Everyone has some sort of regret. And even if you are too good to have regrets you have to admit there were things you could have done better. Maybe you were mean to those you thought were less than you in high school. Maybe you were too afraid to audition for football, cheerleading, the lead in the play, or the solo in choir. Maybe you were too afraid to let go and have fun. Maybe you had too much fun. We learn so many facts in school, but what is lacking is practical knowledge to set you up for the real world. Here’s are things I wish I knew when I was sixteen:
If you don’t enough family money to pay for school, get not just good but excellent grades, excel at a sport, and/or plan on joining the military. College is more expensive than you can comprehend at 16 or even 18.
If you have to take out loans, don’t take out more than you will make your first year in your field. Do research for this one. I only know one person who graduated making six figures. The rest of us were hard pressed to even find a job and if we did, break 30,000 the first year.
Community college is a great option. It cheap. You can stay home. As long as you’re smart about the classes you take, you won’t lose any time. After two years or less if you pack your schedule, then you can go to a university and party it up to your little heart’s desire. Trust me, the 20,000+ you save is worth it.
Interviewing skills and preparation matters. Seriously. No matter where you got your degree, what it’s in, how much experience you have, nothing compares to how you dress, carry yourself, and communicate.
No matter what job you are applying for, you should dress for success. A good pair of slacks and a button-down is the most dressed down you should ever step into a potential employer whether you are applying or interviewing. I understand not everyone has $500 for a suit, but you can get a proper interviewing outfit at Goodwill for under $20 or can borrow something. Showing up in less can show that you don’t take pride in yourself or your work and may come off as lazy.
Carry yourself professionally whenever you come into contact with the potential employer. It’s important to speak clearly, sit and stand up straight, use a proper handshake and very importantly manners and be polite.
Communication is also extremely important. Being able to clearly get your thoughts, ideas, and answer questions shows that you are professional, thoughtful, and put together. Pause to gather your thoughts so you don’t stutter. Someone who communicates effectively is better off than someone with a Harvard degree who can’t.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your blogs (ahem), and more will be reviewed. Trust me. There are people out there whose sole job is to vet employees. Don’t but private business out there. Seriously, once it’s out there, it can never. ever. ever. be taken back. I thank my lucky stars daily that
And when you get the job, always do your best. No matter what a company says about how they treat their employees, they don’t owe you a thing and the company will always look out for the company first. It’s how they stay profitable and in business. And if you find one that does look out for you, don’t take it for granted.
And last, on this subject, take your jobs seriously. It doesn’t matter if you are pushing carts at Jewel, stocking the backroom at Target, working the drive-through at McDonald’s, or the CEO of a fortune 500 company. Take it seriously. With that comes the length of employment. Try to stay at every job at least a year if possible. I know it’s the millennial way to job from place to place, but it says a lot to be loyal to an employer who is good to you.
Don’t be afraid to say yes to a date with a guy or girl that isn’t “cool” or that your friends don’t approve of. After college, it’s not so easy to meet someone and watching those guys you turned down in high school for insecure reasons, become lawyers, doctors, and get married isn’t fun.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little- just don’t get out of control or crazy. Likewise, you can ALWAYS say no to anything.
Your friends aren’t the be all end all. To be honest with you, I don’t talk to a single person from High School regularly and I wish I didn’t care what they thought back then. In the grand scheme, if they are there for you and are your friend, they’ll be there. If not, bye!
Don’t be afraid to try out for everything and anything. You may fall flat on your face and be embarrassed, but 15 years later, you’ll know you tried.
Be your freaking self. Don’t try to be who you aren’t to fit in. Find your authentic self and rock that shit.
And last, it gets easier. College is better than high school for most of us. If it sucks, count down the days because it gets better. I promise.
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