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Things you wish you knew about college, graduate schools, and entry-level careers?

post #1 of 182
Thread Starter 
Do we want to do this? Seems like there are plenty of younger guys here that can use some help and maybe a reality check or two. I know I've gotten some horrible advice from career counselors and well-wishers before, and wish someone just told me straight up how things really are out there.

Be back in a bit with some things I've learned the hard way.
post #2 of 182
Advice on Style Forum is hit and miss really. For every Tagut, there is a Conne.
post #3 of 182
Here's what I wish I could have injected into my brain at age 18-20, looking back now after several years working in academia and the humanities (or social sciences/education). 1. Ivy league or "famous" schools have their advantages, but for most areas nobody really is going to care where you went shortly after graduation and/or your first job. Further, most of the time the only people you'll impress with that degree are other people from those schools and, maybe, your Korean girlfriend's dad. 1B. Giving up a full ride w/ a stipend to the University of Tennessee for a big, fat loan to go to Dartmouth may NOT be the wisest option. 2. If you are a college freshman, it's too early to be thinking about a doctorate. Finish your undergrad first. Then finish your master's. THEN think if you want to go further. 3. If you are a high schooler or undergrad and are thinking to yourself, "should I be a Big Lawyer or a Heart surgeon?" then grow up, get a reality check, and don't bother asking us. 4. Go into a field that is diverse and practical and can find you a job. SO, "Ancient Assyrian Linguistics" might sound great when you're 18-19, but it MAY not be so great when you get done and can't find a job. 5. Money isn't everything. Though, of course, SF's minimum base salary is $250K, you can survive on less and still not contemplate suicide on a daily basis. 6. Before you are 25, nobody really wants to listen to what you have to say about anything, because usually it's a bunch of smarmy, selfish, bullshit. Keep your nose to the grindstone, work hard, and shut up. Learn from others and leave your ruminations about life, the universe, and everything to the local pub with your friends.
post #4 of 182
A couple of things I learned:

- Some professors suck AND other teachers & staff don't like them either
- Some of the girls actually DO want to get laid. Tonight. (Make a play now)
post #5 of 182
Thread Starter 
It absolutely matters where you went to school - in today's brand-centric world it's a HUGE deal. There are many aspects to this. A school with a great regional reputation might get you a good job in your city, but might be absolutely meaningless to anyone outside. And that makes a huge difference. Just having the right school on your resume might make a huge difference in being considered for the right position. This is especially true if you'd want to work for a large/global company or in a relatively competitive industry. The top companies have "target schools", know exactly what product (you, the student) they get from them. I've been literally told by friends who participated in recruiting - Oh, yeah, we do hire from XXX, but only when the economy is extremely heated, and those are kind of like second class citizens, first to go when times get tough, last to get promoted. Especially true for "professional" occupations - business, law, accounting, consulting, engineering, etc. Graduate degrees are good, but don't go into an MBA program without at least 3-5 years of experience. This is a big deal, seriously. Also don't go to a shitty school. And if you go to a shitty school, for fuck's sake, don't pay sticker for it. Applies to law school as well. Also, it is usually easier to get your employer to pay for a true masters program, a shorter one, as opposed to an MBA or JD that will require full-time commitment. Part-time schools are ok, not as career changers, but perhaps as something you can use to get promoted in your current role, and once again especially good if the employer pays. The "I will be different" curse. Most people think that they will be able to rise above the average. They think they can beat the odds and be different and all that. Well, ambition is fine, but don't stake your life on it. I've seen spectacular crash and burn situations. Lets look at law schools. I had a friend who went to a Tier 2 school and fully expected to work in big law when he graduated, just like many of his clueless peers did. Now he's a bitch at some shitty personal injury law firm barely surviving, and so are most of his friends. Yes, there are few people from his school that made it. There are actually some obscenely rich alumni. But chances are, you're average and will stay that way. If not, great for you, but like I said - don't bet your life on that slight chance. Academia - despite what Rach said above, I believe that the brand matters, especially if you'd like to teach/research at a good school. Entry level careers - PAY YOUR DUES - as cool as it sounds to be able to work for a start-up, to start your own business, to potentially make tons of money (you're worth it, right?) or to join some awesome tiny company because they have hot receptionists and free beer on fridays, BE CAREFUL. Where you spend the first few years of your career matters greatly, it can literally make or break your career. Ideally, if you want to make it somewhere, look for a place that is well-known and provides good training. A few years on your resume spent at an F500/Big4/Big3/Biglaw/Etc will make a difference even ten years down the road. You will get training, access to a good network, and more importantly, it will open doors in the future. Your twenties are not about making bank or living a balling life (although both are certainly possible) - they are about paying your dues while you're young, single (i hope), and healthy. By the way, I guess my stuff is more oriented towards the business/professional grads, cause that's where my expertise is. But I guess even a fashion designer needs to pay his dues and would benefit from working at a great firm or under a great designer.
post #6 of 182
^I don't mean to discount "brand" or where you to go to school altogether, but only to say it gets WAAAAAAY overplayed, especially on SF.
post #7 of 182
Just don't listen to anything Flambeur says, and you'll be fine.


Seriously dude, did you just get laid off from some job you had for 30 years or something?
post #8 of 182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater View Post
Just don't listen to anything Flambeur says, and you'll be fine. Seriously dude, did you just get laid off from some job you had for 30 years or something?
Yup, janitor position at NYCBIGLAW, I was about to retire rich. But really, this is about what you've learned, and since you've made your choice and are happy with it, contribute instead of bashing. I know PLENTY of people who'd agree with everything I've said.
post #9 of 182
Flambeur's advice is solid. There are a thousand ways to make it, but certain decisions you make can give you options.

My contribution to this thread:

- grades matter unless you have unbelievable connections.
- study something quantitative.
post #10 of 182
Don't believe anything you read on the Internet.
post #11 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman View Post
Don't believe anything you read on the Internet.

This is the best advice of all.
post #12 of 182
I concur with much of the previous.

- Name of school matters.
- Connections are the number 1 asset in the working world (in real life in general).
- Grades in college are not important unless you are trying to get into grad school or Google, in which case they become paramount.
- It is *much* easier to land a well-paying job if you studied engineering or finance.
post #13 of 182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman View Post
Don't believe anything you read on the Internet.

This is cute, but this applies to everything. Like I said, I've gotten some horrible advice from very respectable sources before.
post #14 of 182
Here's what I have learned:

None of this really matters. You're going to die (one day). Go live a travelling boho lifestyle, party, drink, drugs, women, and just experience life. Move back to the US, and all the schmucks that go to school, work their asses off, and pay taxes, will be forced to take care of you. Yes, those schmucks might get to die in a nicer nursing home than you, but you will have led a life of little stress and much drugs and sex.

Who won at life? The boho or the working schmuck?
post #15 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flambeur View Post
Yup, janitor position at NYCBIGLAW, I was about to retire rich.

But really, this is about what you've learned, and since you've made your choice and are happy with it, contribute instead of bashing. I know PLENTY of people who'd agree with everything I've said.

I don't know what to say really, I'm only 28 years old and my career is still very young. My philosophy is that it's better to take risks and try new things when you are young, then to one day, when you are in your 60s or 70s, look around and realize that you've spent the best years of your life locked inside the four walls of an office somewhere.

To me, life is about more than what I do with my career.

My tip to young people: do not be afraid to be bold. This country did not become great because of the guys who just wanted to get into the best school possible so that they could have a secure job and they could waste their youth doing some meaningless work for some big firm. This country became great because of pioneers and entrepreneurs. That spirit is very much missing from this country today, and I think that's where our problems are stemming from.
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