Jenny Cheng, vice president and general manager of Google Wallet, says that one of the “worst” and most common career mistakes you can make in your 20s is “expecting things to happen just for the sake of it.” that you deserve them”.
Cheng, 50, fell into this trap early in his career. She started working at Deloitte as a senior consultant shortly after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, and says she spent much of her early 20s struggling to promote herself at work.
“I remember thinking I was going to get promoted because I was doing such a good job, but I think the mistake in this case is that I didn’t realize it wasn’t just about merit,” she recalls.
Even if you think you’ve earned a promotion, a raise, or some other kind of recognition, Cheng says you also need to be clear and vocal about what you want in the workplace.
“Look for these opportunities and then position yourself for them. Raise your hand and say, ‘I’m interested in doing this,'” she explains. “Then you have to hold your managers accountable for giving you those opportunities by checking in with them and asking for updates.”
You might feel uncomfortable asking for things early in your career, but having the confidence to do so is “so, so important,” adds Cheng. If you expect to get a promotion or a raise without saying exactly what you want, she says, “you risk capping your career or slowing your progress.”
It’s also important to embrace a willingness to learn and fail early in your career so you can continually grow and improve as a professional.
“When I started at Deloitte, one of the senior leaders said to me, ‘Jenny, just because I’m older and have a higher title than you, doesn’t mean I know more than you,'” says Cheng . “It was really encouraging to hear that, that even the top leaders don’t know everything, so I was able to free myself from the pressure to do the same thing.”
Now, Cheng is on the receiving end of such comments. “At Google, people will assume that because I’m the vice president, I must know everything,” she says. “I constantly remind people that I don’t know everything, because if I did, my job would be very, very boring – and who wants that?”
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