Quick hitting thought here in reaction to this article. It pays off in more ways than one to have your (hotshot) career early – it simply gives you more options in life. You accumulate more wealth and allow more time for compound interest to work. You can rise up high enough to become indispensable to your company before going on maternity leave. There’s the possibility of continuing to climb the ranks vs shifting gears to something less strenuous, and when you do with a strong CV you’ll be more competitive.
Let’s then count the cons of having fun early and then trying to spin that experience into getting a good job later. Aside from the negative of the above perks, we run into ageism, which is the defining feature of the article. Like it or not, the expectation from most companies is to get in young and then move up or out. It’s unusual for them to hire hire older (read: above 30) works at entry level positions. You’re kind of expected to be mid-career at that point and to apply for director level jobs, which you usually get headhunted for or apply for as part of a lateral move to a different company in the same industry. It’s nigh impossible to graduate and shift careers in one’s 30s and expect to get hired at that level.
That’s not to say it can’t be done. There are stories of people like Elizabeth Pisani and Tai Ming Cheung who have managed to get into a related career from their original one relatively late in life. However, that’s definitely not the norm. Don’t count on being them unless you have exquisite dedication and talent.