Careers 101

Jason Nazar wrote pretty much the most comprehensive article for Forbes about what 20-somethings need to know about their careers.
I’m coming up on my one-year mark at Levo and I’ve definitely made more mistakes than I can count… but I’ve also had huge opportunities. The opportunities definitely don’t just happen. It’s also a startup, so admittedly, you have a lot more room to grow (and grow fast), but it’s definitely not easy.

Ha, my first day!

When I started working at Levo, there were so few people there that absolutely everything everyone did mattered. The needle would move (mostly in a good direction, but sometimes not). And the impact was real and measurable. What you were contributing and what you were messing up on was oh-so-noticeable.
The things that Jason highlights in here are great. They’re things that sometimes I didn’t do intentionally, or things I realized I should be doing.
You should definitely read the post in its entirety, but here are some of the things that I think have been hugely impactful in terms of my trajectory (both in how my role has evolved and how much I’ve learned). 
We’re More Productive in the Morning | I am typically the first person in the office and I get SO much done between 7:30 and noon. I can go into the afternoon for high level strategy thinking and brainstorming knowing I got what I need to get done, done. Warning: Getting in super early kind of stinks when other people get in later and hold 6pm meetings

Social Media is not a Career | It’s just not. But the root of what it is is. Audience building, community management, marketing, copy writing, branding, etc. Take a real look at what it is you do without getting stuck on words like Twitter or Facebook.
Be the First In and the Last to Leave | Seriously. You know everything that goes on. You’re always there to help. And you get a lot done. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in the office at 8pm and something needs to get done (likely because someone else forgot). Volunteer to get it done and then just do it.
Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes | Why wouldn’t you?! It’s super obvious you screwed up. Own it.
You Have to Build Your Technical Chops | If you know how to mockup wireframes and edit an image in Photoshop (like actually edit) or do a little front end design…. you will stand out. YOU WILL STAND OUT. Make it your priority to see what other people in the office are using and then teach yourself. Spend Saturday mornings learning the ins and outs and next time you can pick up a piece of a project.
Read More Books | Really.
I know I don’t talk in depth about what exactly I do at Levo. But currently, I’m managing a team of four people (plus one amazing intern). Managing is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and I’m learning a lot (and also making tons of mistakes). My team is awesome though, so it’s great be working together. And I have an amazing manager who tells me what I could do better when leading a meeting and also gives me advice and resources to just become a better manager. For the record, I begged to not have to manage a team. I really didn’t think I could do it. It started off with managing one person… and then two… and this summer two more people have joined. And, everyone was right, I can do it. It’s just not easy, which I guess is the fun part. (Also, I’m the youngest. That’s an extra element of difficulty. Probably more of how I picture myself than how they picture me… but it’s still hard!)
What have you learned from your job? What’s helped you succeed and grow professionally?

PS One more tip? DRESS THE PART. I don’t care if the rest of the office is in yoga pants, it’s not happening for me. It’s probably a little gender stereotypical, but if you’re dressed for the role you want, you’ll feel (and act) differently. Wearing nice dresses and heels, even if sandals and shorts are okay, makes me feel more confidence. And at the end of the day, it’s all about the confidence. 
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Great post, all truth! I also like to get things done early morning, it seens to be the most productive time! And about the mistakes, sooo truth! I had this intern – that I fired – that got to my nerves because every time he did a mistake he just said that it wasn't him, even though it obviously was. I didn't get mad for the mistake, after wall interns do a lot and that's ok, but I got mad for the lying. Had to let him go…


Thanks for sharing that article. I'm always looking for ways to improve myself and to prepare myself for my future. I'm definitely scared for what's to come and what to give myself the best outcome. I do agree that the morning time is the most productive time (I usually do a lot of my good studying from 7-12.)




I would definitely be interested in hearing about some career oriented books or blogs/websites – if you have any to recommend.

Chelsea Mac

This is a fantastic article with some really useable and translatable tips. I also agree with the dress-for-the-job-you-want-not-the-one-you-have mentality. It definitely makes a difference.

Kimberly Topolewski

This is great, but I don't necessarily agree to the whole "First In, Last to Leave". I found more senior team members actually respect me MORE when I clearly define when I'm working – they like to see that I want a work/life balance. Yes, I'll agree to stay late or come in super early for a meeting. Or even go on call (in which you have NO life, because you have to be by your phone/laptop 24/7) for a coworker who has a conflict that week.

If you set the expectation that you work from 7am until 8pm, people will start holding you to that and you begin to have no social life and stress will start to eat at you. And even if you work at a company like mine who reinforce work/life balance, you're only allowed work 40 hours/week, unless some major issue comes up and even then your manager has to approve the extra hours.

I do think it's important to show that you're dedicated and willing to go the extra mile, but that doesn't require 12+ days. If you can't get done what you need to get done in 8ish hours, your time isn't efficiently managed.


Oh this is so so so helpful!! I start my first real job in a few weeks and I want to really do well…I'll be applying all of these tips and lessons to my career!


ALL SO TRUE! I'm finishing up my second year of post-college work and making my first jump to a new consulting position. (I also write for Levo!) The morning comment is totally spot on, as well as learning the technical side of the job. I'm working on a Career Planning post on my blog, should be up next week. Cheers and always love reading your blog, Carly!


