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Career advice to college students Career advice to college students
by Joseph Gatt
2020-08-08 08:37:44
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Busting a few career-related tips you'll hear a lot on college campuses.

Myth 1: Start you own business!

Look buddy. Your college is worried about the college's reputation. So rather than have too many college graduates looking for jobs and not finding jobs (bad for the college reputation) your college is going to try hard to convince and push as many students as possible to start a business straight out of college, or even better, drop out to start a business.

stud01_400Your college is going to use stereotypes like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as examples, and make it sound like you're next in line for that level of fame.

My advice: only start a business if it feels right. That is, don't give in to college peer-pressure to start a business.

Most businesses start off as college kids providing a service for free for several months (or years) and those they provide the service for are satisfied. That's when the college students will start charging for the service.

Myth 2: Start your own startup!

The world needs startups. Some services need a lot of investment yet are desperately needed by society.

Example: cyber security. Cyber security is an important service, a spinoff from all the internet and technology we use, yet, there are few cyber security firms, and cyber security firms are in demand. More importantly, the skills and talent needed to work for cyber security firms is scarce, yet the threats are real and constant.

BUT. Don't use the word “startup” interchangeably with “company” or “business.” Some guys and girls like the companies they start to be fancy and trendy and call their companies “startups.”

IF you are producing biodegradable plates and cups, that's not a startup, that's a factory!

Myth 3: You shouldn’t work during your college years. College is about learning.

I'm all for college students getting any job they can get, as long as the job does not interfere with their studies.

Don't get a job in college if:

-You have trouble with studies and need lots of time to study (but make sure you're really studying and not shirking).

-If you get a job but the job is emotionally draining you (an abusive boss, abusive colleagues, ridiculous work environment).

-If the job you get affects your personal life in any way (pay way too low, long commute, job demands physical work that pumps out all your energy).

But if it's a “normal” job, go for it!

Myth number 4: Big companies are better than small companies (or small companies are better than big companies).

Before I get a job, I'd look at two things: what's my mission, and who am I going to work with.

-If the job does not provide you with a mission statement, I'd say don't take the job. Without a mission statement, they are going to use you like a “mop-head” and they are going to use you like we use a mop to clean the floor.

-If the job provides an unrealistic mission statement or job description, don't take the job.

-If the guys you're going to work with are “weird” then don't take the job. By weird I mean if you detect one form of autism or the other, or they talk strange or act strange, don't take the job.

Other than that, if you have a good mission statement and work with cool people, big business or small business doesn't make a hell of a difference. Some guys go for big business and go crazy; other guys thrive in small business. And if small business is ambitious and realistic, chances are it could grow into a bigger business.

Myth number 5: set clear, SMART goals in life

I say that's a myth because trends change all the time and social and economic realities change all the time.

If in 2005 you set a lifelong goal to make it big in real estate, by 2008 you were probably taking stock of that lifelong dream.

If in 2011 you set a lifelong dream of working in the oil and gas business, by 2015 or by 2020, you're probably taking stock of that dream.

Let's just say that your goals have to be flexible. You need to keep in mind that things change, and that those changes can affect you.

Myth number 6 (final myth): the job market is bad, I can't get a job, it's impossible

If you spend your days tweeting, instagraming and facebooking, I bet you'll have trouble finding a job.

But if, as a college student, you go out and meet people, gain a few skills, and read a few books, you'll have a way easier time finding a job.

So here's advice you'll thank me for:

-Join a few associations on campus (I joined a TV club and got to interview former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius!). In sum, when you join associations, you get to meet quite a few people, from all sorts of trades.

-Visit conferences, seminars, symposiums, forums, movie screenings (sometimes featuring the director as a guest), book clubs and book readings etc.

-You'll quickly notice that it's the same 100 people or so on campus who go to most of those events and associations. And those 100 people tend to get jobs rather easily as they are well connected.

-Read the newspapers every morning, every day of the year. I was 21 and invited to a dinner in Paris featuring a famous actor/TV producer. The guy didn't notice me for the entire dinner, but towards the end, as we started discussing the news and I had lots of stuff to chip in, the actor/producer was very impressed, and said he'd “keep an eye on me.”

-Read a few books, take a few courses, expand your knowledge (you never know when this will come in handy).

-If associations or conferences or groups ask for help, get out and help them! Getting work done for associations is a great way to bond with members.

-Finally, only get an internship or a part-time job if you're actually making money and it's helping you with your career. If it's an unpaid internship that involves sitting at a desk and surfing the web, I know it could look good on a resume, but you will pick up the bad habit of expecting any job to be about sitting down and surfing the web.

-What about social media? There's this theory I have that those guys who have a lot of real good friends in real life tend to be ghosts on social media. You know those cool guys and girls, who get along with everyone, who get invited everywhere, who everyone wants to spend time with... they're not on social media!


     
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