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10 Pieces of the Worst Career Advice and Why Teenagers Should Ignore Them

Worst Career Advice and Why Teenagers Should Ignore Them

We've asked ten seasoned professionals, including founders and CEOs, to share the worst career advice they've ever received and why teenagers should disregard such advice. From the misconception of self-employment as an invalid path to the importance of understanding that passion needs planning and skills, this article offers a wealth of insights for those starting their career journey.

  • Self-Employment as an Invalid Path
  • Don’t Rest When Needed
  • Play It Safe
  • Value Appearance Over Skills
  • Chase Your Comfort, Not a Dream
  • Go With the Flow
  • Think Inside the Box
  • Job Hop for “Better”
  • Take Blind Risks
  • Passion Without Planning and Skills

Self-Employment as an Invalid Path

The worst career advice ever received came from multiple people in different variations: "Go work for someone else." After graduating from college, it felt like getting a job was the next best step. But nearly eight years later, stepping into self-employment instantly revealed why there was never a sense of belonging at any of the previous jobs. 

Self-employment just "fit." When starting and growing a business, all the pieces fell into place like magic. The path had never been clearer. 

It's not the path for everyone. But if you're bouncing from job to job, feeling a lack of passion, and never finding your best fit, know there are other options to traditional work.

Alli Hill, Founder and Director, Fleurish Freelance

Don’t Rest When Needed

Early in my days as a business owner, another professional told me that rest was for the weak. Unfortunately, I was at an age where I was more influenced by others than I'd like to admit, and I started working more than I should have. 

The outcome was certainly more, but not better. My decision-making suffered significantly, and my skill set did not improve. If you are an ambitious teenager, recognize the value of rest as a tool for furthering yourself, not as something that gets in the way of success.

Jason Vaught, Director of Content, SmashBrand

Play It Safe

The worst career advice I have ever received was, "Play it safe," and follow a well-defined path. Even if it doesn't ignite your passion, you should follow what worked for others because it will indeed work for you. I do not agree with this thought. Sacrificing what truly excites you is a completely wrong approach.

Making a career is not a phenomenon; it is a process. You can only stick to the process if you enjoy it. Many people live their lives doing what they don't like because it is a well-trodden path for someone else. What worked for others doesn't necessarily mean it will also work for you.

Following a passion makes the process of achieving it enjoyable. When something is enjoyable, it is easy to stick to it. You will not regret your decisions later. I have seen many examples of uneducated people also earning. So, there is no definite way to be successful; you need to follow your passion and be persistent.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

Value Appearance Over Skills

A recruitment agency once told me that I needed to wear makeup, cut my hair, and wear plain black shoes to appeal to anyone hiring for a digital marketing position. I didn't heed this advice, and I've been in the digital marketing industry for a decade now. 

I can confirm that no one is, or has ever been, bothered by my appearance. They are more interested in my positive attitude towards work, the skills I bring to the team, and my eagerness to develop for my own benefit, as well as that of the company. 

If you ever receive such advice, don't let it change who you are. Instead, be yourself and have enough confidence to know that you are, and will be, far more than what you look like as a teenager.

Charlotte Fish, SEO Manager, Seventy7

Chase Your Comfort, Not a Dream

The worst career advice I ever got was from close family who suggested I should go back to working in the supermarket business for my uncle instead of building my startup, FlyNumber. If you're a teenager and someone gives you similar advice, here's why you should think twice before taking it.

First off, working for family can be comfortable, but it often limits your growth. You're in a bubble where you're not truly challenged. In a startup, every day is a new puzzle to solve, and that's how you grow—fast and furious.

Second, if you have a passion or a vision, don't let anyone divert you from it. Building a startup is like crafting your own destiny. Sure, it's risky and stressful, but the rewards are incomparable. You learn so much more, so fast, and the skills you acquire are invaluable.

So, if you've got a dream, chase it. Don't settle for the safe and familiar path just because someone else thinks it's the "right" thing to do.

Nader Jaber, Founder, FlyNumber

Go With the Flow

"Go with the flow" was the worst career advice I've ever received. Is it even advice in the first place? If you ever receive this one, please don't take it to heart.

Going with the flow could be great advice for other aspects of life, but certainly not for building a career, especially if you aspire to be an entrepreneur. I believe we should control the flow instead of just going with it.

I know we're not always fully in control, but you can always decide which career path to pursue. You can start by learning relevant skills, obtaining some certifications, joining communities to find connections, and many other ways. 

Remember that your dreams are yours. No one will achieve them for you unless you do it yourself. Nothing comes for free until you work hard. So, my advice is: take control of the flow and constantly upgrade your qualifications!

Andre Oentoro, CEO and Founder, Breadnbeyond

Think Inside the Box

Any advice based on trends of what is currently in high demand, or the traditional notion of sticking to one career path, should be taken with a pinch of salt. The world is rapidly evolving as a result of technology and other shifts in the economy, as well as changes in the natural and political environment. Learn to embrace the idea of change and seek out opportunities to try things that genuinely interest you. You are way more likely to feel fulfilled and find success if you feel motivated by what you are doing. 

And don't be afraid to think outside of the box; the world is always in need of free-thinkers and entrepreneurs! Oh, and the most random career advice I ever received was to become a pest exterminator!

Shaun Gozo-Hill, Director, 2Game

Job Hop for “Better”

It really is about starting somewhere and sticking with it. Sure, sometimes changing jobs is the right thing to do, but too often, younger workers jump from job to job looking for "better" without knowing how to recognize it. Stick it out with a good company. Learn their trade, build your resume, and gain some perspective on what you really want.

Christopher Olson, CFO, Surfside Services

Take Blind Risks

It's a cliché, but "jump and the net will appear." This advice is often used for a good reason: to get people to take risks they ordinarily might not. However, many hear this advice and interpret it as "take risks blindly." I would amend it to "make sure you have something of a net, and then be sure to actually jump."

It's okay to go after your dreams, chase long shots, etc. But you need to eat in the interim, too. That doesn't mean you need to have a fully thought-out "fallback plan," but it does mean that you need some kind of plan.

Danny Star, CEO, Websites Depot Inc. 

Passion Without Planning and Skills

Worst advice: "Follow your passion, and the money will come." While passion is important, it's not the only factor for career success. You also need market demand and skills to back it up.

Why ignore it? Passion without a plan can lead to financial instability and career disappointment. Instead, aim for the intersection of what you're good at, what you enjoy, and what people are willing to pay for. This balanced approach is more likely to lead to both job satisfaction and financial security.

John Cammidge, Freelance Google Ads Consultant, JCammidge

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Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.