Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon shares his number one piece of advice for millennials who want to get ahead in their careers

The career ladder may be overrated. David Solomon pictured.

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The career ladder may be overrated. David Solomon pictured.
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REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

  • Millennials shouldn’t expect to always know what’s next in their careers.
  • That’s according to Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon.
  • Other experts say the traditional career ladder has been replaced by something less linear, like a “jungle gym.”

As of 2016, roughly 70% of Goldman Sachs employees were millennials. And according to Goldman CEO David Solomon, they’re “so, so talented” and “so, so motivated.”

Solomon said as much on an episode of The JJ Redick Podcast; host Redick plays for the Philadelphia 76ers. Solomon also shared the career advice that he gives most often to millennials.

“You have these goals, you have these ambitions, and it’s going to be hard, there are going to be bumps, there are going to ups and downs,” Solomon said. “But you don’t have to have all the answers right away, you don’t have to get to the finish line right away, you don’t have to know what’s next right away.”

Read more: Graduates who flock to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and big law in search of prestige might be in for a harsh wake-up call only a few years later

Solomon isn’t the only successful person to share this advice. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg popularized the concept of a career “jungle gym” to replace the traditional ladder. Instead of taking a predictable series of upward steps from graduation until retirement, today’s professionals are making lateral moves and unexpected jumps.

As Libby Leffler, vice president of membership at personal finance company SoFi (she worked with Sandberg at Google and at Facebook) previously told Business Insider: “Sometimes this means taking that role that might be the same level on a different team, where you can learn a totally new skill, or you can change roles. Then you can level up into something else where you can leverage the new skill you learned.”

Meanwhile, Business Insider’s Mark Abadi reported on the “career myth,” which, according to the psychology researcher Tania Luna and the Weight Watchers International executive Jordan Cohen, is “a delusional belief in the outdated idea of linear career progression.”

Luna and Cohen write in the Harvard Business Review that “every job you’ve held and every relationship you’ve forged is a kind of key that can unlock a future opportunity.”

Solomon didn’t exactly have an unpredictable career path. But it was in some ways unusual, in that he didn’t start his career at Goldman Sachs and was instead hired as a partner after rising through the ranks at Bear Stearns.

As for Solomon’s advice, he likes to tell ambitious millennials of their career path, “You don’t have to know where it’s all going to go. Just live it and try to enjoy it as much as you can.”