On a long flight from the States to back home, my extrovert personality often leads me to strike up a conversation with my fellow travelers. I had the opportunity to talk to a parent of a teenager and while she did not accompany, as any Indian parent would, we ended up talking about her. After learning about my entrepreneurial journey the mother confided in me about the rough patch the kid was going through as she didn't land her dream college. She explained that she is at a crucial crossroads of her life where one decision will dictate her entire life and its quality.
This stands true for most well intentioned but often misinformed Indian parents, where they present marksheets of 10th & 12th grade and getting into the right colleges as life milestones. The undue pressure to excel in an educational system that doesn't award consistency, creates a lifelong mindset of ‘crash & burn’ attitude towards education and eventually their profession. Here are some ways to ‘know better’ and ‘do better’ so that when life throws lemons at you, learn how to make a profitable business of making lemonade.
- Eat, Sleep, Upskill, Repeat - Taking a gap year may seem like a drastic step in an Indian household but it is always okay to take your time to figure out next steps. Remember, you are the driver of your life and while it is okay to take different directions than what you thought of, it's not okay to sleep on the wheel. Keep yourself abreast with dynamic shifts of the industry, learn new courses to figure out what path suits you best and always stay curious!
- If not dream college, chase your dream job - Figure out what qualifications does your dream job require and work backwards to build your profile for it. Speak to headhunters, mail the employees and assess what it takes to make it there. Sometimes just showing up at the right places with the right skillset works wonders and can propel you into a whole new direction in life.
- Experience, Experience and Experience - Let’s be honest, sometimes you may have the perfect resume but no experience to strengthen your educational background. We often dive straight to higher education after graduation without any actual work experience. To make the best of college experience, one should try to intern/ work at any of their preferred professions to make an informed decision about investing in education for the particular field.
- Turn to the next page - Explore the other options of the next best college, don’t get stuck on one page of your life’s chapter just because it is too hard to get through. In the long run it won’t matter because eventually you will be recognised for the results you bring and not the sum total of your past achievements.
- Resume your A-game with a good Résumé - A good resume is an accurate reflection of your journey, talent and potential. Hone the skill of perfecting it like a craftsman would in creating sculpture, taking time to perfect the nooks and crannies of each part and envisioning his masterpiece with patience. Remember, a hiring manager goes through hundreds of it in a day, make sure yours stand out through good format, concise write-ups and a cover letter.
Always know this, some of the most successful people to walk this earth may not have had the right degree, but what they had in common was the right mindset. At the end of the day, you are only limited by the opportunities you create for yourself.