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30 things to know before you turn 30: The Career Edition

ByUrvee Modwel
Mar 01, 2024 03:08 PM IST

Our viral special issue, is back, with a twist. Grown-ups offer the career advice they wish they’ve received before they crossed the big three-oh

Last year, we thought it might be fun to ask 30 successful (and cool) people to each tell us one thing that we should know before we turn 30. The recommendations came pouring in: By 30 you should know how to order wine like a pro, have investments that make money while you party, learn to take a break without guilt. The article went viral. We sneakily used it as our personal checklist. Then, in September, we put together a sequel. More must-dos, more ways to grow up, more examples of what it really means to hold your own in the world, more reminders that no two people are on the same journey.

Our 30 grown-ups draw from their experiences on the job and off it.

Is it March again? Time for Round 3! Think of it not as a sequel, but a spin-off – It’s the Career Edition. Our 30 grown-ups draw from their experiences on the job and off it. There’s advice on getting hired, getting noticed, jumping ship, staying put, building trust, staying sceptical, handling defeat, holding your own, and logging out on time. Let’s go.

Anubhuti Raikwar, 38, Brand manager.

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Don’t be afraid to kiss ass. If sucking up to the boss, showing up early for no reason, and being the last to leave is helping your career, or helping to make office life more bearable, don’t worry about what anyone else will say. You do you.

Apoorv Mohan Shrivastava, 31, founder, Plush Affairs.

The secret to success is hidden in your daily routine. And to have a day full of small accomplishments, learn to organise your day well. With my wedding photography company, I started making to-do lists early on, giving priority to the important tasks, not the noisy ones. Lean on Google Tasks and Apple Reminders to keep track of everything, even a break, a thank-you note, and a last-minute fact check.

Aditi Handa, 39, co-founder & head chef, The Baker’s Dozen.

Perfection is the enemy of the good. When we were looking to open in Bandra, Mumbai, in 2013, we were fixated on the ideal store, location, and rent. It never materialised. We set up an average-looking store in a good location, with reasonable rent. It turned out to be our most profitable spot, and it’s stood for over a decade. Hard work, creativity, and a willingness to take a chance are often more valuable than perfection.

Mehak Shahani, 35, co-founder, WedMeGood.

Be open to different work so you find your Aha! moment earlier, says Mehak Shahani.

Long before you turn 30, you’ll realise that 70% of all work is boring. Only if you do the grunt work can you get to the 30% that’s truly exciting. Be open to different kinds of work at a younger age so you find your Aha! moment earlier. Don’t turn down opportunities because they don’t fit into your ideal “role”. It’s naïve to assume that you know exactly what you want to do at 23.

Dhruv Visvanath, 32, musician.

Ideas need a home. Find a system that works. I use a service called DISCO, which allows me to make private playlists of my musical ideas, according to theme, specific sound, and purpose. It allows me to send my music to people who are a part of projects I’m currently working on or want to be on. It’s a more professional tool for musical collaboration than WhatsApp or Google Drive. People love to work with someone who is organised and can share ideas in a way that’s easy to digest. It’s unbelievable, that as a musician, I picked the least creative thing, but it’s true.

And ask as many questions as you can to understand someone’s process of doing things: how someone recorded something, how they assembled a piece of music, what tools or software they use. There are no stupid questions. You’d be surprised by how many questions I’ve been asked for the first time!

Dharan Shah, 36, founder, Tradonomy.

In every domain, no matter what field you’re in, there’s always sub-domain expertise you can pick up. For me, as an investor, technical and algo research was a sub-domain that helped me create greater value for myself. Identify what expertise you can capture and go real deep into it; that’s how you make yourself irreplaceable.

Anand Bhaskar, 42, musician, producer and composer.

Switching careers is okay. Switching back is also okay. You’re also allowed to realise that you were better off in your previous job. There’s no one-size-fits-all. When I wanted to switch from advertising to music, I made a list of clients and individuals whom I could offer my skills to. I did this in my notice period. Also, the moment you have income coming in, start investing. It’s easier to switch careers when there are savings to fall back on.

Akanksha Bhandari, 30, singer.

Bravado won’t get you anywhere. Showing up to work is important, but not at the expense of your well-being. Reach out to workmates if you’re overwhelmed or struggling with your health. Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Christina Furtado, 30, illustrator and animator.

Track everything in one place, even if it’s an old-fashioned notebook.

