Why I Chose To Build My Corporate Résumé And Forgo The Start-Up Life

by Mallika Pal

I'm practical to a fault, a lover of stability and a creature of comfort.

I’m very much a conservative professional. I'm pro-establishment and part of the system.

I prefer playing to my strengths and climbing up the corporate ladder instead of having an appetite for risk.

I make no excuses for it.

I know the "in vogue" thing to do in the zeitgeist of start-up culture is to become an entrepreneur and create. Jumping on the bandwagon of an established company has become passé in favor of building your own.

But my question is this: If I'm nowhere, how can I take a business somewhere?

One of the best pieces of career advice I've ever received has been to pace myself.

If you start working in your 20s and retire by time you're in your 60s, your career would span an average of 40 years.

Therefore, it isn’t asking much to forgo a third of it to build your capital (intellectual, financial and social), before you make your game-changing career move.

Be an asset somewhere until you figure out what you really want to do with your life. When you do, you’ll have more leverage, more legitimacy and more life experience to bring to the table.

I’m a big believer in the cliché, "Do what you love." But to find what you love follows a process of elimination.

Just like your love life, you have to experiment with different things to figure out what you like and, more importantly, what you don’t like.

You owe it to yourself to find a career you can absolutely slay.

We exist in a constant state of evolution. As you change, so will your life’s passions and standards.

That’s a theory in tandem with one of my favorite pieces of dating advice.

I wouldn’t spend too much bandwidth on a guy, no matter how perfect he is, because he wouldn’t be the guy I end up with, anyway.

This is because right now, I’m not the woman I’ll end up being in the future.

What you begin doing is rarely what you end up doing. But you have to start somewhere, and you have to start by starting.

I think what’s really valuable in the beginning of your career is understanding the basics of business, networks and work culture.

Paying attention to what success is made of and actively seeking out mentors can groom you exponentially.

When did taking your time mean not betting on yourself?

I think it’s crap you have to be young to be bold, or jaded to be old. I think you can see things sensibly when you’re young, and you can still view the world as your oyster, no matter what point in your life you're at.

It's an amazing feeling to have your sh*t together in your 20s. I love being a woman with a plan.

You build your personal economy, you're positioned closer to the top much sooner, and the world finally starts taking you seriously.

We’ve come of age during one of the most liberating eras in history.

We're a generation people who see our mid-30s as the new late 20s, and we are in committed relationships with our careers.

We’re all waiting to find ourselves at the right time and at the right place. But we need to remember that first, we have to be the right people.

You have to build the real-world knowledge and skills to stand out amongst the hyper-competition.

You are entitled to nothing. You have to pay your dues.

In my experience, the best way to do this is to set annual milestones for yourself. Decide where you want to see yourself in the next year, or rather, who you want to be.

Hustle for it, and see how well life treats you. Just keep moving, and never drop your momentum.

Work hard, and leave the rest in the hands of serendipity and providence.

Just know that when the right-time-right-place moment comes, you'll be the right person to seize it.