What I Would Tell My 20-Year-Old Self…

I often think back to my college days and whether my choices may, or may not, have directed me to where I am today.  And the answer is a resounding YES.

The beginning of my college career was interesting.  I started off as pre-med / pre-pharmacy, and I KNEW I didn’t want to pursue a career in healthcare.  Why I did it, you ask?  Because my parents wanted me to.  Not that they wouldn’t have been happy with me having a career in business, but because in their generation, a career in healthcare meant stability and job security.  I struggled for nearly two years to tell them I didn’t want to pursue their dream.  All the while, I was still taking courses I had absolutely no interest in.

Once I broke the news to my parents, I realized I was on my own now.  They knew nothing about any industry outside of healthcare.  I was left to navigate the rest of my adult life… by myself.  Scary!  

Over the second half of my college years, I found a major that was broad and useful in many aspects of “business”.  I had two minors where I explored interests I had – like real estate, property management, and language skills.  In that time, I took internships in the hours I wasn’t working or in school.  Some of those internships were absolute disasters; I’d go home hating my life and dreading the next 2 hour day I had to work.  Some of those internships really piqued my interest, and I continued searching for positions in the same category.

In the end, my decisions absolutely led me to where I am today.  What I didn’t realize when I was 20, I realize now.  They say “hindsight is 20/20”, and that couldn’t be closer to the truth.

  • Things are going to be hard.  Sometimes, very very hard… and both physically and emotionally draining.  And when you think you’re going to give up.  Don’t.  You have the capability to push through any tough phase because that’s all it is – a phase.
  • Don’t study/pursue something just because someone else “wants” you to, or tells you to.  Your interests are your own.  You are a unique individual, and no one can tell you what you’d be good at.  Figure that out on your own.
  • Take a personal finance course.  Once you realize you don’t have the financial support of anyone else but yourself, you have to know how to best utilize your assets.
  • Take a social etiquette course, where ever you can find one.  You may think it’s ridiculous to learn how to fold your napkin when you walk away from a table, but you will likely have many business dinners in your future where this will come in handy.  
  • Take a course in interviewing / resume writing.  Believe it or not, interviewing is a skill that can be taught.  And just as you learned how to write essays in middle-school, it’s time you learn how to draw up a great resume.
  • Start networking.  And never stop networking.  You never know when the person you are talking to in your 20s, will be the next-big-thing’s CEO.  
  • If there is only one thing you take away, make it this.  This is a marathon, and not a sprint.  You are not going to accomplish what you want without a few bumps along the way.  But each speed bump is just a reminder to keep yourself motivated, and to keep pushing forward.
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