Three things I wished I’d have when graduating from high school
1. Approach the field you want to pursue with a wide lens
When I was in school and it was time to choose the university degree we would pursue, my peers and I would often choose engineering if we were good in maths and physics, medicine if biology and chemistry were our thing or law if one liked social studies and philosophy classes. Often we would choose our field based on the topics we were good at in school.
Before deciding what to study I was asked to interview people in the fields I wanted to pursue and see if the type of work they did was something I felt I wanted to do on a daily basis. I was also asked to approach people on fields that I had not thought of studying, to see if that type of work was equally or more appealing.
This exercise opened an array of possibilities. I was no longer concerned if I was good in maths or physics, I was looking at what field to pursue with a wider lens. Having a broader objective gave me the courage to attempt subjects that I was not necessarily the best at because the end result would be doing something I really enjoyed.
2. “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to compositions as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times” ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
When I was in school I thought that the best trait one could have was a natural talent at something – like being really good in music, singing or maths. But now that I am a mother I pray for one trait to install on my children and that is persistency. I am now convinced that it is not about how talented you are at something – it is about how hard your work to pursue what you want. The hard work will eventually pay off.
This has been an extensively studied area across many fields. If you look at any great artist, scientist, politician, businessman they will often agree that there are many keys to be good at what you do but a common component always seems to be hard work – more so than talent.
Talent is something you are born with but hard work and persistence are in your control.
The idea that your life and what you do with it is in your hands it’s pretty neat to me.
3. A number or a result does not define who you are
When I was in high school I felt the pressure of getting high marks in my state exams as that seemed crucial to enter a good university, when I was in university having a high GPA seemed essential to get a good job. However, although those numbers are important, they do not define who you are and will not guarantee the spot in your desired university or your dream job.
An HR partner once revealed to me that she never looked at the GPA numbers – as most of the times the numbers were pretty similar amongst all candidates (in other words: employers and admission teams give for granted that you have studied). The things that would called her attention were the life experiences that differentiated a candidate from another. Like participating in Design Ventura, being part of a swimming team, or being involved in the student council will account for better interview stories or essay topics than having a 4.0 GPA. So my recommendation would be: cultivate your passions, expand your experiences and try new things.
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