The other day, 20-year-old Andy said to me, “I just don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I worry that I’m not going to get a good job when I graduate.” In the past year, I have heard this concern so many times from students that I decided to write…
An open letter to college and high school students
Don’t worry when people tell you it will be hard to find a job because_________ [select from below]:
- The economy isn’t strong
- You don’t get top grades
- You don’t know what you want to do with your life
- You can’t/didn’t go to a “top-name” college
- You took time off before, during, or after college and waited tables, cashiered, traveled, or played in a band.
- All of the above.
What the doom-and-gloom folks don’t understand is that they have something as contagious as the H1N1 virus– anxiety. Like the flu, they are probably carriers without even realizing it. You need to innoculate yourself.
If you ever decide to join the world of business, one of the things you will learn is that fear spreads at the speed of light (you can probably learn this lesson in other places too). The good news is that you can build your immunity to fear. Thinking about your future life is a good place to start.
To resist fear, you need to know that good news is all around you, if you will just look. When it comes to fear about your future, begin building immunity by giving yourself:
5 reasons to believe you can get a great job
Some of your innate abilities probably aren’t being fully used in school but the more you get out in life and use them, the further you’ll go. A good test is this: are you doing things that interest you, excite you, cause you to lose track of time — get in flow? If not, try something that has even the slightest interest for you– just dip your toe in and see what you think. If that one doesn’t do it, try something else.
2. Big companies are not the best source of new jobs.
Companies with fewer than 10 people are. So when someone worries about layoffs at Fidelity or that Goldman Sachs isn’t recruiting on campus any more, smile. Know that your job could be at one of a million small companies — or even at one of these big ones. Know that you might not find your job on campus, but no worries — there’s one out there for you.
3. Thousands of people are getting new jobs every day — in this economy. You can too.4. This isn’t your father’s economy
You can’t see what’s ahead by looking behind and yet people often forget this simple fact. They look back 20 or 50 years and predict the future of good jobs based on what was good in the old days.
Remind the naysayers that cell phones, laptops, Google, iPods, and genomics weren’t even words your parents knew at your age, let alone billion-dollar industries.
Since the age of 30, I have not held a job or run a business in a field that existed when I finished college. The same is true for you. The jobs you will hold in 5, 10, or 20 years probably do not even exist today.
5. Many, many, many wildly successful people were not good students.
Take a look at the Top 30 Dyslexic Entrepreneurs for example. I can give you loads of others and if you start asking around, you’ll find them too. (If you’re a good student, don’t worry — you can be successful too!).
What to do INSTEAD of Worrying
Boost your immunity to bad news by giving your attention to all the good things around you and ahead of you:
- Stop reading or watching traditional news and replace it with good news.
- Think of something you did well in a summer job, a club, or an activity and tell yourself 3 reasons that could happen for you again.
- Write a positive future story. Pretend you’re 30 years old and describe why the past 10 years have been so wonderful– how everything you’ve wanted has happened.
Here’s to your fantastic future! Let me know how it goes.
Duvivier, C. (2007). Appreciating Beauty in The Bottom 80™. Philadelphia, PA: Capstone Study. University of Pennsylvania.
Csiksentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.. New York: Harper Perennial.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004). Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning. Penguin.
King, L. A. (2001). The Health Benefits of Writing about Life Goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27. 798-807.
King, L. A. (2009). Podcast in series, A Better You, by Caroline Miller.
Influenza en México (Virus mask) courtesy of ALTO CONTRASTE Edgar AVG.
Balloon Fiesta courtesy of agjimenez
Soil metagenomics courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory