Nobody in their right mind would tell a young person starting out in their career today “Just get in with a good company, and you’ll be set for the rest of your career.” Things haven’t worked that way for ages.
Nowadays you can’t run a career by getting a steady job with a great company and staying there for decades. You’d be putting yourself and your career at great risk if you tried. Staying in one job (or even one organization) for many years used to be a real badge of honor, but today it’s more likely to be a liability.
The longer you stay in one environment, the more slowly your trying-new-things muscles grow relative to other people. The way to be marketable and competent in running your own career these days is to constantly learn new skills in new settings. That’s why we all need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, whether we plan to work for ourselves or not.
What does it mean to develop an entrepreneurial mindset? It means that you follow your own career plan, versus letting your employer decide where your career will go (or leaving it up to chance). It means having your own goals, totally separate from your employer’s goals for you. It means knowing what problems you solve and how much those problems cost organizations who could hire you.
It means looking at your delivery of services to organizations in a broader way. People who can only work a full-time job with benefits have a massive disadvantage in the talent market relative to people who can take work in other forms.
The first and most important step in developing an entrepreneurial mindset is to see yourself as a consultant. You solve certain fairly specific problems for individuals or companies that experience certain kinds of trouble. You have to know a lot about that trouble, and a lot about the solutions! Then you can market yourself as a consultant.
Even if you love your full-time job I hope you will get a business card and take a consulting project or two after hours. If your company has a no-moonlighting policy that prohibits you from consulting on your own time, that’s a good reason to explore the job market right there.