I can still remember the first editorial meeting I attended when interning at Style at Home magazine.
I was 23, one month into my internship, and had been invited to sit in on the planning meeting for the magazine’s upcoming issue. My managing editor also requested I bring a story idea to pitch to the team. As I sat around the table with senior editors, designers and art directors, listening to them bounce ideas and feedback off of each other, I was amazed at the breadth of knowledge they had about publishing, from layout to copy to pagination. And when it came time for me to share my story angle, my heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest – I was scared shitless, had zero confidence in my pitch, and couldn’t bear to make eye contact with anyone. I mumbled through my pitch, just wanting it to be over so I could sink back in my chair and go back to observing.
Looking back on that moment from 10 years ago, I often think of how different that experience would be if it was 33-year-old Lauren sat at that table. The Lauren with years of pitching, public speaking and planning meetings under her belt and that had no problem speaking up and sharing her opinion. The amount of growth that took place in my career during my 20’s was substantial – I changed jobs frequently in order to develop new skills and constantly challenge myself.
And it was those years in my twenties that prepared me for where I am now – working for myself and being my own damn boss. So for all of you who are looking for a little guidance in your career, whether you’re just starting out or are simply feeling stuck, here are 9 important career lessons I learned in my 20’s.
1 Work for someone else.
Whenever I talk to recent graduates who are trying to decide whether to freelance straight out of school or apply for jobs, my advice is always the same: work for someone else and learn everything you can. You may ooze talent and feel like you’re ready to unleash your greatness unto the world, but learning how to run a business from someone with experience is worth its weight in gold. You’ll not only gain real-life experience, but you’ll be able to analyze what works and what doesn’t work in their business before venturing off to do your own thing.