Carly, that was an excellent and interesting article, and I love your response to it. I especially agree with his point "Don't Wait to Be Told What to Do." 20-somethings HAVE to learn how to take more initiative, go above and beyond without being asked, without being give a task list at the start of each day.

I also manage about 4 interns every semester, and a couple are always grads students older than me as well. Being in that position has been one of the hardest things about my job, and something I have yet to get used to, even after a couples years of doing it. If you have any tips for handling a team with members older than you, I would love to hear!


This is so so true! During my internship this summer I have learned so much about directing! It has been really great to learn from some people who have tons of experience. I must say that the one thing I learned during my internship is to always be confident, but not cocky. If you don't seem to have confidence everyone around, and the kids I direct, will lose faith in you!


Jessica Joyce

It's always super fun when you write about careers…since I'm heading there in a couple of years! I agree with waking up early!
As a student, though, everything just seems so intimidating. But if I have learned anything important, it would be…COFFEE. COFFEE. COFFEE.

Your Friend, Jess

Madeline Veenstra

I love this article! Seriously your career posts are so interesting. I have gone from working as an economist in the Australian government to running my own fashion company in San Francisco. The dynamics of the two couldn't be any more different.

I think in any 'job' it's really important to be willing to step up and out of your role to help out anyway you can. Though there is certainly less flexibility I think in a government/corporate type role than in a startup.

In terms of running a business, I've come to understand that I may never have any 'off' time for an extremely long time. But I'm totally happy with that, I absolutely adore my company. So much so, I realised I was liking customers' statuses on FB in my sleep the other night. Suffice to say my fiance moved my phone the next evening!

p.s. I'm in love with Levo League, I really enjoy receiving my newsletters from you guys. Keep it up xo


I read this article yesterday and immediately thought of you. I've been following your blog for a few years now and am amaze that at such a young age you are doing so much! I think this article was really eye-opening, maybe a little condescending but hey, when you're 20 you need the tough love! I'm so thankful to have found sites like your blog and Levo League to help guide me as I search for internships and career opportunities while I'm 20 and still in school rather than being a post-grad and having no direction whatsoever. Thank you Carly for all the advice you share!


I agree with many of these, but I staunchly disagree with number one as a sweeping statement. It's a personal thing.

Nearly 10 years into the workforce,I find I prefer meetings between 11am and 3pm and to get hard work done between 3pm and 7pm. Early am meetings mostly find me not awake enough yet to fully process or contribute. But I fake it, because "society" is built for early birds who think night owls are lazy. Whatever.


I read this earlier today and was thinking the exact same things. I've still got one year of school left, but I've been interning and interviewing for jobs in DC for a few months now and I'm definitely tracking with you. Making sure that you're the "go-to" person is probably the best advice I've ever received, and I love that Jason's points were right in line with how to become that person. Great feature.

I'm sure you've seen it before, but check out…it's got a lot of great articles along the same lines. Cheers to your wonderful blog and have a wonderful weekend in Nantucket!


This article is so helpful! I just finished my first full month of work and I actually really needed this!

Oh and one thing I learned so far: EAT LUNCH, even if you have to eat it at your desk! The first few weeks, I was so overwhelmed with all the stuff I had to get done I didn't eat at all and before the end of the day I had already lost all my energy.

Sarah Morris

Jason's article is SO on point. I was fortunate enough to secure a good job that I started three weeks after graduating just this past May. And even with that being the case, I'm still in my 20s and there is a lot of area for growth. My first few weeks when I was getting a little panicky about getting everything right, my dad reminded me to just "be a sponge." In other words – just take it all in, do your job, and don't seek to be a wave maker from the very start. Get comfortable and be known for being reliable and a hard worker and more opportunities (both in and out of the office) WILL come.

BK Christy

Thank you for this!! My office is super relaxed when it comes to dress code — so of course some days I definitely go the minimum. But your last little P.S. just inspired me to go on a shopping trip & snag up some work-appropriate clothes so I can look the part!

xo, B

Anna Selby

This is such a great article! I am about to be a (fifth year) senior in the fall and I'm preparing the enter the job force soon. One thing the article doesn't highlight that I think is invaluable is the value of internships! I have had one for the past three years at two different offices and the experience has been amazing. Not only am I learning a lot and building my portfolio (I'm a graphic design major), I have trained myself to operate on an 8-5 schedule, including rising early without an alarm to get things done. I think many 20-somethings fail right out of the gate after graduating because they expect to worry about finding a job then, while they really should be working and building contacts and networks during their college years. I will be entering my senior year of college with a solid job offer because of this and I could NOT be more excited!

Julia D.

It's funny because I read the whole article before I read your take on it and I have to say reading how it applied to your life was probably more interesting than the original (though the advice he gives is like WOW). I totally agree with it and have a lot of experience seeing positive effects of most of the advice he gives. I wish he touched more on networking though. I'm not talking about unpaid internships because I personally find them unfair and disagree with them ethically, but just about how making connections and talking to people about your passions can open doors. Personal branding as well is SO important. Overall, great article and I really enjoyed hearing your perspective as part of the demographic he is talking about.