How to start a career: M.O.N.E.Y is the key

By Linh PMP

Yes, that’s what I wish I’d known when I started my career: the M.O.N.E.Y rule including five key components: Mentors, Objectives, Nice-to-all, Earn-it-yourself and Yourself.


Starting the working life, you will much likely find yourself disoriented, overwhelmed and even lost. You will find yourself very hungry to learn new things and impress others, then realize life is very tough and unpredictable. A mentor is the one who can give you more tools, or more perspectives, or connect you with more people you need. In the perfect case, the mentor can be your first boss. Some of my friends chose their first jobs (over other more well-paid offers) because they wanted to learn from a particular person in the companies. In fact, your first boss’s working style may have a very strong influence on or even shape your style (except if you quit the job too early to be influenced).

I really regretted that I did not think about it more strategically and turn my boss or someone in my network to be my mentor in the very early career stage. I thought I would make it my own way and I did not want to be influenced by any others. But in fact, having a mentor is not to ask for influence, but to open our minds for in-depth discussions that may inspire ourselves and even our mentors. Seriously, if you don’t have a mentor, find her/him today!


All mentors will want to know what you want to do with your life. Trust me, it is highly likely that your today dream is far from the reality in the future because we do change what we want on the way we are growing up. But you still need to think about what you want in the next five years, three years and one year so that you have a target to run for and a story to tell your mentors, your fellows, your recruiters and most importantly, yourself. The objectives would be the inspiration for you to grow with a focus.

I started my career in an international branding project. I put a lot of effort on finishing the tasks such as doing market research, making the business plan, preparing the presentation, going on business trips, etc., but all of them are to fulfill my project’s objectives. What I should have done better was to start with my own objectives. For example, if I had wanted to be an expert in branding, I should have listed the marketing topics to study more about, the books to read, the people to meet and network, the events to join, then choose a mentor who is excellent in that. My company’s objectives should be supported by my personal ones, but should not drive me around without my focus. I believe in The Invisible Hand Theory (by Adam Smith), which resonates the effectiveness of self-interest.


Being aware of the self-interest does not mean being selfish. The understanding of self-interest helps us stay focused and oriented while the action of selfishness makes us stuck in our own trap. Everyone appears in our life for a reason, and it is our art to make it a good reason. Through the time, I see that, by eliminating the selfishness and being more supportive, I can learn more from people around. I worked as a branding executive at a university where I learned about customer service from a dorm staff, about event management from a student life executive, about patience from a kungfu teacher and about tolerance from a student.

If I had paid attention only to my work, not to the people around, I would have never made those friends and learned those lessons. Plus, who knows later in life, the seem-to-be-irrelevant people may connect me with the opportunity where I am meant to be. And more importantly, this nice rule helps build a positive working environment where I spend most of my life.


Be nice, but don’t stay behind. Most of the time, we don’t get what we deserve, but what we ask for and fight for. So don’t wait for others to recommend us. We have to stand up and earn it ourselves if we want it. For example, if you want the boss to raise your salary, you have to prove that you are eligible for that, for sure, and further, propose it to the boss with a critical analysis and reasoning. If you are good but you don’t make people know how good you are and what you demand, no one will give you credit and reward. It is important to do well, and, not less important, to present yourself well.

This rule also implies that we must take the lead and say yes anytime we have a chance, even when we think we are not really ready. What usually holds us back is the feeling of being inferior. I have discussed this in “How to grow out of feeling inferior”.


A balanced life is a luxury dream for workaholics. It is impossible to have a perfectly balanced lifestyle when we have just started the career because we are earning for the freedom later in life. But health is always non-negotiable. I did not take my health seriously, which made me very sick and reduced my work productivity as well as my personal confidence. Then it took me six months of including physical exercises in my schedule to gain back the personal strength, the productivity and the confidence. Yet I still suffer from a thyroid gland problem as a post-extremely-imbalanced life effect.

So don’t forget yourself, always keep in mind to prioritize your health even during peaking busy time and maintain a happy balanced life during normal time. I also shared about this in the post “How to love myself”.

That’s it. Hope you can think of the way to apply this MONEY rule to bring more VALUE for yourself and people around.

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