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Why it's important to take career risks in your 20s

By Jana Angeles

Being in your 20s is all about figuring out your identity and what you want out of a career. It’s a crucial time where you get to explore different opportunities and also gain important transferable skills that are relevant to the workforce. 

With the growing number of millennials being attracted to jobs within the “gig economy” or positions where flexible working arrangements are available, young people are now taking the opportunity to own their career in different ways compared to baby boomers who thrive on the idea of company loyalty.

One of the advantages of being in your 20s is that you have less responsibilities on your shoulders, with most identifying this time as your “selfish years”. If you’re just starting out in your 20s and hesitant about taking a less than conventional route when it comes to your career path, here are some worthwhile reasons why it pays off to take risks at this stage of your life:

Why should you take career risks in your 20s?

  1. You’ll bounce back from your failures.
  2. You’ll have time to explore your current interests.
  3. It will help expand your network.

1. You’ll bounce back from your failures.

failure to success concept

Your 20s are the primetime when it comes to experiencing life and its opportunities. 

It may be a stage where you’re overwhelmed by choice, and still figuring out what you want to do as a professional. Being this young and resilient, you’ll be able to travel and work abroad, undertake internship opportunities and navigate through a number of jobs along the way to figure out your likes and dislikes in a position. 

You could also have some ideas in the pipeline you may want to turn into reality, whether that be turning your hobby into your own business, or simply want to live abroad in a different country and immerse yourself in its culture. 

While there are upsides to having the freedom of doing what you want in your 20s, there will be times where you will experience failure and hardship. 

Being this young, you will have the resilience to bounce back and adapt to the changes ahead of you. You may go through periods where job searching isn’t going too well and you’re rejected from your dream job, or perhaps your side hustle hasn’t taken off the way you want to. 

Taking the opportunity to appreciate the invaluable lessons you have gained from your experiences will not only make you more open when it comes to your career path, you will realise that there is no simple formula for getting into the industry of your dreams. 

It takes a lot of hard work and motivation to get through your shortcomings, and sometimes a little attitude adjustment is needed to push through and make the most of your own potential.

If you’re feeling lost in terms of career path and not too sure how you can make the most of your 20s, you can explore some potential career outcomes using Upskilled’s ‘Your Career’ tool. Jobs are listed according to each different industry such as logistics, marketing and business, listing skills and qualifications you’ll need to help you achieve your ideal career.

2. You’ll have time to explore your current interests.

If you have a list of interests you want to explore, your 20s are the perfect time to explore them and discover their potential. If you’ve been writing blogs in your spare time, you may want to turn it into a career in marketing, as well as hone your social media marketing skills to help market yourself to the right audience online.

In an interview with Big Think, clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay explains what you do in your 20s matters, and she emphasises that every choice you make will follow through well into your 30s and 40s. 

While it’s not impossible to reinvent yourself during your 30s and 40s, it’s much more difficult if you have ongoing responsibilities such as raising a family or have finances to tend to such as paying off a mortgage.

Jay says, “Most 20-somethings are terrified of being pinned down. They're afraid that if they choose a career or a job, they are closing off their other options and somehow their freedom will be gone and their lives will be over.”

She also adds, “Research shows that getting going in the work world is the beginning of feeling happier, more confident, competent, and emotionally stable in adulthood.”

From this, we learn how most people in their 20s are afraid to step outside of their comfort zone and would rather experience something that is normal and familiar. 

Being in your 20s isn’t just about finding your dream career, it’s also about exploring the unknown and being comfortable with experimentation. Once you start building your own career path and aligning it with your current values and beliefs, it gets easier and better. 

So, if you have an interest you want to explore more and feel that undertaking a course will help you accomplish your goals, it’s time to delve into what you’re currently interested in and consider studying online with Upskilled - a less than conventional way of earning a qualification without sacrificing your current work schedule. 

3. It will help expand your network.

young people collaborating

In the Entrepreneur article, ‘10 Things to Do in Your 20s So You're Successful in Your 30s’, Deep Patel writes, “No one becomes successful on his or her own. Our friends, colleagues, mentors and acquaintances play important roles in helping us find opportunities.”

Patel is right in this regard since it is our responsibility to put ourselves out there but many young 20-somethings are unaware that they should be tapping into their existing networks when it comes to looking for work that aligns with their current skill sets and talents. 

It’s important to maintain relationships with former colleagues and establish meaningful friendships, as they can introduce you to new people that can help build your professional network in the long run.

You may be an introvert who struggles to connect with people during networking events, or perhaps you don’t see a point in networking because you feel it’s not relevant to your career. While all these concerns are valid, there are definite upsides to networking, particularly if you’re in a competitive field like the music industry

Making contacts and seeking out mentors can set you up well for your future, especially in your 20s. 

Here are some of the other great benefits you can gain from having a mentor:
  • They have inside knowledge: the best way to gain ‘inside’ knowledge in an industry is having a mentor you can work alongside with. Working with a seasoned professional means you’ll gain insight on what they already know, and can teach you the ropes of how to navigate the industry. 
  • They have expertise and experience: working with a mentor means you’ll get to work with someone who is highly experienced. They are the ones you can closely collaborate with when it comes to honing your strengths, and working to improve your weaknesses. This will set yourself up well when it comes to the future and can even boost your soft skills in terms of collaboration and communicating with other people.
  • They are available if you need career advice: if you’re unsure about a specific aspect of an industry, having a mentor that you can get in touch with for career advice can help you navigate through your pain points in your chosen industry. They can also point out things like whether you should upskill by studying a course and encourage you to take on volunteer roles that will benefit your career.
According to Dr. Meg Jay your 20s “are the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life's most defining moments take place by about age 35.” In other words, it pays off to start establishing your networks now rather than later. It also means that it’s worthwhile making connections that help your personal and professional life thrive since this will impact you as an individual come your 30s and 40s.

Looking to expand your comfort zone?

If you’re a 20-something looking for a new challenge, Upskilled has a range of online courses in some of Australia’s in-demand industries where you can gain valuable skills sought-after by employers. Since the courses are online, this means you can have the flexibility and creative freedom to work on your side hustles and explore the world if you wish.

Most courses can be completed within 12 months and you can study at a pace that suits you. Get in touch with one of Upskilled’s education consultants if you’re a career starter wanting to explore your career options today.
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