Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Career Advice I've Gotten

University of Michigan Law Library
A few days ago, I ran into an old friend who shared with me her two cents for undergrads starting (or hoping to start) a career in law. However, her words proved to be a statement (in my mind) towards starting any career. Here's what she told me:

1) Compete with yourself (only). 
Sometimes in college, we are surrounded by overachievers (or underachievers, for that matter) and lose a grip of ourselves among all of the competition (or lack thereof). Her advice was to work hard, but compete with yourself, instead of anyone else. Don't stress yourself out worrying about what other people are working on, and don't take it easy when you know you should be focused. Solid advice, and something most of us know (but often forget).

2) Do study what you love. 
I'll admit, over the past year, I have been guilty of thinking: "Which major would sound the smartest/look the best on my résumé?" I know I'm not the only one who has had this thought, because it's natural to be judgmental of ourselves in the light of others. This piece of advice was unique because it answered why we should do this, from the eyes of a job recruiter/interviewer. We should follow our passions specifically because we should have an urge to always talk about what we're doing. We should be excited about everything. What sets you apart from other people interviewing is the spark in your eyes that invites open conversation, or that fascinating thing you learned that changed your life.

3) Do try new things.
It doesn't have to be something related to your area of study, or even academic at all. She urged me to join something random and fun, like a culinary club (if you like food - but who doesn't?), a cultural team... even ballroom dancing! Preferably something through which you can meet awesome people or travel. Treat your life like a story, and be the best story you can be. Despite whatever career path you are pursuing, knowing people - and more importantly having them retain their interest in you - is key towards opening doors to opportunity. When interviewing, creating relationships, or networking with new people, be the best story you can possibly be.

In college, it's normal to change majors or ponder career paths before settling your heart on something, and all of this is important for self-discovery/betterment. I took these three points to heart, not only as advice on how to look like a good applicant in the eyes of a recruiter/interviewer, but also advice on how to do the best for myself by discovering the best about myself, each and every day.

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