Career Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s

Career mistakes to avoid in your 20's

By Courtney Connley

Regardless of how experienced or inexperienced you are in your profession, you’re going to make countless mistakes that are all going to serve as a teaching lesson for how you maneuver in the future.

Many of those mistakes will hopefully be made early in your career as you transition into adulthood and make the best of having to pay bills, maintain good credit and balance a work and social life schedule. While there is no set manual on all the obstacles young professionals will face and the mistakes they should avoid, below are a few of the biggest setbacks and bad patterns young people make in their career that hold them back from flourishing in their purpose.

Operating with fear

No matter what stage you are in your career, fear will always come knocking at your door making you feel as though you aren’t equipped for that next promotion, job offer, speaking engagement or big project. Get in the habit early of pushing past that fear and taking the necessary risks needed to elevate in your career. More often than not, the things that scare us the most are the things that will reap the greatest reward.

Not asking for more

Whether it’s negotiating a better salary and job benefits, or asking for more networking opportunities and new projects on the job that you want to be involved in, never be afraid to ask for more. Yes, there is a possibility that your request will be met with a ‘no,’ but there is also a 50 percent chance that you will get a ‘yes.’ Look at it this way: not asking for what you want at all will always leave you at a disadvantage, so what exactly do you have to lose by speaking up and asking for more?

Being content with one mentor

So many young professionals set the goal of finding just one mentor to help guide them and advise them on all of their career questions. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as there is no one person who is going to have the answers to all of your concerns. Take the time to network, meet new people and seek out multiple mentors who can offer up their expertise for different areas of your career.

Networking in your comfort zone

Speaking of networking, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and make new connections. This may mean attending professional events by yourself, speaking to people who don’t work in your career field and even sparking conversations with complete strangers. You never know who you may meet and if they will be the connection you need to help you land your next opportunity.

Overworking your way to success

Career burnout is real and a lot of times we don’t know that we are pacing towards that until the burnout actually happens and we feel the urge to quit. Last year, Fast Company explored the issue of overworked millennial women and found that career burnout for women by the age of 30 was very real and common. With a combination of pressure in the workplace and the high expectations that we place on ourselves to reach success, it’s often not until we get older that we realize success, is in fact, a marathon and not a sprint. Get in the habit early of taking a break, going on a much-needed vacation and learning that it is completely okay to unplug and rejuvenate yourself.

Ignoring your passion

One of the quickest ways to stay on the course of unhappiness is to ignore your passion and true calling. Yes, following your passion may come with high risk, but settling for safe will always come with disappointments and unnecessary stress that by no means is worth it. Take time early in your professional life to get a clear sense of what you want to do and how you’re going to achieve it. It may require you to work a job or two outside of your desired field as a means to an end, but never lose sight of the things that excite you and how you can turn them into a career.

Courtney Connley is a writer, editor and digital journalist with a sweet spot for storytelling and helping millennials win in the workplace and in life. She considers brunching to be a full-time hobby and enjoys anything that involves avocado or a good book. You can stay up-to-date with her latest work at and follow her latest happenings on social media @classicalycourt.