It doesn’t matter whether you are a high school junior applying to college today, thinking about potential career paths, or a college senior dreading graduation day and a grueling job. It is important to continue evolving and connecting!
Back in February, at MTV’s Pioneers Speakers Series, Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, spoke about the importance of evolving – changing over time and continuing to grow as a person. Hoffman’s Internet phenomenon, LinkedIn, is a networking site that links people to each other professionally instead of socially (cough cough, Facebook). He advises students to build their skills and networks one step at a time to prepare for the future. Think like an entrepreneur and invest in yourself.
So, what does this mean for you?
Well, if you are still in high school and applying to schools, focus on building skills. Think about majors that might be beneficial to a variety of professions. Certainly study something you are passionate about, but don’t let it limit you to a narrow job field. Involve yourself in extra-curricular activities that are different from your major. You’ll meet brand new types of people that will expand your network and you’ll learn to do new things that may come in handy – or at the very least become excellent jumping off points – for your future.
If you’re a college senior with serious senioritis, schoolwork is definitely getting on your nerves. Lucky for you, this is a terrific time to get out your networking chops and start socializing! Focus on making connections with other students – both with your same interests and with completely different areas of expertise. Even if these connections don’t lead directly to a stellar opportunity right off the bat, they might open a door that leads to another door that leads to the right door for you. Focus on enhancing the connections you’ve already made. If you’ve done an internship in the past, reconnect with that company or an employee you remember well. Scroll through contacts or online friends to see who might be able to offer insight into your job search. Hoffman says that even though you are almost finished with school, “You are not a finished product.” Don’t be afraid to keep growing even after graduation.
In his new book, The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career, Hoffman insists that if you approach your career like an entrepreneur and take the bull by the horns, you’ll have much greater success than hoping the right job finds you. The beauty of Hoffman’s sentiments is that the power lies within you to build your own career path. It can start when you apply to college, while you attend college, or after graduation. The key is: don’t stop evolving or “you start dying.”