You can’t do it alone, but apps can help. When I started out as a freelance artist and a full-time content creator, I was all over the place with planning my videos and projects. The Notion app helped. It lets you create content buckets to fill in your ideas, organise your upload schedule, manage multiple projects. You can colour code tasks so they feel less like chores. It gave me the liberty to personalise how I want my workday to unfold. Jobs and life get complicated over time, and not all of us can afford a persona assistant. Track everything in one place -- even if it’s an old-fashioned notebook.

Rasika Kajaria, 44, Gallerist, Exhibit 320.

Investment isn’t only monetary. I’ve worked with many artists over the last 15 years. You don’t need the most expensive paints to create a masterpiece; some of the most revered contemporary works today are created out of plastic waste, X-rays and textiles. As an artist, you can use what speaks to you to make a statement.

Rahul Bajaj, 37, Asian Games medallist, & founder, Golf Garage.

Being passionate isn’t enough to make it to the finish line. Couple it with long-term vision, break it down into clear, actionable, attainable mini goals. I think of who I want to be 30-40 years from now. It helps me plan those mini goals along the way. It also helps me take calculated risks to make the ride more fun. Just remember to wear the helmet!

Khushnaz Ashdin Turner, 47, personal stylist.

Dress well, people are always watching. A well-fitted suit in a simple colour shows you mean business. Showing up to work, day after day, neatly dressed, sends the message that you pay attention to detail. Looking sharp makes you appear reliable and capable. Those ready to go the extra mile are often the ones that leave a lasting impact. And never turn down a task outright; there’s always a solution.

Apoorv Agarwal, 33, founder, The Simple Brew.

Don’t ignore yourself. You’ll thank yourself once you turn 30, says Apoorv Agarwal.

Be nice to yourself. Work will get more stressful, the boss will get more insufferable, diets will get harder to follow, people will come and go, and you will fail every now and then. Through all this, taking care of yourself might take a backseat. Don’t ignore yourself. You’ll thank yourself once you turn 30.

Arushi Verma, 34, co-founder, Fitpass.

Pay attention; observation is a powerful skill, says Arushi Verma.

Pay attention; observation is a powerful skill. It’s something I learnt from The Face on the Wall, a short story by EV Lucas we read in school. It’s about a man who searched tirelessly for a person whose face matched the face of a damp patch on his wall. It showed me how much one can observe if they start looking, and how one can uncover opportunities if they continuously seek to understand the world around them.

Niyati Singh, 32, communications associate, Migration and Asylum Project.

Not all who wander are lost…some are just trying to figure out what they truly love doing. Finding a fulfilling job can be overwhelming, stressful, and challenging, especially when there’s so much pressure, both externally and internally. I recommend making a F**K It list, checking off the things you’ve realised you don’t want to do, after you’ve given them a shot. No work experience is a waste of time. Understand your interests, build on your strengths and take on internships, short-term courses, part-time work and consultancies. You’ll eventually narrow it down.

Shubhashree Banerjee, 32, media professional.

Get your hands dirty. You never know which skill you learn, says Shubhashree Banerjee.

Get your hands dirty. You never know which new skill you unexpectedly learn. Something as simple as ordering food for the crew might seem beneath you, but when you have to do it on a budget, on deadline, and keeping people’s choices in mind, you learn time, money and people management all at once. Also, if you believe in an original idea, explain it well, with words, drawings, anything. That’s how new ideas are born.

Gagandeep Makker, 33, co-founder, Pilgrim.

Networking isn’t all LinkedIn. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. When Anurag Kedia, my co-founder, approached me with the idea for a beauty and wellness brand, we didn’t rely only on virtual connections. The real magic happened through the depth of our offline relationships, our shared experiences at IIT Bombay and our social circles. Our makeup-line was born out of direct customer feedback calls. Some things you can’t do virtually.

Aaina Mahajan, 35, founder, Mellowdrama.

See the fun side of a challenge. It unlocks your superpowers, says Aaina Mahajan.

When you find yourself wearing too many hats, make it a game. When we were gearing up to open our first flagship store in Dhan Mill, Delhi last year, I found myself juggling tasks I had never imagined, from sketching out a retail plan to overseeing the store construction. At one point. I was also the impromptu interior designer, desperately trying to decide between paint shades. Amidst the craziness, I realised that this was just a huge DIY party. See the fun side of a challenge. It not only adds fun to your daily grind but also unlocks your superpowers.

Shahin Manan, 40, fashion designer and founder, Shahin Manan.

