I am privileged to be in a place of somewhat leadership where the new generation looks to me for help. I enjoy times where I get to share what my experiences were in getting to this place in life. In college I was eager to learn, eager to grow, and very focused on working for an NBA team. If I have any advice for kids who are REALLY trying to make it into positions that only few can obtain, my advice is to get a head start on everyone and connect with someone who has done it before. (In other words expect to do much more than everyone else). In life some things are very black and white. I was afforded the opportunity to meet a former alumni that happened to work for the Indiana Pacers my Freshman year. This was my opportunity to connect with someone who had done it". Typically people wait until their junior year in college to reach out for internships, job opportunities, or even ask "Hey what can I start doing RIGHT NOW in order to get a job when I graduate". That's exactly what I did, my freshman year. I got a head start and I connected immediately. I reached out each semester whether it was to ask a question, see if there was a way that I could help, or simply to let him know I was still interested. All of this was an attempt to figure things out for myself but what I realized later is this showed employers that I was serious, dedicated, and most important willing to learn.
I took an internship every semester of college in effort to show my willingness to learn, work, and more importantly I knew the more I learned from working...the more I would be prepared for working. I like to think that these steps were the exact reason that I batted 100% when it came to applying for jobs when I graduated from college. When spring semester rolled around and there were only a few months left before time to walk across that stage. I was as nervous as everyone else, not because I didn't have options like most of my peers. I was because I was still waiting for that one call from the NBA. Luckily on graduation day I was privileged enough to be stress-free knowing that I had my spot on the roster with the Indiana Pacers. Not on the bench of course but in cubical #6 of the marketing department. These traits have been crucial to my success thus far and I promise myself that I will carry them with me for the rest of my life.
If you are fresh in college or trying to start over in your career I want to give you some advice. Take this as encouragement that it's not too late to chart your path. It's not too late to earn your jersey.
#1 Connect with people to gain and give value not just to say that you are connected. I've had many instances where students try to connect with me to get help, but never ask questions and I can't guide them because they don't know what they don't what they need.
#2 Step one leads perfectly into this step. Figure out what you want to do! And if you don't know what to do be honest and say that you are trying to figure it out and explore to see what's best for you. If you pretend that you are good at everything or that you are interested in everything that will be looked at as a weakness once exposed because you lack focus and specific skill sets. Settle for becoming the jack of all trades. Not only will this help you learn more about different roles, but also later down the road you will have more credibility in the field or with the job.
#3 Figure out what you are good at, learn it, and figure out how you can offer it to help others in every environment you walk into. If you don't have any skills whether you are trying to be an intern or new hire you don't have a place in any company, no matter how good your work ethic is. There's something we can all bring to the table.
"Climb the Mountain, not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world."
- David McCullough Jr.