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Career advice I wish I could tell my twentysomething self but can’t so I’ll share with you instead… by Kristiana Burk

Kristiana Burk gives some solid advice on plotting your career…


Stop wandering aimlessly and stressing about which degree you should get. Just get an undergraduate degree that is well-rounded and be done! If you plan on being a lawyer, doctor, or engineer it will matter more what basics you have as entry qualifications for the next level. But in general, the most important thing is to get a solid Bachelors degree from a reputable institution that you can use as a foundation. Leave the worry for when you decide to get your Masters degree – it really does matter what you choose at that point!

My personal choice would be a business, communications or education degree because they are some of the most practical and flexible ones out there. They provide foundational knowledge you’ll be able to build upon as you re-invent yourself multiple times in years to come. And really, that’s what is important at this point in your life.

Yes, re-invention. Be prepared for it. Today’s market is not one where you can plan on sticking with the same job or company for the rest of your life and that’s that. It is constantly shifting and you must learn to “Adapt or Die.” Put the effort in to stay abreast of what the next thing is around the corner. Follow trends. Stay in contact with movers and shakers in your area of interest. Find a mentor. Network. Talk. Get out of the building. Listen to your customers. Become a mentor. Learn how to be as flexible as possible and at the same time find a niche you can become an expert in.

Figure out your belief system. Write it down. Share it with those you are closest to and don’t compromise. Ever. There isn’t a single adventure or opportunity in this world that is worth losing your soul or closest relationships over. You need a personal mission statement. You need to figure out what’s most important in your life and then find out how your career fits into that picture not the other way around.

Find your passion and then leverage it to make a difference in the world. I started out as a music education major. Became a teacher. Then a librarian. Then a knowledge management consultant which turned into content management then user experience which morphed into product management for international digital media and publishing companies. What does my 15+ years of experience have in common? A passion for education, literacy, and the organization of information for users. I wasn’t an actual teacher or librarian for very long in the span of things but I use those principles every single day. And it’s the best part of my day when I do.

And finally, Learn a foreign language and/or get a minor in International Studies. Technology has removed global barriers and the reality is that whether you choose to or not, you’re going to be working in a global economy. Why not have a competitive edge from the get go?

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