Careers

Career advice every twentysomething needs to hear

Eight powerhouse women from Cosmopolitan's Cosmo 100 luncheon share their best advice for getting ahead.

By: Jenna Marotta

1) "Don't seek out a mentor." —Janet Mock, author, activist, and host of So POPular!

"[Don't] seek out someone as a mentor — instead, seek out someone you can ask questions to. We've been told so often that we need to seek a mentor — it's like a title that you want to throw on to someone — but don't worry about that so much. Seek out someone that can answer one question for you consistently. And that's enough."

2) "Whatever new opportunity [you get], take it." —Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood

"My best career advice was always from my mother, who after many, many years of taking care of children and being the perfect housewife, just lived life on her own terms. And she believed very much that the answer to life was 'yes.' Whatever new opportunity, new challenge, new job you get the chance to do, just take it. And I think it's held me in very good stead."

3) "Get over your fears." —Val Demings, the first woman to serve as chief of the Orlando Police Department

"Get over your fears. Have a plan of what you want to do in life — write some things down, make a list of how you're going to accomplish those goals. Look at where you want to be in a year, two years, five years, and then start working toward those. Be willing to take a risk. You don't do it blindly, but only people who are willing to take risks live up to their full potential. If you fall down, get up as quickly as you can. It's not the first time — people fall."

4) "Don't make choices based on title and money." —Kamala Harris, attorney general of California

"Don't make choices in your career based on title and money. Make your choices based on what keeps you up at night."

5) "Keeping going." —Christine Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council

"The two best pieces of career advice I ever got were, one, do what you love, and two, when it doesn't work out, keep going for it."

6) "Never let anyone say you can't do it." —Ali Wentworth, actress

"Everybody told me not to be an actress — my parents — and they said, 'You can't write a book. Oh, you didn't do well in English. You can't write a book.' I had horrible endometriosis and my ob-gyn said, 'You can't get pregnant,' and I had two baby girls. So yeah ... I mean, my 13-year-old has already met the editor of Seventeen because I was like, 'So what if you're 13? Get into it.' So that would be the best career advice. For Cosmo, I'd also say don't sleep with your boss. These are obvious."

7) "Take every small assignment." —Joan Lunden, journalist

"One of the best pieces of career advice I ever received was Barbara Walters said, 'You're not going to win the fight for equality right now' — this was in 1980, maybe even '79 — 'so you take every small assignment they give you and make every one of them shine. And you will rise to the top if you do that' — and she was right. She also said to me — another great piece of advice — send notes. She said, 'Everyone wonders why I get the big interviews. It's because when some celebrity opens, you know, I see they've been signed to the movie or signed to do a Broadway show, I write them and I congratulate them. So when it comes time that the movie comes out, who do you think they want to do the interview? Maybe it's the person who wrote the personal note to say, Good luck on that.' And I did that. I took her advice."

8) "Love it." —Laverne Cox, actress

"Love it. An acting teacher of mine, Carl Ford, said to me and all the students in acting class years ago, 'If your only option to act would be doing podunk dinner theater in Idaho, would you still be an actor? If the answer's no, you shouldn't do it. Most actors don't work, the rejection is horrible, and you should only do it if you absolutely love it.' And so I've always proceeded. I actually started ending my emails, probably 12 years ago, with 'Staying in love,' to remind me and all of my actor friends that we started acting because we love it and that we stay in the love even through the difficult business part of it."

SOURCE: US COSMO

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