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My Best Advice: 7 Nuggets of Wisdom for Building a Career You’ll Love

It’s that time of year when corporate America is filled with college interns. Their energy is palpable and the possibilities and opportunities that await them are endless. I’m often asked to speak to classes of bright-eyed interns and bestow nuggets of life and career advice I’ve learned along the way. Nothing makes me happier than to share what I’ve learned in the hopes that it will provide students a bit of guidance, reassurance and some good old-fashioned advice as they navigate life and career.

Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice I often give to our next-generation of young, ambitious professionals.

1)  Capitalize on your superpower: There’s a lot of conversation today about building a “personal brand.” I’m a big believer in a personal brand, but an even bigger believer in knowing what your biggest strength is – your superpower – and leaning into that. Maybe you have a unique ability to see the big picture, or strong relationship building skills, or you relish completing unpopular tasks. Figure out your one or two strongest attributes and then position yourself to show them off so they work to your advantage. No one is going to give you opportunities to capitalize on your strengths unless you demonstrate them.

2)  Be open to feedback but remember it doesn’t define you: As you go through your career you will receive a lot, and I mean a lot of feedback. Listen to it, adjust and adapt your behavior and actions where you feel it’s appropriate; however, remember that not all feedback is created equal or accurate. It’s not a perfect science or a perfect representation of you and your abilities. So, when you get feedback, remember it’s just feedback and it’s up to you to decide how and what to do with it.  

3)  Life happens – not everything will go as planned:  This is something I can almost guarantee. Everyone has a story of how their life and career took unexpected twists, turns, and sometimes huge disappointments. What matters is what you do next. I’m a big believer in getting up, getting dressed and going after it. Keep pushing, keep moving forward one step and one day at a time. Don’t stop. Don’t slow down and don’t give up.  

4)  This too shall pass: One of the most common mistakes I see is people getting frustrated with a difficult project, difficult team members or just difficult circumstances, which sometimes result in them leaving a role too quickly. Remember, whatever you’re working on today most certainly will change at some point in the near future. It may change because of a new manager, new business priorities or new opportunities. Change is inevitable and you need to approach your work with resilience and determination. You often get more – and get noticed – when you tackle the tough projects. Stay focused on the big picture and learn to have grit during the difficult times. 

5)  Don’t worry about not having a plan: Throughout my career, some of the most successful people I know took roles that weren’t consistent with where they believed their career was heading. My takeaway? Don’t be so rigid in “managing” your career. It’s okay if you aren’t sure what your next move will be. Enjoy and excel where you are. Each day and every new project presents an opportunity to add valuable skills and experiences to your professional toolkit.

6)  Sometimes you will go backwards to go forwards:  This is a tough one to think about but sometimes it will be the right thing to do. You might be offered an opportunity at your dream company for your dream job, but the title is less than the title you have today. Or the salary is less. But sometimes you have to make tradeoffs and determine what is most important to you. Remember the saying, short-term pain for long-term gain?  It happens with careers too. Only you can decide, but trust me sometimes it will be the right thing to do.  

7)  Be your own biggest protector and cheerleader:  Unfortunately, it’s going to happen at some point in your career; you will feel disrespected and some of your core values and beliefs will be challenged. These are the moments where you need to stand up for yourself, believe in yourself and protect yourself. You, and only you, can do that. 

This information is for educational purposes only, not intended to be financial or legal advice. Always consult a qualified financial advisor before taking any action based on this information. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position, or opinion of Barclays Bank Delaware.

Lili Tomovich 
Chief Marketing and Experience Officer, Barclays US Consumer Bank

Lili Tomovich is the Chief Marketing and Experience Officer for Barclays US Consumer Bank where she oversees customer experience, marketing technology, channel strategy & optimization, brand, creative & sponsorships, product & partner marketing, consumer insights and research. Lili is a transformational marketing executive who has spent her career building leading brands in the financial services, retail, entertainment, and hospitality industries across the US and Canada.

Lili is a member of the board of directors of Dine Brands Global. She holds an MBA from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Brock University.