The MPW Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What should every 20-something do to set themselves up for success? is by Evin Shutt, chief operating officer and partner at 72andSunny.
For me, my 20s were about finding my passions and keeping the important people close to me. If you can keep these things in mind, you’re setting yourself up for a career (and life) that will be challenging, meaningful, and fun. Disclaimer: The following is based on many failures and risks. It’s by no means for everyone, but it is what worked for me.
Look for opportunities
My philosophy in life has always been to set myself up for situations with the best possible outcome. It’s how I paid for college, (playing volleyball allowed me to offset tuition through sports scholarships) how I met my husband (online dating gave me a lot more options than traditional dating) and how I got my first job in advertising at 72andSunny (pursuing a career in my undergrad major). In general, I’ve found it’s much better to have options and turn them down than never have been in the conversation at all.
See also: What Every 20-Something Gets Wrong About Success
Find the fire in your belly
This means a lot of risk-taking and experimenting. Take time to really figure out what makes you tick. When do you feel that ‘fire in your belly’ so to speak, if it’s not in your current job don’t be afraid to look elsewhere or in an entirely different industry. I went from teaching middle school to law school, before taking a pay cut to work at 72andSunny when it was a startup with only three other employees. After a year of working at 72andSunny, I went on to work for a non-profit, then teaching at a charter school, before finally ending up back at 72andSunny. And I wouldn’t change this path for a second. I was following my passions, sorting out the differences between what I felt I needed to do, what I felt others expected me to do, and what I actually wanted to do.
While my career path might seem messy with each role distinctly different, I realized what I loved in each role was the same – being creative, making an impact, and seeing results. I realized I could have all of this at 72andSunny, where coincidentally, I was also the happiest. It’s important to understand that while it may take time to get to where you want, with the right amount of patience you will end up where you are meant to be.
Keep important people close
Surround yourself with friends and colleagues who have the same level of ambition and values. Build your squad. For me, my girl squads (yes, plural) have been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today. Each “squad” played a different role in my professional and personal life. This support base made many of the transitions in my 20s much easier. Whether it’s my sisters, childhood friends, college teammates, or previous colleagues, they all play a significant role in shaping who I am.