Monday, October 10, 2011

College 101

Last week I had the chance to speak at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering. This is the fourth year I’ve spoken to first semester freshman in their InterEGR 101 class. The class invites engineers from all career paths to discuss their journey from a student to a professional. During my time on campus, I gave advice about my experience as a student, intern and now as CEO at PerBlue. Here are a few tips that I highlight during the presentation:

Do an internship EVERY summer
If I could do it all over again, I’d go to school for 6 years and do 4 internships. My summers spent at Microsoft and Google were some of the most rewarding experiences. You will learn more during a three month internship than during all of college.

Work Hard and Smart
I cannot stress this enough- the difference between the perception of a smart person and a dumb person- is resourcefulness. We live in a world where information is at the tips of our fingers at any given point. Don’t know the answer? Google it, find a work around and a solution. The information exists out there. Dumb people find a roadblock and stop. Be a smart person, be resourceful.

Make a list of everything you need to do, I mean absolutely everything you can think of that needs to get done in the near future. Laundry, homework, study for that test, feed the cat. Write it all down. Now cross off the bottom of the list. Don’t think about it, don’t even consider doing these items. I guarantee this abbreviated list will provide you more value than completing the entire list. Your most important work (the stuff you didn’t cross off) will always produce the most value. 20% of what you do will produce 80% of the value.

Sleep and Slow Down
Slow down your college life. You will have better ROI from your classes, have more fun with your student organizations and with your friends. Slowing down is a simple decision, but it will affect everything.

Sleep- I love to sleep, I sleep between 9 and 10 hours every night. It keeps me healthy, I’m more alert and energetic. Slow down and sleep more, these simple choices will give you so much more enjoyment and reward from your college experience and beyond

Keep Learning
Learning is a constant process throughout life. Dedicate yourself to learning throughout the rest of your life. Start by answering these two questions:
  • How do I learn best?
  • What topics interest me?
Strive to find your passions and learning opportunities. Unfortunately we weren’t born with a list of the skills we would be good at, or the things we like or dislike. Work hard to discover the things that bring you the most enjoyment and commit to lifelong learning.

Surround Yourself with Great People
The most important thing I got out of college was the people I met. Life is too short to spend time with dopes. Surround yourself with people you admire, people who you like and people who are smarter than you. They will push you to be a better, smarter and more well-rounded person.

Here is the full video from class: