5 Things Every Young Professional Should Know Before Hitting 30

By Zach Buckley

Face it. You’ve had three decades already. Granted, the first two were spent growing up. Then you went to school to pursue a degree and now you’re out in the real world and have been for some time, haven’t you? And what do you have to show for it? We’re not speaking of possessions or success in starting a family. Rather, what important life lessons have you learned? What skills have you achieved and how socially—and professionally—comfortable are you with certain tasks? Here’s a list of some of the things you should know before you hit the big three-oh.

What You Should Know Before You’re 30

  • How to Live Within a Budget

Not only does this skill determine how much money you might have in savings, at your youngish age and in this economy, having money equals more opportunities and flexibility. If your company changes hands and your job conditions deteriorate, whether or not you have adequate savings determines whether you have to keep your job or if you can explore different options.

  • How to Ask for a Raise

Despite the economic downturn, the stale employment rate and every other excuse your boss might raise against you making this formal request, asking for a raise needs to be something you’re familiar with and have the preparation and ammunition, so to speak, to prove your worth.

  • How to Discern Between Office Casual and Indiscretion

All companies have different cultures and all offices can be said to have varying degrees of formality as part of their subculture. Where this border lies often depends upon the office manager, his or her youth, your boss’s self-confidence or any number of factors. The derivation of the degree of formality is less important than your ability to recognize and remain within its confines without working like a prisoner. (See Suggestion #1)

  • Your Wardrobe for the Next Work Day

You are not 21 anymore. It isn’t “cute and boyish” for you to wear an egg-stained tie with your suit or a Saturday night date skirt because you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home last night. Seriously folks, some people have been doing one simple thing since grade school and it hasn’t failed them yet: Lay out your planned wardrobe the night before. You’ll have time to spot any flaws and make an alternate plan. What you won’t do is look like those adults in the Subway commercials sound.

  • How to Respond to Criticism

The only people I know who respond well to criticism are dead. It takes practice, tact and a lot of skill to master. If you know it’s coming, you’re liable to already be on the defensive and ready to take offense at the person’s first greeting. If it comes as a complete surprise, it’s hard to stand slack-jawed and near tears as you endure an “attack” on something on which you worked so hard. By 30, it should come as no surprise to you that almost everything will be criticized in some way (including perfection). Some of it may be personal, some of the objections may be valid and some pointers may be helpful. Be ready and open to the helpful and valid suggestions. Try not to physically attack the person making the made-up personal criticism. (See Suggestion #1)

Ask Your Mentor and Co-Workers What Their Lists Might Be

These to-do tasks before you are 30 years old are both general and personal. Most every successful young professional at this age is going to be practicing this skill on some level. They might have chosen five different tasks, however, those being the most difficult for them to integrate into their professional, adult life.

About the author: Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture.  When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food. Follow him on Twitter! @Zach_buckley


14 thoughts on “5 Things Every Young Professional Should Know Before Hitting 30

  1. I am so glad you included the wardrobe tip here. It is unacceptable for people in a professional environment to look like they just rolled out of bed. No wrinkles, please.

    Great post. Fun read. I shared it with my networks.



    1. Thanks Kenna! I appreciate your comment. Funny to see what some people call “business casual’ these days, isn’t it? My mother taught me the importance of an iron! 🙂 Thanks for passing this on to your networks.



      1. I’m not fabulous with an iron myself, but I do my best. I certainly know how to drop things off at the dry cleaner. 😉 Dress for the job you want, right?


  2. Seeing as 30 isn’t too far away for me, I found this article interesting. I think I know this stuff, but it was a great reminder!


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