My colleague Tricia Stone and her co-founder Kurt Wolfgang have started up a business geared to “connect education with the rest of life, starting in high school, and continuing throughout college.”
It’s a terrific and needed idea, and they’re going to be outstanding at this work. Here’s their August newsletter which has lessons for all of us:
“At Launch, this summer has been one filled with great conversations.
They’re the kind that start simply, with a “so tell me about what you do,” or maybe “what were you interested in when you were in high school?” But they quickly develop into something much more challenging, and more worthwhile. Terms likepurpose, meaning, and fit come up. Clear and logical paths are disrupted by serendipity, resulting in trajectories that can only be mapped looking backwards.
We’ve brought engaged adults together with curious students, and guided them through these conversations. The message can be challenging to understand: you can’t know exactly where you’re going, but you can surely prepare for it.
How can students do that, you ask? That’s a great question. We suggest starting with the following:
1. Follow your enthusiasm (and that of others).
Pay attention to what inspires you, and do more of it. Always watch for people who are excited about what they do, whether that’s career-based or otherwise. Surround yourself with them. Introduce yourself to people you look up to, and make your interests known.
2. Be unapologetically curious.
When something sparks your interest, start digging in. Who is involved and why? What do they do? Why does something pique your curiosity? How could you learn more or get involved? Can you get school credit for this? Tell other people what you’re interested in, because unexpected connections happen often. And take good notes along the way. Spend the time to ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do.
3. Do high quality work.
This sounds simple because it is simple. Take pride in the work you do, whether that is in school or not. Think about the people you respect and what they produce or the services they provide. Now think about the quality of those products or services. It’s amazing how many doors appear–and then open–when you do things well.
4. Ground yourself in reality.
One of the most common mistakes students make is to base decisions on impressions, not data. This ties in with #2: ask people about their experiences, do research, and bounce ideas off of people who have more knowledge about an area than you. Find out what kind of lifestyle a certain salary will get you, whether that’s in New York or in Waco. The more of this you do while in school, the easier it is to make good decisions in “the real world.”
5. Make moves.
We’re not sure who first said “you can’t steer a parked car,” but we’d like to say thanks. It’s often very hard to make decisions about where you’re going until you get some experience. Whether volunteering, working, or just socializing with inspiring people, the key here is to get out and get involved.
The best part about all these conversations is that they’re still going on. We welcome your continued input and perspective, and look forward to talking soon.
Kurt and Tricia
Reprinted by permission. Contact information about Launch can be found here.