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20 Things I Wish I Could tell My 20 Year-Old Self About Work
1) Don't know how stuff works? Ask questions. No one will think you are stupid for asking obvious questions. They might, however, judge you if you don't know those answers one year into the gig. Ask questions. Ask them now.

2) This might sound obvious, but take some time to think about what you want to do and who you want to be. Don't just follow your bliss or the people you dig. Plan a little and really think about whether you'll be comfortable with the values and challenges tied to the area you're working in. Indulge your imagination in big words like "legacy". 

3) If you are pretty sure you're in the right field for you, imagine the future of your industry 5 years from now, and point your efforts in that direction.

4) Think about how you will age in your field. Are there any 50 or 60-something women there? Why not? Do you want to change that?

5) Don't bitch with your colleagues about your co-workers if at all possible. It's a slow-seeping poison that feels good at first, but leaves a bad taste in your mouth and keeps you frozen in a point of conflict. If you need to vent, save the bitching for someone who does not work with you, like your boyfriend.

6) No matter how much smarter you think you are than your boss, you arrogant sop, it's still your job to make them look good.

7) Sometimes you need to manage your manager. Manage their expectations, teach them how to manage you. Let them know what you are up to each week. Give them honest and clear feedback when possible. Acknowledge when honest dialogue is not possible and quietly look for other work.

8) Take criticism. Ask for it. Learn from it. Don't get defensive, even when you think it's way off. Ask yourself if your indignation is your ego. Then wait 24 hours and ask yourself again.

9) You won't always share the values of the people you work with, but it's really important to find reasons you respect them. Because it makes works so much better. And because people can always sniff out your contempt.

10) Have a rich social life outside of work, with people you don't work with every day. Because some friendships dry up when you leave a workplace.

11) Bring your lunch, but take a break.

12) Do your job, but spend some extra time getting good at the thing you are interested in.  You know how they tell politicians to answer the questions you wish you'd been asked? Sometimes, you have to do the job you wish you'd been given. You'll be surprised at the kinds of opportunities to learn stuff outside of your specific job description. This will serve you well in your next job.

13) You can have all the smarts and creativity in the world, but without a method in place, you won't get to put those great ideas into action. Establish systems and processes for each job that help you manage your time and map your projects. Take  the ones that worked from that job into your next one.

14) Once a quarter, try something new that hasn't been done before in your position. This could be social facilitation (organize a pub night/book club) or a new project.

15) Be kind. You spend most of your waking hours in this place. Spread a little love. Don't dominate with your moods.

16) Don't get frozen and stuck in one position, just because it's comfortable. Movement is always a good thing, and it's also expected. Be open and curious about job change (this does not mean you have to be scheming).

17) Sometimes everything comes together in a workplace. Great gig, great people, good pay. Celebrate this moment while it lasts.

18) Sometimes everything is just a few degrees off, and isn't the right fit for you. Give it a reasonable chance, but don't stick around trying to fix it, thinking it will get better. Like anything in life, some things are just not the right fit, even though they have some good parts.

19) Work hard. And this sounds lame, but there's this thing called optics. You need to also be perceived as working hard, but not sweating it. On some level, everywhere you work, people get competitive over who on the team is the hardest worker. Don't play that game but be able to quantify your progress in a meaningful way and remember the first part - work hard, demonstrate you are working hard, but don't look like you are sweating it.

20) You are not your job. But there is always some pride to be had in doing your job well, even if the job is 'not your thing'. Be gracious.

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