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Are Your Parents to Blame? Advice for Students

Part 1 of 2

Do you struggle with the idea that you should be doing something else to make you happy or that people are pushing you to follow a path that won’t make you happy?  Why is that a struggle with you? If it was a simple question of “Do you want to be happy?”, then everyone would say “Yes!”. The problem comes with the willingness to power through all of the skepticism and bad advice from people in your life and possibly even family.

Nearly 40% of all college students exhibit some signs of depression. Much of this comes from the internal struggle of doing what is expected versus what they really want to do. College Students and young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s feel this conflict because of the way we were raised and current society expectations. Our parents were raised in a time where a college degree meant getting a good job and often a golden ticket to improve the family tree. That is not the case any longer. College is about equivalent to high school.  It is expected, not a differentiator.  Further more, once you graduate college you are told to grow up and get a job. Wasting the degree on your passions is something viewed down upon. We graduate and enter the workforce to only find a job that is not what we want and we feel ashamed to “waste” our degree on trying to be happy.  If this is you, then take my advice in this two part post.

First up is my advice for students.  Advice for finding what you love as a young professional will be part two on Wednesday.

Advice for Students:

Going to college is great! It is a great life experience and a perfect way to transition from a teen to adult. It is not necessary for every career including entrepreneurship, but definitely is worth the ride if you do it right.   The differentiator between a wasted four years and a life altering career path preparation is the courses you take.

Follow Your Passions. Follow what you are good at and enjoy when selecting courses and your major. Ask nearly anyone outside of a Doctor or Lawyer what their major was, and they will likely have focused on something completely different than what they are currently doing. With this in mind, you should feel comfortable that if your passions do not work out as a full time career, you will still have a piece of paper saying you graduated.

Be Real: Sounds counter from “Follow Your Passions”, but it is actually complimentary. You should follow what you enjoy, but think long term and take courses that will help you turn whatever you do into a successful business or be able to adapt the skill into a particular field successfully. If you take art because you love to paint, you may learn important techniques and how to create unbelievable art. But that is not enough to get you through a career of selling and promoting yourself. You should also take some marketing and business classes. If you are interested in non-profit work, you should also take public speaking courses to assist in feeling comfortable networking and being in the public eye so people trust you enough to support the cause.

INTERNSHIP!: This is in all caps for a reason!  The only definitive way to know if you like something or not is by trying it out.  Some colleges don’t require internships or even give assistance in finding one which is ridiculous!  Internships are the perfect way to determine if you like the career path. Work on getting an internship ASAP so you don’t spend four years getting a degree in something you don’t want to do.  Getting an internship doesn’t always happen through the traditional school sponsorship process.  I had four internships while in college and only one of them was found through the school.  I walked into two different businesses and told them I would do their marketing for them for next to nothing if they allowed me to shadow management and learn about the business.  I received college credit for two of the internships including one I created by starting a business.  I can honestly say that I learned more from the internships than from the courses themselves.

Students: Take Action Today

Research LinkedIn for people doing the job you want.  Look at their work experience and college majors.  Then put together a list of skills they have that makes them successful in the position.  Tailor your college experience to develop those skills through relevant classes and internships.  This is golden advice that will change your life!  Use it!

* For the record, I was fortunate enough to have very supportive parents which is why I know this stuff works! They looked at me like I was crazy countless times, but were always supportive of everything I did.  Thanks Mom & Dad!


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