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  • Writer's pictureAdeleine Whitten

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received? (Part One)

Whenever I start a new job, I always find myself asking my new colleagues or supervisors one question: what piece of advice would you give me?

I've received job-specific advice (“subject lines that include numbers tend to perform better”), company-specific advice (“the cafeteria food is always the best on Tuesdays”), and even person-specific advice (“things tend to get lost in my email, so it's better to ping me with anything urgent”). But it's always been the evergreen, professional-to-professional advice that has stuck with me through every career choice, pivot, and step forward I've made.

One of the most difficult things about being a young professional is never knowing whether or not you're on the right path. Sure, there are a million ways to get from Point A to Point B – and no way is technically wrong – but each decision you make in between helps establish exactly what kind of career you're going to have.

So I recently turned to my network for the best piece of advice they've ever received or would pass along to young professionals, and the response was staggering. Professionals from all over the globe and in all walks of life responded to my question with stories of influential mentors, catchy one-liners, or anecdotes about how they got to where they are today.

Welcome to the series where that advice is passed on from them, to me, to you.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received or would pass along to young professionals?

Note: some of these responses have been edited for length and clarity.

“Keep a list of the things you've done every week/month/quarter – and do it regularly (e.g. at the end of the week). It's too easy to forget our accomplishments. Lists help us remember so we can tell our bosses, and it also helps us look back and smile.”

Gina Balarin

Founder and Director of Verballistics Pty Ltd.

"Do not be afraid to make a mistake. You absolutely have to make mistakes in order to grow."

Henry Miller

Co-Founder of

“Embrace unfamiliarity. I think people shy away from unfamiliarity, but that's the best way to grow your skills and become more and more valuable in your career.

From a marketing perspective I highly recommend branching out from what most of us are so familiar with and learn about website development, user experience, dabble in coding, learn more about the ‘why' in graphic design… the list goes on and on. Branching out can take you in some really cool directions.”

Marketing Manager

“Start a job how you mean to end. If you start a job working all hours of the day and not setting healthy boundaries, people will always expect that of you. Set your boundaries at the beginning and don't spread yourself thin from the jump.”

Rachel Timmins

Associate Attorney

"One of the best career advice I've gotten was from my mom. She told me that I should never be afraid to be different because only the difference can become extraordinary. She emphasized how difficult it may be to have a different way of thinking and doing things than others, but that's how you stand out not just at work but also in life. My mom told me that those who take roads that are different from others achieve greater results because those are the people who aren't afraid to fight alone."

Marty Spargo

“Actively search for new opportunities. While education is essential for professional development, experience and chances can be equally as transforming. Look for opportunities to attend conventions and workshops, as well as projects that will challenge you and help you develop your talents. You'll discover more about your potential by taking on additional duties.”

Kristina Lopez

Marketing Director, Incrementors

“Remember success isn't always about how many hours you spend working. It's important to pace yourself. Don't get discouraged if you don't understand everything right away, so take time and explore everything. Build a solid foundation in your chosen field and you'll be set up for a long and successful career.”

Loran Marmes

“Build a personal brand and understand that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Use networking to build authentic relationships and get outside of your comfort zone. Finally, everyone experiences imposter syndrome – never let it diminish your accomplishments.”

Learning Consultant, AVP

“Sounds deceptively simple, but advocate for yourself. I used to be guilty of being a 'yes' person, doing what was expected of me and accepting bad treatment or poor work life balance, working hard hoping that my efforts would be noticed but instead being overlooked. Instead, speak up for what you need, map out what it's going to take to reach your goals and never settle for less than what you deserve. Advocating for yourself is a game changer because you can finally start enjoying what you're doing.”

Kate Tudoreanu

“You only have one life. Make sure you live it and not somebody else's version of it, because you don't get a second chance.”

Freya Ward

Global Business Director, Headley Media

Thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute – your words are helping to develop the professionals of tomorrow, including me. And while this advice is valuable, it barely scratches the surface of all the helpful tips and stories I received as part of this project.

Stay tuned as I continue to wade through and share the best guidance the internet has to offer.

Have a piece of advice you think would be valuable to young professionals? Send it my way for a chance to be featured.

Adeleine Whitten | Professional, kind of

is a marketer by day and writer by night, weekend, and sometimes lunch break. You can often find her with a good book or in the Taco Bell drive-thru.

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