Squeeze in small breaks. In August 2022, work felt like a rollercoaster. There were deadlines everywhere. I decided to take a mini break and go for a hike in Manali. It helped put so much of the madness into perspective and fuelled me for the ride ahead. Don’t wait for a whole two weeks off. Take joy breaks when you can and dive into something that makes you happy, even if it’s mastering pancake flipping (seriously, it’s a thing). They’re like magic for your creativity and productivity.

Sayantan Ghosh, 37, executive editor, Simon & Schuster India.

Switching careers at any age is all right, says Sayantan Ghosh.

Switching careers at any age is all right, the earlier the easier it is, but not necessarily better. Nobody likes going to work every day, which is why it’s important to intrinsically be passionate about what you do. If that’s not the case, and if you think there’s somewhere else where you’d be happier, it’s never too late to take that leap of faith. I quit two lucrative careers to start in publishing when I was 26. With no experience, the hours I had to put in initially were more than those around me but if you’re willing to learn on the job and sweat it out a little bit, it’s always good to take a chance on yourself.

Mohit Bhatia, 31, co-founder, Malaki.

The world is always changing, but people remain the same. So focus on core fundamental skills, they’ll last a lifetime. When I was younger, I began reading books that taught me skills such as persuasion and negotiation; these are all great to help you go just that little bit further. I’d recommend reading Influence by Robert Cialdini; Never Split the Difference by former FBI agent Chris Voss and Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Kamakshi Khanna, 30, singer.

Don’t waste the potential of a passing thought. So many brilliant ones are lost before they reach the point of execution. If you have a killer pitch, break down every boring part of the process and set deadlines for yourself. Don’t be afraid to express an idea that is different or feels like it may be too much. For my latest song, Love Is Not A F***g Game, I had the concept locked in years ago and was just struggling with ways to execute it. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever created.

Itchha Talreja, 37, founder, Itchha Talreja Designs.

Don’t dive into freelancing. Consider taking up a job for hands-on training, says Itchha Talreja.

As a graphic designer, I often see self-taught designers diving straight into freelancing, missing out on basics and eventually burning out. For any skill, start by learning the basics, and consider taking up a job. The hands-on training makes the textbook make sense and goes beyond it. And learn every aspect of a job, not just the creative side. In an emergency, you can do it all by yourself, or guide others on how to do it correctly.

Jayant Chhabra, 36, founder, Cupcake Productions.

Set yourself goals every six months, says Jayant Chhabra.

Set goals for yourself every six months. This could be learning a new skill, completing a project, or developing new contacts. Track your progress and aim to beat your previous score. It is your story, after all!

Ishan Saluja, 31, restauranteur, Baby Dragon Noida.

Work with what you have, rather than against it, says Ishan Saluja.

Work with what you have, rather than against it. Young people must let go of the assumption that working for their family is less glamorous than working as a corporate employee. In my early 20s I got it into my head that working for family would mean compromising my own ambitions for an easy way out. It took a good decade of stumbling around to realise my error.

Akshay Sharma, 34, lawyer.

Pick up a sport, any sport. Or work out at least three times a week. If nothing else, take the time to meditate for 10-15 minutes each morning every single day. Anything to let off steam and boost your emotional intelligence. The better you understand how to manage your emotions, the easier it will be for you to manage the emotions of others. As you climb the ladder, this will help you more and more.

Mohona Bhattacharjee, 33, recruitment consultant.

Everything is a job platform if you want a job hard enough. Matched with someone on Tinder who works in a great company? Don’t leave that date without scoring at least an HR email ID, if not a phone number.

Navni Kumar, 34, writer and editor.

Working from home is a blessing in many ways but it’s very easy to drop the ball. To sustain it long-term, set boundaries for yourself so work and life goals are met. Wake up at least an hour before that first morning meeting. Work from a spot other than the bed. Have a rough to-do list for the day. Reward yourself with a snack only when you check a significant task off it. The routine will help keep you as productive as you were when you commuted to the office. And if you do need a quick power nap post lunch, who’s to know?

Naina Redhu, 43, luxury photographer at Naina.co

Document your work. Case studies. Visual portfolios. Writing assignments. Projects. Actually being able to look at your work over the years, will show you how far you’ve come and will give you a sense of accomplishment that few other things can. If it’s available to view publicly, like a blog, it’s easy marketing too.

Nimit Jain, 43, associate general manager, Sony India.

All in all, in whatever field you’re in, there are probably no more than a total of 10-15 common interview questions. Learn what they are, figure out what the average interviewer expects from each answer, and you’ll most likely never have to worry about bombing an interview ever again.

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