At just 28 years of age, Varun Mehta has already held key positions at Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson. Today he is a VP at the Clutch Group--leading the company's financial services practice.
If you ask him the secrets of building a wildly successfully career before the age of 30, Mehta will first tell you that you shouldn't try to copy what others have done--you already have the answers within you. "There is no secret formula, no blueprint to success in business," he says. "To try to mimic one is to lose before you even get in the game. The idea that you can recreate success is a myth."
According to Mehta, there are five strategies millennials use to build successful careers. And guess what? They just happen to be great advice for people at any age.
Instead of waiting for change to find you, continuously innovate in your job to stay ahead of it. Take the initiative to come up with ideas for doing things better--and then have the courage to advance and implement them. Says Mehta, "Experience isn't required for innovation. Thinking differently is. Look at everything and figure out where and how you can contribute, and then do so."
One of the best ways to advance your career is to think, "How can I help others succeed?" When your team wins, you win along with it. It's not all about you--when you're a team player, you build a strong foundation for your own success. According to Mehta, "Who gets credit is irrelevant. What matters is that as a team you are doing great work, achieving your goals. Steer people in the right direction. Make others look good--your clients and colleagues, bosses, and employees. Be a true team player, and success will come back to you tenfold."
3. Google it
With Google at your fingertips, you no longer have to tell your boss "I don't know" when you're asked a question you don't know the answer to. Instead, you can say, "I will find out," and have an answer quickly and easily. Says Mehta, "Today, we have an opportunity most people didn't, to surf our way to becoming an expert or at least dangerously close--with Google as a secret weapon."
4. Rethink dedication
When a boss gives you an assignment, as a dedicated employee you usually jump right in--sometimes without thinking. Instead of racing to a solution, step back for a moment and think about how you can do it better and smarter. Go beyond normal dedication to think about alternatives. Apply logic to your work. Do more than is asked of you. There is always a better, faster way to do things. As Mehta suggests, "Work smarter--not harder--and you will outwit your competitors and move up in your company at a rapid pace."
5. Chase skills, not titles
We all want to get promoted in our jobs, and achieve the job titles that go along with those promotions. This is a mistake. People get so focused on what they should do that they lose sight of what they could do. Your success in the long run won't come from working for a dream company or holding a prestigious job title. It depends on the skills and abilities you learn and bring to the table. Says Mehta, "Think of your career in terms of building blocks, each block representing a set of skills--and then do the work. Do whatever it takes to acquire the skills that will help take you to the next level. This takes guts and a willingness to turn a traditional career path on its head."
Remember--you cannot copy success. But you can design it.