Focus on Career Development in Your 20s for Success
Written by Esther Mwaniki, Founder and CEO Lapid Leaders Africa:
I remember my twenties with a lot of nostalgia. I did not know it then, but this was the most defining decade of my life so far. The choices that I made then have impacted my life to date and will definitely impact many more years to come. From securing my first job and getting my first paycheck, to finally being able to make my own decisions, to even determining the kind of relationships that I would engage in. All of these were not only a big part of my twenties, but continue to be a pillar in my 30s.
Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist who specialises in adult development, and twentysomethings in particular writes, “With about 80 percent of life’s most significant events taking place by age thirty-five, as thirtysomethings and beyond we largely either continue with, or correct for, the moves we made during our twentysomething years.”
The twenties are an exciting time in any individual’s life. However, most people do not recognize the power of their 20s and therefore do not make the best use of them. While there is a lot of focus on wealth creation in the 20s, it is the character and career development in those years that will serve you well in the years to come. At Lapid Leaders Africa, we focus on building the values of the 20 somethings. Over the next few days, we will share the top three things that we advocate for every 20 something to invest in:
Media and many other modern day channels have created the perception that there are endless possibilities for the youth today, from entrepreneurship to freelancing to office work, the options seem endless. While this is partly true, we have found that those who identify the career paths that they would like to work on, and focus on them in their early twenties, are more likely to succeed. This is especially true in an economy such as ours where wrong choices can be very costly.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers claims that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. This principle applies in career development, the earlier you can begin to put in your 10,000 hours, the better.
In the book Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay stresses the importance of 20 somethings being realistic and narrowing down the career choices as early as possible despite the common message of unlimited choices. She cites psychology’s famous jam experiment, the conclusion of which is when one has an array of options, as opposed to a smaller selection from which to choose, he or she has a harder time making a decision.
Unfortunately most of our education choices work against this ideal. We have found that many young people are pursuing degrees in fields that they have little interest in, the Joint Admission Board (JAB) made the choice for them. The result is that a conversation that should have happened in the late teen years on career choices is extended late into the twenties and sometimes into the 30s and 40s. The result is that many twenty-something are either clueless on where they want to start investing their 10,000 hours, or are constantly job-hunting and in the process never building expertise in anything. This is very unfortunate given that the counterparts in developed countries will have started building their 10,000 hours as early as 16 years old.
How the Lapid Leaders Experience can help you
All is not lost. The Lapid Leaders Experience deals with this hurdle by providing a lot of personalized mentorship and coaching that allows individuals to identify the career path of choice, in the shortest possible time. We expose the participants to a team of highly experienced Executive Coaches who through personalised interaction with the students, are able to help them map out the career path that they would like to take.
In addition, we have various Employment Partners on board, who provide the participants with various opportunities that allow them to explore the careers that they would like to focus on. For example, some of the participants recently took part in Media Labs that allowed them to understand the opportunities in the field and ways in which they can engage in the opportunities. In addition, the Experience is jam-packed with opportunities for meet-ups with various Industry Experts that have empowered many participants to identify career opportunities that they can engage in. Many participants have also gotten job opportunities through our rich network of employers and are able to explore the fields with the support of Mentors and Coaches.
I started my career at 21 years old at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a leading audit firm. I was fortunate to start my career in an organisation that was very intentional with Coaching and Mentorship. For over 10 years, I worked under some of the best Mentors and Coaches, and they molded many of my values today.
The organisation was also intentional in recognising many of my hidden talents, and investing in them. I loved training and development, and while my main job was as an auditor, during the less busy times in the year, I was recruited into the team of Learning and Education (L&E) and got to take part in training people in Europe and many countries in Africa. The organisation called out the gift that is my career now.
I was exposed to various fields and opportunities, and eventually sent on a 2 year secondment in United Kingdom. Each of these activities, and many more have impacted who I am today.
Unfortunately, my experience has been that not many organisations are able or even willing to invest as much in their employees. It is therefore upto the individuals to go the extra mile and be around people who will call out their talents and gifts. I am happy to return the favour of many who invested in me by investing in you.
Focusing on interests and talents early is a good place to start when feeling bombarded by choice. Invest in career development in your twenties, identify your passions and develop a development plan that will enable you achieve those goals. This in the end is the greatest investment that you can make in your twenties. You are 20 only once, be intentional about the choices that you make, as early as possible. To sign up for the next Cohort, call James on 0717161120.