and how to make Me, Inc. operate objectively in your best long-term interests, so that ultimately you learn to get what you want out of life—and get it on your own terms.