Careers are long and winding journeys, with lots of bumps along the way. So, when it comes to career advice, the more you can soak in, the better. No matter where you are in your career—from your very first job out of college (congrats!) to your second, sixth, whatever—there’s always more to learn.
The only way to grow in our career paths is to continue to challenge ourselves. We HelloGiggles editors want to help you create the badass career you deserve or elevate the one you already have (because there’s always room for improvement). So we took some time to think about the best advice we’ve ever received ourselves. Check out the dos and don’ts we’ve learned throughout our paths so far.
Don’t: Be shy.
“A former editor once told me, ‘don’t be shy.’ In my personal life, this was never an issue, but as a freelancer, I found myself really nervous to put myself out there—which you must do to succeed in the freelance biz. I started to pitch publications that I thought were *above* me and connect with editors at companies I was interested in working with. I got a lot of rejections and some game-changing yeses, too. At first, it felt a bit like ‘fake it til you make it,’ but soon I gained a lot more confidence in my skills. It truly changed everything for me.” —Caitlin White, News Editor
Do: Stay in touch.
“People always tell you to keep in touch with your previous bosses—and you should. But the best career advice I ever received was to keep in touch with as many people as possible from your past jobs. Stay up-to-date with coworkers in other departments, your subordinates, even your interns. These people will go on to be CEOs, to start their own cool companies, or to launch products that may affect your next job or the ones that follow. Career paths are long and incredibly winding, and you never know what unassuming coffee meet-up will lead to your next opportunity.” —Hayley Mason, Editorial Director
Don’t: Compare yourself to others.
“I’ve been given my best piece of career advice both from journalists I admire and by my therapist: Don’t compare your career trajectory to others. It’s going to make you feel like shit, your idea of their résumé might not even be true (LinkedIn lies!), and it’s unproductive in the end. Practice shine theory, stay in your lane, and keep on forging forward even when your pace feels glacial. No two career paths are the same, and you’ll block yourself from opportunities that are right for you by trying to mimic someone else’s journey.
“Also, there is zero shame in doing work outside your field to pay the rent along the way. Anyone who tries to make you feel crappy about waiting tables or walking dogs (which I totally did) needs to work on their own insecurity.” —Danielle Fox, Social Media Manager
Do: Say no when you need to.
“One of the best things I’ve learned from interviewing working artists and other freelancers is that you can say no, and you can set your own priorities. That could mean you won’t take work below a certain rate, or you won’t do work you don’t care about or find ethical. Of course, you may have to compromise sometimes to pay the bills, especially early in your career, but it’s important to know what compromises you aren’t willing to make. It’s also encouraging to be reminded that you’re not a failure if your creative job is not your only job.” —Mia Nakaji Monnier, Contributing Editor
Do: Go after what you want.
“The best piece of career advice actually came from a friend when I was in an unemployment slump after college. I had been an English/Creative Writing major and was convinced that I should pursue more traditional work for a stable career, and then go after my writing dreams later. Except I wasn’t getting hired for those more traditional, stable jobs. After venting my frustration and hopelessness to that friend, she said, ‘Well, if the ‘traditional’ route isn’t working, you might as well go after what you actually want then, right?’
“So, I started looking for jobs in media and writing, and almost choked on my drink when I actually got hired for one. It was part-time, but it gave me the experience I needed to confidently pursue freelance writing and eventually become the Features Editor at HelloGiggles. It hugely shaped my career trajectory.
“I’m no longer freshly post-grad and unemployed, but those words continue to inform everything I do. When your mind gets stuck on achieving one particular thing because you think it’s the ‘right’ thing, reflect on the reasons why it might not be working for you. Think about new directions you could explore instead, and how your direction doesn’t have to be the same as someone else’s.” —Rachel Sanoff, Features Editor
Do: Create work you’re proud of.
“First off, I write down every piece of career advice someone gives me. That way, if I’m ever feeling down or unsure about my path (which is both normal and inevitable at times), I can turn to the people whose wisdom made it into my little notebook of sage advice.
“A former editor-in-chief once told me, ‘No matter where you are or what you’re doing, make sure that you’re creating a body of work you’re proud of.’ And that really stuck with me. It challenged me to always be forward-thinking, to recognize the little victories, and to keep track of the projects and creations I was most passionate about. That might be a story or piece of reporting, but it also might be a singular task I worked really hard on or an idea I fought really hard for. Now, I’m cognizant of what I’m creating not only for the sake of that next job or opportunity but also for myself and my own professional goals.” —Mackenzie Dunn, SEO Writer
Do: Push yourself.
“A former boss once told me, ‘Never become too comfortable in your job.’ What she meant by this was, never allow yourself to become stagnant, no matter where you are in your career. Even years down the line, if you’ve landed your dream job, there’s always more to work toward. This isn’t to say that you should never feel like you’ve accomplished enough or let yourself form an insatiable desire for success, but don’t ever lower the bar for yourself. There’s always room for growth. Constantly setting goals, even small ones, will keep you motivated to continue growing, in many ways and in many directions.”—Claire Harmeyer, Editorial Assistant