Career Power-UpCareer Skills

Five Quotes to Live by as You Start Your Career

By Paige Kassalen

People often try to answer the question “what advice would you give your younger self?” This is a hard question to answer, because when you look back on the decisions you made and the outcomes of those decisions, it’s easy to forget all of the challenges you might have been battling at a certain time that impacted the choices you made.

I thought that instead of outlining specific actions to take for a successful career, I would compile a list of quotes to live by that will help you establish a positive mindset to prepare you for your career.

After attending many conferences, listening to webinars, and reading professionalism books, these are the quotes I recommend we all live by as we start our careers:

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” – David Morrison

Have you ever been in a situation and did not agree with what was happening? It could be a misalignment of values, noticing unconscious bias, or anything that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. You have a voice and should use it, no matter how far along you are in your career. If you are not comfortable, speak up, or else you are just perpetuating that negative behavior.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

The people we surround ourselves with can expose us to new things, get us out of our comfort zone, and empower us to be the best versions of ourselves. It can be so easy to fall into the same old routine, but it is important to continue developing relationships with people from all walks of life to gain a better understanding of the world and our own potential.

 “80 percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

You will never have more energy than you do at the start of your career, so use it! If you’re invited to an event, go! If you see a job you are interested in, apply! If you want to learn a new skill, do it! You never know what opportunities will pop up, but the time to start preparing is not when the opportunity is first presented. You should start preparing and positioning yourself in advance — and showing up is the first step.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

We have all been in situations where someone makes us feel stupid or unimportant, and no one likes to feel this way. Even at the start of our careers, we can make a big impression on people. It’s important to remember that the way you make people feel will help set you up as a leader as you progress in your career.

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” – Indira Gandhi

Achieving success requires a lot of hard work, and there is no way around that. Throughout your career, you will most likely encounter people who will try and take credit for your work, so it is important to develop this mindset from the beginning of your career, because it will lay the foundation for when you are in a position of power. As you take on greater responsibilities, you can change that status quo, give people the credit they deserve, and help lift others up.

These are all quotes that I have latched onto over the years that have really resonated with me and helped me become the person I am today. Of course, there are many quotes out there that could help guide you through your career, so when you hear something that resonates with you, latch onto it, as well.

I could tell you to network or tell you to enroll in a programming certificate, but at the end of the day, if you spend your entire career standing up for what is right, having strong relationships that positively challenge you, taking advantage of all opportunities that arise, making people feel valued, and working hard and then using your success to lift others up, then no matter what you do in your career, you’ll look back and see success.


Paige Kassalen loves to put her creativity to use by solving problems in emerging technical fields, and has been an IEEE member since 2012. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2015, Kassalen began her career with Covestro LLC. in 2015, and soon became the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in GlamourFast Company and the Huffington Post.

After Solar Impulse, Kassalen helped Covestro develop its strategy for materials for the future of mobility, and shared her work at conferences around the United States. In 2020, Kassalen received a Master of Information Systems Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and now applies her problem-solving skills to the finance industry, where she works with teams to develop big data strategies and implement innovative technologies.

Read more of Paige’s Career Power-Up articles here.

Paige Kassalen

Paige loves to put her creativity to use by solving problems in emerging technical fields, and has been an IEEE member since 2012. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2015, Kassalen began her career with Covestro LLC. in 2015, and soon became the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in Glamour, Fast Company and the Huffington Post. After Solar Impulse, Kassalen has helped Covestro and JPMorgan Chase develop and implement strategies to embrace a range of emerging technology trends from autonomous vehicles to machine learning. In 2020, Kassalen received a Master of Information Systems Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and now uses her problem-solving skills at an artificial intelligence startup, CrowdAI, where she leads the implementation of computer vision solutions for existing commercial customers.

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