Stop stressing out about life after College

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Stop stressing out about life after College

I was asked to speak to undergraduate students about how to get a great career in tech. Below are some highlights from what I shared with them.

I started by sharing a story about how passion augmented with extra-hard work can help a person build an empire. The point of the story was that if you want to stand out, you must not do the standard. You must not do what everyone else is doing.

To stand out, you must not do the standard

I went on to encourage them to find their passion, develop a process and create their own footsteps. I stressed the need of finding something they’re good at and trusting their process (trust ya process).

I shared how accepting one opportunity opened many doors for me and the challenges I faced before accepting the opportunity. The lesson from the story was not to encourage them to be like me or break rules. I wanted to remind them that it is worthwhile to do what they need to do to accelerate their career even if it means annoying some people or breaking some rules. I added a caveat: when breaking rules or annoying people, it is very important to keep in mind that people that set and enforce the rules are humans and that if you are honest, open and more importantly nice about the way you approach your rule breaking, they will understand and support you if you get into trouble.

Do to accelerate your career even if it means annoying some people or breaking some rules

Two lessons from stories about success

  1. To stand out, we must not do the standard.
  2. Don’t be scared to go against the norm to move your career forward.

The last story I shared was about a young man that traveled to the US and won many scholarships in the US but lost his student status because he got distracted and decided to quit school. The lesson from that story was that we should understand our situation, set priorities and goals based on our situation and then stick to completing the goals that we set.

Just like we have to get our hands dirty to enjoy chicken wings, we also need to get our hands dirty to be successful

I shared an Igbo language proverb that I really like. It is Aka aja aja n’ebute ọnụ mmanụ mmanụ and it is translated “Soiled hands brings forth oily mouth” but means that Hard work precedes success and fun. I explained that just like we have to get our hands dirty to enjoy chicken wings, we also need to get our hands dirty to be successful. I then shared what success means to me. For me, deep down, success is the result of redoing things that I’ve previously failed at.

Practical Tips and Tricks for a STEM Career

  1. Join online communities of people in your major (/r/cscareerquestions for Computer Science)
  2. Get a mentor
  3. Expect and prepare for failure

If I were to start all over again and give myself advice:

I will ignore generic resume templates that are everywhere. I will instead use google to find online communities of people in my field. Most fields have those online forums for career advice and things like that. From this forum, I will get a good resume template and tailor my resume to meet that standard. Remember, think international! Don’t just think Saskatchewan or Canada. What this does is that it sets you apart even if you decide to apply for jobs in Saskatchewan. As an example, my resume is one page because that is the standard for top tech companies. This has well for me as you might imagine. The truth, however, is that it might not work for you so look online for what works for your specific major.

Mentorship is like being in a relationship. It should be mutual and symbiotic.

Next, I will get a mentor again: be curious, ask questions and be nice. I believe that mentorship is like being in a relationship. It should be mutual and symbiotic. So find someone that you can give something back to or someone that will find satisfaction from knowing that they are mentoring you.

So the third thing I will do if I was starting over again is that I will expect and prepare for rejections. Think of rejections as a learning opportunity and delete the “we decided to move forward with a different candidate” emails as soon as you get them. Then simply apply for more jobs with your killer resume.

True happiness does not come from our career accomplishments but from the people that love us and will be there for us when we can’t be there for ourselves

I concluded with something that I am really passionate about: A reminder to enjoy life. This is because I believe that true happiness does not come from our career accomplishments but from the people that love us and will be there for us when we can’t be there for ourselves. I urged them to put an effort to build relationships and spend time with people who truly care about.

If you do not do the standard, do more than what’s required, go against the norm, be a misfit, annoy some people to propel your career and build meaningful relations, you will be closer to success than most people in the population.

Key points

  1. To stand out, we must not do the standard.
  2. Don’t be scared to go against the norm to move your career forward.
  3. Build meaningful relations with mentors and people you love

PS:

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