Originally Published on Student Hustle
“In real life — as opposed to blogging — one of my least favorite things to do is give career planning advice. Most people who say they want career planning advice aren’t actually looking for advice — they just want validation of the path they have already chosen. Because of that, giving someone career planning advice is one of the surest ways to end up feeling like an a**hole” — Marc Andressen
That said, helping others understand and achieve their goals is a valuable opportunity.
And, because this is a resource I wish I had a few years ago (when I was beginning to ask more questions about what I wanted to do with my life), I am putting together some docs, links, and tidbits of actionable tools you can use to “Get What You Want Professionally”, much faster than I have.
This is just part 1 of the guide. Be sure to subscribe to my personal newsletterto get weekly thoughts on what to work on next. Thousands of people read it every week!
For some context, my name is Jordan Gonen (20 years old). I am passionate about making things better — lately working at Uber, Scaphold (YC W17), and on some other projects. I also like to write daily.
This resource is personal opinion. My bias is a product of my experiences and there are likely valid counterpoints and strategies that disprove much of what I am saying. Take everything as you wish and with a grain of salt. Challenge my ideas. Nothing is prescriptive or magic. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise, they are salespeople.
Finally, and hoping you do not glaze over this part, the assumption I am making by you reading this resource is that you are interested in some sort of “career acceleration.” I do not believe that this path is right for everyone. There are many valid, more logical, and more attractive paths outside of this one that can do a better job of helping you achieve your personal goals.
None of this is guaranteed to work. Just has worked for me and I am not blind to the idea that I have had significant luck and privilege to get where I am today.
Generically (and a bit naively) speaking, I believe there are two parts to getting anything you want in life:
In unpacking this simplified model, you’ll find that most things we spend our time on are our to satiate our ego, distracting ourselves from (the original goal of) getting what we want. We get validation from social proof, like our friends telling us “good job,” or from improper sources like our Professors telling us they like our ideas (when in reality it does not really matter).
Practically speaking, distractions are both inevitable and a good thing. They are fun! They help you learn new things. They prevent groupthink. They help you empathize with those outside of your goal. But, be real with yourself, when you fail to get what you want…think back to why? Most of the time, at least when internalizing with this approach, you can put the blame on your own actions. Owning your shortcomings will help you control them.
Though I think this sort of deep thinking and asking yourself the right questions is extremely valuable long term, here are some more actionable tips that you can apply directly to your life:
I break this guide into two parts:
Please share with friends on LinkedIn and Facebook if you find valuable. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need help with anything :)
In a world moving so quickly, I find it near impossible to long term career plan. Some people will advise you follow a certain track (i.e consulting to business school to startup to venture capital). I find that most tracks are too static, and take away your flexibility and freedom. And to me, they are not as fun; I feel like you miss out on awesome and unique opportunities when your life is already planned out on some excel sheet.
Rather, I choose to optimize for the next 6 months. I do think long term goals are good, but building a system that you can apply to your life in the short term will bring you results much more quickly.
For me…I am looking for opportunities that align with 3 characteristics:
You should have your own system that best aligns with your own passions and skills. Systems are fluid and evolve with your preferences and skills. Think of them as a framework for your decision making.
Now, in the short term, I basically build experiments and work on things that line up with my “system” I have in place.
Projects, experiments, tests, internships — whatever you want to call them — I think they can be really valuable, not only because you get to learn from others, but also, and perhaps more importantly, you get to learn more about yourself. What you are good at and what do you need to work on?
Rather than commit yourself to a summer long internship where you get to see if you like being a software engineer or social media marketer, why not start helping a company, today?
What is stopping you from building a side project with a few friends where you manage the project design? Or what if you think you like email marketing, so you start a newsletter?
We go through school for years and years with all of these assumptions in our heads.
We major in applied math because we think we like data science. We major in psychology/marketing since we think we may like marketing.
Why not test these assumptions? And, why not wait well before our “big summer internship” to see if we actually do? The cool part: imagine you actually do like it…then you can start making $$$ during the school year building side projects or working for companies remotely. And if you really hate what you are doing…well, then you are welcome. You just “accelerated” past 3 months of doing something you hate.
Identifying exactly how you can test the assumption you have in your head can be challenging, especially with little to no “professional experience.” This is where you will have to get creative. I listed off a few ideas above, but feel free to email me ( email@example.com and we can chat and brainstorm) — anyone can do it.
Of all the generic advice I’ve received in my life, “go meet lots of people” is perhaps the most common (and useless).
“Meeting lots of people,” for those who have tried, feels a lot like trying to make new friends in middle school.
Everyone already has their own friends.
It is scary.
And where do you even start?
As with most advice, I’d like to give two caveats:– Deep connections are far more valuable than a bunch of weak ones.
– Talking to a ton of people could end up being a distraction. So try and be purposeful with what you do and always loop back to your original goal.
Originally published at Student Hustle
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