Advice to a Younger Me

I had lunch with a friend’s son recently. Like most recent college graduates, he is actively searching for his first real job.

Since we both have degrees in Economics, he was looking for advice. Unlike accounting majors, jobs for econ majors don’t stick out. There are no “Staff Economists” or “Junior Economic Analyst I” job titles, unless you want to work for the Federal Reserve. But there are jobs out there for people with solid skills in statistics and math.

During the course of our conversation, I could almost hear myself talking to the younger me with the lessons many of us learn during our careers.

Develop Your Network Now

You have a mafia. It’s your alumni association. They can help you with introductions and career advice simply because you share a common bond.

If you pledged Greek, you have another mafia that can help.

Cultivate those connections. Use them and then give back. That is how it works.

Have a Long-Term Goal and a Plan to Get There

You have a passion. It may not be what you will do in your first post-college job, but you have one.

My ideal job would be in Humanitarian Relief, working to help those in crisis caused by man or nature. What skills do I need? How can I get there?

Develop your passion. Nurture it. Learn what it takes to get there, pick up the skills necessary to get there, and work towards that goal.

Consider the Quality of Life You Want to Have

How are you spending time with the people who will cry at your funeral?

If you want to run a marathon before you are 30, take steps now. If you want to have a family and live on a ranch in Montana, take steps now. If you want to teach, study now.

Identify Your Weaknesses and Improve Them

In the next decade, people who will do best in the workforce will have two skills.

They will be good in statistical analysis, and they will know how to write code.

My weakness today is a lack of coding skills. I learned BASIC, Pascal, FORTRAN and C++. Not much use for those today (except C++), so I am learning Python.

What skills will you need to have the career you want?

Build Your Personal Board of Directors

You are the CEO of your own business: the business of your career. Like a Corporate Board of Directors, Personal Board brings diverse perspectives and skills to the table. Here is my essay on how to Building a Personal Board of Directors.

I think the advice holds up. What would you tell the younger you?

Crossposted at LinkedIn.

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