This is the smartest career move to make in your 20s, CEO says: ‘Allow yourself to be a bit untethered’

 Chances are, you’re not going to find your dream job in your 20s. 

But trying new things — and refusing to settle for just any job — could benefit your career in the long run, says Diane Hoskins, co-CEO and global co-chair of the architecture and design firm Gensler.

Hoskins spent her 20s working in different cities and industries after graduating with a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She lived in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, earned a master of business administration from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and spent two years working in real estate.

“I did a lot of moving, tried a lot of different jobs and let my decisions mainly be guided by my passions … it was phenomenal,” Hoskins, who declined to share her age, tells CNBC Make It. “So by the time I turned 30, I felt like I had this diverse, 360-degree experience that set me up for success in the next phase of my career.” 

Experimenting with different careers in your 20s can help you develop your skills, discover new passions, or, in Hoskins’ case, return to old ones. 

Hoskins rejoined Gensler in 1995 as a managing director of their Washington, D.C. office in her 30s after having worked there between 1983 and 1985 as an architect designer at their New York office.

That decision was influenced, in part, by one of Hoskins’ favorite childhood hobbies: flipping through architecture magazines and doodling designs based on the spreads. A native of Chicago, Hoskins says she grew up with plenty of exposure to the striking buildings that make up the city’s downtown and pages of Architectural Record, a magazine her mother often brought home. 

Gensler's co-CEOs Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen
Gensler’s co-CEOs Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen
Photo: Jim Krantz

Although she liked all the jobs she held in her 20s, Hoskins says she quickly realized that the career that would bring her the most fulfillment would be one in architecture and design. “It came full circle,” Hoskins says of her career. She’s worked at Gensler for nearly 30 years.

“Ultimately, I decided to come back into architecture and design because I missed being part of the creative process — helping clients bring their vision to life, and designing spaces that help organizations solve their challenges and meet their goals,” she explains.

When you’re just starting your career, it’s normal to feel a lot of pressure to make all the “right” decisions, she says — it might feel like those decisions are high-stakes or permanent, but, as Hoskins stresses, “they’re not.” 

Younger professionals might get a bad reputation for job-hopping, but if your work doesn’t align with your skills, passions, or professional goals, “don’t be afraid to try something different,” Hoskins says. “You can allow yourself to be a bit untethered.”

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