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Instagram executive Eva Chen shares her career advice

Eva Chen shares her career advice. Source: Getty
Eva Chen shares her career advice. Source: Getty

Careers nowadays aren’t 20-year-long stints in the same office job.

With the rise of freelancing and contract work, millennials in particular are shifting career direction constantly.

“I'm a member of Gen X. I think five to 10 years is how long you should stay in a business,” freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie told Yahoo Finance.

“Gen Y is about one to two years, and for the freelancers, you can go from employer to employer every two weeks.”

But while that may give rise to some uncertainty, Instagram’s director of fashion partnerships, Eva Chen, believe that’s not a bad thing, telling Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit in New York that careers are a “moving target”.

It’s something she knows about first-hand.

“I was pre-med in college, I worked in a law firm for almost a year. I worked in PR. Obviously, I worked in magazines. I work now at Instagram. I write children’s books at night, like in the two hours of free time I have.”

Chen added that we shouldn’t have the expectation that young people should know what they want to do.

“People put so much pressure on college students and also 20-somethings, and I’m guilty of this myself,” she said.

“I’ll be talking to someone who’s a sophomore in college and I’ll be like, ‘What do you want to do when you finish?’

“And I think it’s really important to remember that a career is not a target. It’s a moving target.

“It will change. It will evolve.”

And though your career might be forever-changing, you should still be networking.

“I kind of hate the word ‘networking’, ‘cause it sounds kind of sleazy, right? But just try to develop relationships and talk to as many people as you can and be curious.

“Just know that if you’re open to opportunities the opportunities will find you. And I think the most important thing is to talk to as many people as you can.”

Take breaks to redirect your career

Earlier this year, Eva Chen told MyDomaine that women especially should be able to feel that they’re allowed to take breaks in work.

Chen said though the closure of magazine and former workplace Lucky was “obviously stressful and difficult”, it wasn’t a bad thing in retrospect.

“Looking back at it, I think it's really important to know that when your career has pivots or shifts, that's not a reflection on you and it's not a negative,” she said. “Take it as a moment to see where you want to redirect your career.”

“The power of human connection and keeping in touch with people, whether it's through Instagram direct messages, whether it's through texting, whether it's through email, if you meet someone you click with, keep in touch with them.

“It sounds kind of basic but a lot of people don't do it. That's why I have to give it as a tip.”

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