Find the best career for YOU after college
As I’ve been thinking back on how I got to where I am today (a CEO of a SWEEET company), I realized that “boy, I wish I knew all this stuff while I was in college“. So here I am, writing a post to help you, the college student (or recent grad) to avoid some of my missteps.
This is the first of a series of posts to help you kick butt in the real world…
Let’s get started with a bit about where I am today, and my happiness level with all this.
My name is Sieva Kozinsky. I’m the CEO and founder of StudySoup, a marketplace that empowers students to share study materials in order to help other students learn. We call it a Peer-to-Peer Learning Marketplace.
To date, we’ve helped over 100,000 students get help from their peers and we’ve paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to our notetakers.
Cool, right? I’m pretty happy with that…but it hasn’t been sunshines and butterflies all the time. And I don’t expect all sunshines and butterflies in the next chapter of this adventure.
1st: Set the right expectations
I firmly believe: Happiness is the gap between your expectations and reality.
Starting a company is hard. Getting an A+ in class is hard. Getting a dream job is hard. IF something isn’t hard to get in your life, then be weary…it may not be the best thing for you.
So I find myself wishing someone told me this: “Look it’s all going to be hard, and even when you are ‘happy’ it will be interjected with feelings of difficulty or uncertainty.”
This is particularly true for starting your own company. The highs of excitement and happiness can’t be beat, but they alternate daily with feelings of difficulty and sometimes even sadness.
…so if you’re feeling this now, know that you’re on the right track and SMILE!
2nd: Open more doors
When I was in college, everyone wanted me to have the solution to this question:
“What do you want to do when you graduate?”
So, like a good little boy, I would come up with a clear line to answer that question…something around being a doctor or vet (side note, I no longer want to be a doctor…but we can discuss that later).
Before you start telling people the answer to this question, be sure to actively explore the solutions out there. Don’t just go for the easy answer of what you know from an uncle/cousin or parent.
Search online and go to career services on campus to explore different industries. BUT most of all talk to people. I found it particularly helpful to talk with professors in the business department who had jobs in the real world before becoming professors (I knew that teaching wasn’t in my stars).
Advice: Write down a list of at least 50 people who you want to chat with. Set-up a phone or in-person informational interview. They will be delighted to spend 30 minutes chatting with you about their career.
You should ask them about their career path, what they love and hate about their current job and what they think you should try in your own career.
Since I started my company I’ve met with at least 1 CEO per week (I still do this now). It’s amazing the types of things I’ve learned through having lunch with these awesome individuals.
Here’s the kicker. Not only are you gathering information for yourself to make the right step in your life, but you’re also building a network of successful people who can then be great references if you find they do something that peaks your interest.
3rd: Take Risks
Don’t settle. Don’t do it! If you’re happy keep doing what you’re doing. BUT if you’re unhappy and you don’t see a clear path to happiness within the next 4 weeks then STOP and try something else.
People are scared. I was scared. BUT I wish someone told me how important it is to recognize a bad situation and to take a step out and try something new.
**Respond to this post with a risk that you took that changed your life for the better**
This can be scary. Maybe you’ve picked a major that you hate. Maybe you just started working at a job that you don’t like or your boss sucks.
In my case, my first company was doing horribly! I’m stubborn and was telling myself that I need to see things through which meant I went a year and half working on a business that I knew wasn’t going to work. That’s a lot of time, and my biggest regret to date.
I should have stepped out of my comfort zone, looked at new opportunities and pursued those. We did this eventually which is how we ended with the super cool company we have today…but it was a major leap of faith after a year and a half of hard work.
If you’re in a situation where you don’t think you’ll be happy, make the leap TODAY. Not in a year, or a couple months. That’s what most people will do. They’ll rationalize a reason to stay with the shitty job or major. BUT that’s time that you could use rebuilding and trying new things that WILL make you happy.
So take a risk and make the jump. If you’re reading this then you’re probably a smart go-getter and I trust that you will figure it out after you take that step in the right direction.
On a final note, I’d like to asses my current stage of happiness and satisfaction in life. I get to do what I love day to day by working with amazingly smart people to provide better education opportunities for students. This is AWESOME.
I also get paid to do this. BUT you should know that every day we face difficulties and challenges. Some are fun while others are stressful. Also, it took me and my co-founder three years of working on companies together to get to where we are today.
So that you can find your happy place in the fastest way possible:
a) Set the right expectations
b) Open doors
c) Take risks
And you’ll be on the path to success in no time…
In my next post I’ll share some concrete examples I’ve gotten from the amazing advisors in my life…and how it’s changed my life for the better. Stay Tuned!