After having a conversation with a couple of family members who have just finished up their undergraduate studies and are about to hit the world of employment, we discussed career options, ranging from government entities and private organizations, to potentially starting their own business. They asked me to reflect on what I did and what I would have done differently, so I thought I would share them with you all. Here are five things I wish someone had said to me before I took my first job.

1. “FORGET THE BRAND NAMES”

We have a strong pull towards big name companies, regardless of the role and with little knowledge of the development track; we just want to get in. My advice is to focus initially on the specific job you are going to be doing, regardless of the company name or recognition. Make sure it is a role that will allow you to grow and develop constantly, that will offer you opportunities to explore areas beyond your comfort zone, and is in line with your passions and vision for your future. Believe me success can come with association, but it is different when big organizations want to be associated with you for the great work you have done.

2. “FIND A MENTOR”

Whether directly in your company, a member of your family, or someone you aspire to become like, find someone who can give you an outside perspective of the moves you are making in your career, share your professional issues with, and who can offer you guidance through their experience. Starting your first job and making decisions can be tough, but with people to share their thoughts and perspectives, the facts become that much clearer, and the decisions become that much easier to make. I have had a couple of mentors in my life and I can safely say that I would not be where I am today without their help and support.

3. “DON’T GET COMFORTABLE”

Comfort Is Your Enemy. They only place you are growing is where you are most uncomfortable, where you are tackling new problems, dealing with new issues, and managing things you think are above and beyond your capabilities. Being uncomfortable in your professional setting allows you to discover new heights within yourself that you never knew existed, and you will see remarkable differences in the way you manage yourself and other people at the end of the project or task. If you are feeling comfortable in your role, and it has been a while since you have felt a sense of discomfort, find something new to do, or simply move on.

4. “OWN YOUR DEVELOPMENT”

Don’t wait for a development plan from Human Resources, don’t wait for someone to come sit down beside you and take you through every single task, and certainly don’t wait to be told what to do. Own your growth, plan your development track, and schedule your own training, nobody in this entire world will care more about your career that you do, Own It.

5. “LEARN TO LET GO”

If you don’t enjoy your job, work on a transition plan, develop new skills, and when the opportunity presents itself to move on, reach out and grab it. I know this may be fairly simple advice, but too many of us settle, give up, or feel at the mercy of the people and companies we work for. There is nothing worse than staying in a role for so long that you feel a fear of moving on, be strong enough to venture into the unknown, if anything the adventure is worth the journey, and who knows what or who you might discover in the process.

Looking back I know these points would have helped me a great deal in the decisions I made throughout my career. This list is by no means comprehensive, so I urge you to write down your own pieces of advice, you never know how they might help out a person starting out their career, or maybe even yourself. Make your dreams a reality, and discover everything you were meant to be, your career, and ultimately the way you live your life your life, is always in your hands. God Speed.