The Best Career Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

Photo Credit: Casey McKissick

Okay, so navigating the beginning of one’s career can feel *a bit* like Frodo trying to throw the Ring into Mount Doom.

(I couldn’t remember if it was really called “Mount Doom” so I did a quick google search, and this line is pretty accurate about my feelings.)

This last year, I’ve coached just over 100 millennials (not bad for my first year as an official career coach!), and I know many of us #millennials are at once feeling overwhelmed by career choices, but also a general lack of mentorship and clear path of how to get to where we want to go.

I feel you. About three years ago I decided to say, “Fuck it!” and commit myself 100% to becoming a fashion designer. I decided to do this while I was dragging myself over metaphorical shattered glass to get an engineering degree from Stanford. Being firmly entrenched in Silicon Valley, I didn’t know anyone who worked in fashion. A lot of the time, I didn’t feel like I knew anyone who knew anyone who worked in fashion. How the hell am I supposed to show at fashion weeks around the world, if I can’t get my foot in the door?

And I know that I’m not the only one with “unrealistic” and audacious goals.

Fuck “realistic,” am I right?

And then, somewhere in the midst of reading something “personal development-y” I ran across a few lines that totally changed my perspective (the jist of it is):

“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If you want to do something, go find someone who has done it, or a couple of someones, and figure out how they did it. Then, go do that.”

And, I know I had heard similar advice to that somewhere else— but this is groundbreaking. I don’t have to keep tweeting at Christian Soriano, Becca McCharen, Jeremy Scott, Alexander McQueen, Laura Byrnes, et al (hi!) to land a dream internship. I’m going to do the things that are in my control, research the hell out of how my favorite designers did it — and go do that.

I’m a #designer, okay? (Photo Credit: Casey McKissick)

So, what’s your big/out there/totally unconceivable goal? And who has done that (or something pretty close)? Make it your goal this week to find their official or unofficial bio, whether it’s a book or an in-depth Wikipedia page, and read it. Then ask yourself, “How can I do something similar?”

Your journey is definitely going to look different. But, as you research your s/heroes, you’ll find similar things that they did, AND you’ll gain knowledge of their industry. Plus, you’ll be super prepared for when you run into them at the CFDA Awards — err, an event.

Go get ‘em.

Plug: Right now, I’m working on a new products called “My Career Map” where I do exactly that with clients. If you want to be a beta tester, I’m charging $99 for six 1:1 Career Mapping sessions (regular price will be around $350). If that’s not doable for you right now, that’s OKAY! Be sure to follow me on Medium as I post updates and tips. :*