Advice from the Other Side: Owning Your Career Path

With the spring semester coming to an end and summer quickly approaching, Terriers are securing all kinds of exciting summer internships, fellowships, research opportunities, full-time jobs, and graduate school acceptances. You’re happy that your friends are succeeding in their career development, but what happens if you don’t get the position you wanted, or the salary you were hoping for, or you haven’t received a job offer at all? It can be very easy to fall into a trap of comparing your career path with those around you.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that comparing yourself to your friends and your fellow students is dangerous and pointless.

Here’s why you should avoid making these comparisons:

It can set unhealthy goals. There’s nothing wrong with some friendly competition. After all, the job market is competitive, and you need to be driven to succeed. But comparing your career path to your friends’ and stressing yourself out to get to their level is unhealthy and fosters nothing but unhappiness and resentment. Instead of harping on what you can’t change, focus on working toward some healthy, personal goals that make you better and help you achieve what you truly want.

It doesn’t measure success. Success is defined in all types of different ways. What looks like success for your friend who started working at Google post-graduation, might not be how success looks for you. And that’s okay! Career development is a cycle that looks different for everyone, and it’s important to remember that.

It’s a waste of valuable time. The more time you spend worrying about what other people are doing, the less time you have to work on your own career development. Comparing career paths only causes stress. Spend your time crafting your resume and writing strong cover letters, building your professional network, and strengthening your skills to help you land that dream job.

Comparing yourself to others is a natural part of being human, especially in such a crucial time of job and internship searching. It’s important to remember that everyone has a different career path and develops at their own pace. Assuming that your peers are more successful in their career paths than you are is often a false narrative. Work on reaching your own goals and defining what success means for you, and you will have a fulfilling career ahead of you.

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