Almost every week, I hear a new story from someone about the challenges they’ve faced in their career.
One of the most common threads I hear in these conversations involves choosing a path.
Figuring out where to start can be tough. Just spend fifteen minutes searching any job board. The sheer volume of open roles can be overwhelming.
So to address some of the angst around choosing where to start, I want to highlight five roles that offer amazing experience for anyone early in their career—especially if you’re unsure where to start.
Role #1: Customer Success
Customer success comes in many titles and fashions. But one thing remains pretty consistent: the role is about supporting customer satisfaction.
This role offers a front-row seat into the needs and wants of a company’s customers. It’s a crash course on the company’s products and how people use them. Plus, it’s a job that, when done well, offers a ton of career upside.
If you love working with people, teaching people, or solving problems under pressure, this is a great role to explore.
Another huge benefit of customer success is it’s a highly leverageable role, meaning experience working directly with customers provides a ton of valuable insight that directly applies to almost any other career path.
Learn more about customer success here.
Role #2: Sales
Sales tends to get a bad rap. But it shouldn’t—at least, not when done well. The best kind of sales is prescriptive or consultative. Someone in the world has a problem they’re not yet sure how to solve or one they’re maybe not aware of yet. Great salespeople can identify the people who have a legitimate felt need and build a relationship around filling that need the best way possible.
Sales is a great place to start for someone who’s competitive. But it’s not all just about hitting quotas. If you’re a people person, a good listener, and the idea of speaking to strangers doesn’t bother you, then sales could be a great starting point.
Another added benefit of sales is it’s a role that offers a very tangible relationship between results and income. But don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s an easy job you’ll for sure get rich doing. Sales takes a lot of work—and the best salespeople I know are masters of executing process.
If a career in sales sounds interesting to you, learn more here.
Role #3: Marketing
Think about one of your favorite products or services. Then try to figure out how you first learned about it. Was it online? An advertisement? Maybe a friend told you?
At the highest level, marketing is responsible for creating those first interactions. And when it’s done well, marketing creates lasting, positive interactions—and they help connect you (a consumer) to a product or service you need or want.
A lot of people think marketing just means choosing the color palette, creating logos, or putting on events. But there’s so much more to it than that. The best marketing is about understanding people, not plastering annoying ads all over your desktop screen.
Marketing comes in every shape and size today. There’s creative work—like copywriting, design, videography, and more. Or there’s communication, like social media or community management. And there are even a lot of analytical career paths.
If you’re someone who enjoys asking, “Why?”, then searching for the answer, marketing may be a great path.
Learn more about marketing roles here.
Role #4: Design
I once heard a seasoned designer say great design is more about what not to include than it is about fitting new elements onto something. In a way, designers are masters of visual communication and empathy.
There are countless career paths for designers, too—from web- or graphic-designer to user-interface or user-experience design, and even the design of physical products.
If you’re creative, artistic, fancy yourself a perfectionist, or even just get excited about a beautiful-looking website, then there may be a designer in you waiting to be unleashed.
Learn more about design roles here.
Role #5: Operations
Operations encompasses a broad category of roles that basically make businesses go. It’s a great place to get an inside look at how a business functions and how decisions are made.
Operational roles can involve a lot of different hats—from managing customer databases to creating workflows, or even managing employees. But at the heart of it, operations is usually responsible for executing tasks to improve the overall function of the business.
There are a lot of roles that fit into this—from department-specific roles, like sales- or marketing-operations, to IT, or even finance or accounting in some cases.
If you’re someone who loves solving complex problems, making systems run more smoothly, or are just a very organized, detail-oriented person, operations might be a great place to start.
Learn more about operations here.
Explored all these roles and aren’t sure which one is best for you to start with? Check out this fun quiz we created. It helps map your personality and the things you enjoy onto the landscape of different career possibilities.