Bea Arthur, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
First off, don’t freak out — you are not alone! Even though the big trend right now seems to be baby-faced CEOs making millions before their 21st birthday, your 20s is the first true stage of adulthood, and most people find themselves swinging on a terrifying pendulum between taking risks and being responsible during this decade.
Find out your strengths and weaknesses.
Go back through your resume and write down the pros and cons of every job you’ve ever had. When I did this exercise, I realized that I loved talking to people but hated follow-up paperwork, so sales was out even though everyone said I’d be great at it. You should notice a similar theme, and this will help guide your next steps.
Figure out how to manage your time, money, and expectations.
When you’re still figuring things out, a lot can feel out of your control so focus on the stuff you can control: Set a budget, exercise regularly, stop going out every night, and embrace structure. Personal development is just as important as professional development, and employers are attracted to stability and consistency. Also spend more time with friends you admire, as you might find yourself networking by accident.
Never stop learning.
I don’t recommend going into debt on an MBA just because you don’t know what else to do, but taking a class online or at a community college in an area you feel passionate about could light a long-dormant fire under your ass and also give you the confidence you need to pursue that passion professionally. Getting specialized certifications also shows employers that you care about becoming an expert in your field.