Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with 20-25 college age boys about careers. The conversation was based on my own education and career path and what I have learned along the way. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did think there were a few things worth sharing though.
What I learned:
- Most college age students have no idea what they want to do as a career. About 50% of the students I spoke with, when asked, had no clue what they wanted to be when they grew up. I’m not sure what to make of this, or how to fix it, but I don’t believe it is necessarily a bad thing. I think many students today realize that they may not want to take a traditional path to a traditional career. The key is figuring out how to take a nontraditional path and what that career, potentially non-traditional, is.
- Those who do know what they want to do for a career do not know what it takes to get there. Undergraduate and graduate education is still a mystery to most college students. There is definitely a lack of belief that most undergrad degrees will provide you with much more than a good opportunity to go to graduate school. That is sad. The students who felt they were getting the most out of their education were those who intended to go to graduate school. This does not say much for our post-secondary education system.
What I shared:
- Go for what you are passionate about. Success comes from passion, not from trying to pick the perfect field/job. We live in an amazing era that has allowed people to create great companies from nothing and follow their passion instead of just getting a job. I encouraged the boys to figure out what they are passionate about and then turn that into a career.
- If you are going to school make sure you know what the terminal degree is. As Stephen Covey would put it, “Begin with the end in mind”. Know what the last piece of formal education you will need for your career to never hit a ceiling. I shared my own experience of both my wife and I finishing our graduate degrees while working full time and having multiple kids. As hard as it was, it only gets harder later. You never want to reach a point in your career where you cannot advance because you do not have enough education. Know what you need at the outset, create a path and execute.
The session lasted about an hour and was very conversational. It was a great experience and I hope to do it again soon. The best part was that by the end of the session I had about 5 new LinkedIn requests.