I started my university degree as I hit the job market, studying a generic IT degree alongside a generic IT career. I had it pretty lucky; I was fortunate to already have a job in my field, and finishing my degree simply wasn’t a priority.
Roll forward 11 years, I finally completed my degree. And I realised as a budding entrepreneur that I DID IT ALL WRONG. I am the first to admit that my post university regret has been fueled by the “jealousy” of other successful students, and their overly successful ventures — why didn’t I go out of my way to connect with my peers, learn more and open my mind?? I could have been “them”! Yep.
That doesn’t have to mean I’m done for…
”today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
1. Get involved, get social, network!
For the students: Join those study groups. Get social. Network. Your network is your key to your success — surround yourself with people from many different facets, not just tech. You never know who you might need to contact in 5 or 10 years time to ask for a favor — that business student who offered a point of view over lunch may be the guy you need to help build your startup!
For the regretters: Join those meetup groups. User groups are where you’ll meet other like minded people and expand your knowledge base. LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with other professionals, and it’s easy to connect with friends, colleagues, and people you think would be useful to your network. It takes just a few moments to write a message along the lines “hey, I’d love to connect with you and chat with you about some ideas I have had about xyz”. To steal an idea from the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” story, seek out and surround yourself by successful people; or people who supplement your professional network.
2. Absorb EVERYTHING you can
For the students: Drift around campus. Sit in on a few random classes which are not in your field. Check what subjects/units your institution offers outside your field of study, and if you have a spare hour every day/week, drop in on a class. You’ll expand your knowledge and be better equipped to discuss different topics when they come up (and they WILL come up).
For the regretters: Focus on continuous improvement and learning — read books, take courses (Is an MBA worth it?), attend training conferences and usergroups. Expand your knowledge through your daily work duties by asking your supervisor/manager to show you how they do their job, or reaching out to other people within your organisation to gain a perspective of their world.
3. Be open minded
Listen. Hear other’s points of view. It’s surprising what you’ll learn (and you don’t have to agree with people). It will also help you develop a sense of perspective for different talking points.
To quote @marseelee:
It is so liberating to look at the world through an open mind. It does not necessarily mean we will change our beliefs, but it gives us the options to do so. Open your mind to the world around you, build new ideas and shed old ones or add to them…
What are you waiting for? Go sit next to that person eating lunch by themself and strike up a conversation!
Now you’ve finished your degree; how many people are still in your network? How often do you wish you had met more of the right people? If you are satisfied with your network, with your perspective, with your knowledge, perhaps you’ve succeeded…But if you have regrets, be critical of yourself. Don’t compare yourself to the successful people — focus on you, and what you’re going to do. Focus on how you’re going to make up for your perceived shortcomings in these areas and take action. You may not have done all you could at university to build a successful network; but now is better time than ever to start!!