THE INC. LIFE

5 Career Mistakes Millennials Can Learn From

Millennials should see themselves for what they really are—a generation that’s on their journey to the big bad world of adulthood

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BY Jared Carl Millan - 20 Jul 2017

career mistakes

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

According to experts, 50% of the workforce globally will be comprised of millennials in 2020, 75% by 2030. Already, entrepreneurs can feel this shift in the workforce, and it’s a welcome change. “Millennials don't need to take any lessons from me,” says Max Armbruster, CEO of TalkPush. “They already run the place.”

Infamously called the “Me Me Me Generation,” millennials are the most tech savvy generation the world has ever seen, and yet they’re also considered the most selfish, lazy and entitled (a false claim, for what it’s worth.)

Nevertheless, millennials should see themselves for what they really are, which is a generation that is just starting out on their journey into the big bad world of adulthood, and as such, there are still important lessons they need to learn. And what better way to learn than from making mistakes. Mistakes, after all, are the best teachers.

1. Pursuing a wrong career path

By pursuing a career path that you’re not passionate about and by process of elimination, you take one step closer to the one that you do want to pursue. Be warned, though, this may take a bit more time before you realize what you should be doing with your life. But by exploring uncharted territory, you gain a deeper understanding of your real passions. Not only that, it also equips you with a wide-range of skills that make you a well-rounded individual.

“I’ve worked in different fields in my life,” says Dianne Viray, a 28-year-old millennial who currently works in the F&B field in Singapore. “When I started out I didn’t know anything, so I have to learn quickly. I learned a lot, both personally and professionally because of the different people I’ve met.”

2. Working for a bad company

For Mina Cruzada, a 24-year-old graphic artist from Manila, one of her best mistakes is having worked under a difficult management. As a fresh graduate with zero experience, she had to deal with, according to her, inconsiderate people and work under oppressing conditions. But by being thrown into the deep end like that, she learned how to swim.

“For example, it taught me how to voice out my opinion in a professional way and to always question the management’s decisions. At the end of the day you have the right to decide for yourself whether they have merit because they directly affect you,” she says. “There’s a lot to be learned by simply experiencing what isn’t good for you.”

3. Getting fired

Drastic as it may seem, getting fired can give you a life lesson you won’t learn elsewhere. Now, this is not to suggest that you sabotage your work, but if you do end up being let go, don’t think of it as the end of your career.

After all, Walt Disney was fired. Oprah Winfrey was fired. Steve Jobs was fired. In a conference in New York, Anna Wintour famously said, “I worked for American Harper's Bazaar, [and] they fired me. I recommend that you all get fired. It's a great learning experience.” It’s great because it humbles you, and makes you realize that there’s still a lot to learn and experience.

4. Accepting the first job offer

Accepting the first job offer you get after a grueling job hunt, while isn’t the best career move, can teach you a lot of important things, especially about money. In her Glassdoor story, Lillian Childress says that working for a job solely for the money teaches you the dichotomy between personal and financial successes and how to value both.

“Early on, working for the weekend or for the paycheck might be the only thing that gets you out of bed for that 9 a.m. meeting. And that’s okay—for now,” she says in the story. “If you decide to transition into the field you’re passionate about later, you will have the financial stability to back you up.”

5. Burning out

Exhaust yourself to the point of fatigue. Use up all your mental acuity for weeks and months on end. Spread yourself out as thinly as you can until there’s nothing left for you to give. They’re good for you—at least for a time. It teaches you the importance of taking time off and prioritizing yourself. It’s crucial for every millennial to learn early on the value of their wellbeing. By burning out, you learn to strip off the excesses in your work and how to effectively prioritize your load.