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What Career Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

An illustration showing three people looking at enlarged quote boxes, advice for younger self.
By publishing these letters, we hope to pass along advice to others who are just starting out or are looking for inspiration. [Malte Mueller / Getty]

We asked our Marketing Trailblazer community to write about lessons they’ve learned over the years. We hope they inspire you, too!

When I was a freshman in college, one of my professors had us write a letter to our future selves. We wouldn’t see the letter again until senior year, right around the time we graduated. He wanted us to write words of encouragement and map out what we wanted to achieve over the four years. That could be things like studying internationally, getting a great internship, or focusing on a specific major.

He wanted us to be crystal clear, even down to what we expected our GPA and favorite class to be. When I received my letter as a senior, I saw that I had written, “I’m going to study abroad.” And I did end up studying abroad at the College of International Studies in Spain. Writing it down pushed me to actually get it done.

Now that I’m a few years into my marketing career, I want to flip this exercise. Can you think of advice for your younger self? Of course there are things I wish I had known that would’ve made life easier or smoother.

I asked a few friends from the Marketing Trailblazer community to also write letters to their younger selves. By publishing these letters, we hope to pass along advice to others who are just starting out or are looking for inspiration. We’re saying, Here’s what I wish I knew. I hope this helps you on your path.

How to use your voice at work

Guilda Hilaire, director of product marketing at Salesforce

Dear Guilda,

Remember to use your voice. Women in the tech space, especially black women, are often afraid to speak up. We’re told to coddle people and make others look good. You’ll hear that, and you may stop using your voice and just take orders.

But here’s the thing: It’s not just about using your voice, but how you do it. Show your receipts. Make your accomplishments known. Don’t let your lack of knowledge about a subject or others’ lack of confidence in you hold you back. If you can see yourself doing something, you have won more than half the battle. If you can see yourself as successful, others will see you that way too. Finally, always be sincere, humble and empathetic, no matter how far you advance in your career.

Love,

Your future self

Your sacrifices will mean something

Karmel James, senior Salesforce administrator (and former chemistry major), Viz.AI

Dear Karmel,

As a [mostly] functioning adult you’ll get to do things we never imagined. For example, you’ll travel around the U.S. living in hotels and bed-surfing with nothing but a suitcase and a backpack. It’s all because you have a super-awesome job. Basically, you spend your days in this system called Salesforce in which your role is to make people more successful by using it.

Right, that sounds like the best problem-solving job you could ever have?! Although we technically never practice chemistry, we utilize those lessons it taught us every day:

  • Everything is a theory until there is evidence to prove or disprove it
  • Keep all variables consistent except for one, iterate that one until you can’t anymore followed by a rinse and repeat with the next variable
  • Data is meant to support the story that is told, so keep the why in mind
  • Failure is just a record type of success (that will make more sense later)

Now, why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that the sacrifices you made when you were younger paid off.

With love,

Your future self

What to do if you’re tired of your job

Erin Duncan, Pardot product director at Sercante

Dear Erin,

Here are a few tips from your older, maybe wiser (maybe) self:

  • Get over your imposter syndrome and quit that job with the terrible, terrible boss. If a job makes you cry, it’s not you, it’s them.
  • You don’t have to wear every hat in Marketing to be successful. Focus on excelling in the areas you enjoy and you’ll build a better career for yourself.
  • Lean into your love of teaching others – it will just make you better at what you do.
  • If you grow tired of a job, speak up! Tell your boss how you want your position to evolve first. They might surprise you.
  • And finally, don’t try to foster dogs. You’ll keep them all and end up with way too many.

How a community can help you at work

Mike Creuzer, Pardot partnerships and API integrations lead, Sercante

Hey Mike, listen up!

Never sell out your morals, but remember making it right sometimes is less important than making it work. “Good enough” is sometimes exactly that, and is all that is needed. But don’t let this become an excuse for sloppy work.

Find a topic and become an expert in that topic. Share what you know with the community, and the community will help you with the things you aren’t an expert in. Nobody can know all the things, not even know-it-alls. Test all the things. Find new ways to be wrong. It’s okay. Experts just learned the hard way faster and iterated more than the non-experts.

How to find fulfillment at work

Marcos Duran, marketing manager at Sercante

Dear Marcos,

I know you won’t believe this letter is from the future, but please indulge me a little. Life will get hard, and there will be lots of downs (lots of them). There will be, however, many, many moments of happiness as well. The moments of gold, if you will.

Focus on those and move forward. Life is an incredible journey and it’s important to move ahead. Here are a few tips I would give you:

  • Find community. Don’t wait too long to get out there and find your people you click with. You can’t do it by yourself.
  • Embrace change. There will be a lot of changes in your life and throughout your career, keep moving forward, you are worth it.
  • Say yes if you find it personally fulfilling. Don’t worry about the resume.
  • Live your life – don’t use work as an excuse!
  • Google “marketing operations” when you get to college. That will change it all for you.
  • Invest in crypto!

Gotta run!

Marcos

When you want to give up

Ayrielle Berryman, Salesforce solution architect at Digital Science

Hey Girl,

Between 24 and 32 years old, you’ll doubt yourself a lot, but don’t! Doubt leads to worry, and you have nothing to worry about! Don’t let others deter you from your dreams and aspirations. You’ll work super hard and your hard work will pay off in the end.

You’ll have quite a few jobs. You’ll hop around because you’ll feel like those jobs aren’t the right fit for you or you’ll struggle with senior management, and that’s okay. Eventually, you’ll find the job or jobs (wink) that will make you happy. Don’t be surprised if you’re running the show and doing your own thing one day!

Throughout the course of your life, it’ll be easy to give up, but keep going. It’ll be worth it!

Love,

Ayrie

Talk marketing with us

The Marketing Cloud Trailblazers group loves to talk about all things marketing. Use this group to review resources, ask questions, help each other, and share experiences.

Guilda Hilaire Director, Product Marketing

Guilda Hilaire is a Director of Product Marketing, Marketing Cloud, and proud Trailblazer advocate at Salesforce.

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