8 pieces of career advice you wish you could tell your younger self

If only someone had told us this stuff before we started working…

EDGAR staff October 21, 2014

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back over our careers and lives so far, most of us would be lying if we said that there was absolutely nothing we'd like to go back and change if we had the chance.

If someone invented a time machine and gave us the opportunity to travel back and have a few choice words with our former selves before starting in the world of work, there's so much advice we'd gladly give.

We're not saying that we'd suddenly have the success of someone like Mark Zuckerberg, but we'd certainly be in a better position in our careers and would have spent less time worrying along the way.

Here's what we wish someone would have told us before we'd started working:

1. The first two weeks of work are intense, but you'll get through it

Exhausted office worker.

You're used to living the lazy life of a university student, so for the first fortnight of your full-time working career you're so exhausted that you crash out on the sofa as soon as you get home. Even though you feel like your whole world has caved in and you'll never have a moment of free time outside of work again, don't worry because it will all become second nature soon enough and you'll learn how to live a life outside of the office.

2. Don't think making the coffee is beneath you

coffee in the office. It's an old cliche - the new boy is the tea boy. But offering to make your manager and your new colleagues a cuppa in the morning will certainly put them on the right side. Just be sure you make it obvious you're making one for yourself anyway, and not actually being the tea servant.

3. Be alert to office politics

office politics back stabbing. While you should always rise above political games that go on within office walls, don't be blind to them either. If someone has a vendetta against you, the chances are they won't drop it until they get their way. Be prepared to fight fire with fire.

4. Start saving NOW!

man sitting on money. That wonderful phenomenon called a salary that sees a chunk of money deposited into your bank account every month means you'll suddenly have way more spare cash than you're used to. But if you fritter it all away on designer suits and furnishing your apartment like a hotel suite, before long you'll realise that for all that hard work all you have to show for it are a few smart clothes and a coffee table you paid way over the odds for.

5. Make sure you move at the right time

quitting job Although you may be reasonably happy in your first job, getting your feet under the table of the working world, as soon as you feel you've outgrown the role it's important to progress to the next level. Whether this means getting a promotion at your current organisation or making a move elsewhere, the important thing is that you don't waste time and hinder your career progress by the jump. Every move should be a step forwards, not back.

6. Don't burn bridges when you move

exit interview. When you do leave your first job for bigger and better things, you'll probably be feeling pretty smug and be tempted to lord it over your former boss, perhaps delivering a few parting words on your way out of the door for the final time. Don't. You never know who you'll come across throughout your career, and while it might seem harmless to bad mouth former colleagues on your exit interview, things like that have a nasty habit of coming back to bite you when you least expect it.

7. Travel while you still can

travelling man on boat. Once you've started working full time and jumped into the rat race head first, taking six months out to travel the world simply isn't going to happen. Before you know it you'll be tied down to a mortgage and have a host of dependents that will make taking off on your travels seem impossible. Unless you want to see the world on your Zimmer frame after a lifetime of work, get out and travel while you're young and carefree.

8. Don't blow your big chance

don't blow your big chance. At some point or another, if you've got the talent and the commitment, an opportunity will come along that could completely change not only your career but also your life. It might involve some upheaval - perhaps a relocation or a change of fields - so it will seem like a risky path to take. But when presented with a once-in-a-lifetime chance, you must take the bull by the horns and grasp the opportunity with both hands. You won't regret it.