Advance Your Career By Taking the Road Less Travelled

young businessman in front of a crossroadI’ve always been somebody who does things a little differently. Sometimes it complicates things and can throw a wrench in a project or a something I am trying to achieve, sometimes it’s just a roundabout way of getting to the same outcome, and sometimes it serves me really well.

One way that I’ve benefited immensely from this is in my career.

It all started in high school, when I graduated five months earlier than my peers so I could work full time and save up money before starting college. This not only gave me the benefit of going to college without student loans, it also gave me a chance to build up my transferrable skills to better know what I wanted to do with my career and be more equipped and employable during and after I graduated from post secondary school.

I worked full-time throughout college and took a few internships. Because of those internships, I landed a great job before I’d even graduated, thereby avoiding the rush of new graduates applying for the same, limited number of positions.

I bounced around in that organization more than any of my colleagues and put my hand up for projects that didn’t sound very fun to me all in the name of gaining experience and transferrable skills and beefing up my resume.

I worked at that job for two and a half years almost exactly, before taking a – gasp – temporary position in a whole other focus of my field at an almost $13/hr raise.

Yes, temporary.

At 25 years old I am making substantially more money and am at a much higher job title than the vast majority of my peers in the same field, who I graduated with.

Why? Because I did things a little differently. I graduated early, worked full time during college, took low paying internships and made myself incredibly uncomfortable by taking the crap projects in the crap communities that nobody wanted to work on or go to. I took a temporary position when I have a mortgage and had a job across the street from my house. I gave up my pension, incredible benefits, job that I was great at and short commute for a term specific role half an hour away from home in a focus I am not familiar with.

I am not saying I am the epitome of success (in fact, I am far from it. I have a long way to go before I feel successful), however, as I continue on in my career path, I am sure I will only be progressing. At 25, I have many years to move forward and grow in my career, and I’ve leapfrogged over a lot of those filler years that many people end up doing, waiting for the right opportunity or something comfortable to come along.

Are there other ways around the corporate jungle gym that one can take to progress their career without having to take huge scary risks when you have a mortgage? Sure. Many people become reasonably successful through many different channels. However, taking the road less travelled and doing things a little differently are the quickest ways to progress and grow in you career, and likely in other aspects of life.

Think about it: success is sort of the notion of being better than average. The vast majority of people are solidly average in their careers; neither unsuccessful nor exceptionally successful. That’s fine for some people – great even! – because work isn’t everything and some want to be able to do their jobs well, and then focus on passions in the off time. But if you are somebody chasing success, why would you chase success by doing exactly what everyone else is doing that is putting them in the average category?

Make some strategic but not common moves and you’ll benefit from them.

That’s why I think that thinking outside of the box and taking the road less travelled is the best way to advance your career.


Advance Your Career By Taking the Road Less Travelled — 12 Comments

  1. My boyfriend dropped out of college after his freshman year when he got a work opportunity. Now, at 28, he has ten years of professional experience, making him much more qualified to earn the six figure salary he does. Not your typical route, and not for everyone, but it’s definitely paid off for him.

  2. Props to you! And that’s really awesome about graduating HS early to get a jump start on saving for college. You never really hear about people doing that. I had a friend in college who graduated early to reduce loans and beat the rest of us to the job market and it served her well.

  3. Congratulations. More people should have such drive.

    However, I caution you on your inferred definition of success. Please don’t let it be about the money. If so, you may find yourself making six figures, easily, but working 80-100 hours per week to get it. Be sure to keep a proper work-life balance. But just in case you can’t, be sure to save as much money as you can from every raise so that you can accumulate a large wealth number.

    • There are different types and levels of success, and this article is about career and monetary success. Successful relationships and being successful in your health will obviously not apply here 🙂

  4. Inspiring post! Putting in the extra effort before graduating definitely gives a big boost to your carreer early on. I’ve noticed this myself too.

    If you never step outside of your comfort zone you’ll always remain average at what you do. Excellence is only attained if you actively pursue it!

  5. A good one, Daisy. And I agree that to get traction one ought to try the options that have not been explored (or get beyond the herd mentality). I am just wondering whether there is some level of the familiar and explored that one needs to account for. Complete novelty is highly risky.

    • Risky, but the higher the risk the better the payoff, in my opinion 🙂 Familiarity is great and certainly has it’s place but it’s not going to get you out of your comfort zone.

  6. Taking risks and thinking outside of the box are the best ways to advance your career. Yes, we should be able to be brave and take risks. It’s the only way because if we just settle for what is infront of us, we will not be able to achieve the best.

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