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Tag: career

college rejection time: your life is over

Hey high school seniors, it’s April. Colleges just decided your fate for the rest of your life. If you didn’t get into your top choice and you think your life will suck, you’re absolutely right.

A recent study by the Department of Education showed that where you go to college is the most accurate predictor of success in the future. If you want to strut in your best business clothes every day for the rest of your life and shove past people on the city streets while talking on your cell phone to your significant other about how you’re 2 minutes late to your next boring meeting and that, no, you actually do not have time to see your injured son in the hospital today, tomorrow, or anytime soon—and everyone thinks this is success, right?—then it is absolutely essential that you get into your first-choice college.

The study shows that an overwhelming majority of such people (for convenience’s sake, a year after the study, they coined the word “tool”) went to the college they most desperately wanted to attend—and that if the college was ranked in the top 10 by the U.S. News magazine the year they enrolled, then their chance for success and wealth was exponentially greater.

But the study dives deeper and addresses more than just wealth, impressive titles, and “success.” Even if you’re one of the very very few people in the world who just want to be happy (c’mon now, who wants that?), the national overplay of college decisions this month will still color everything you do for decades to come. The conductors of the study analyzed the art of starving artists who do what they love to do and whose happiness levels were higher than the average person. They found that, whether in paintings, novels, or songs, the second most common underlying reference, motif, or theme was college admissions (of course, by far, phallic objects remain number one).

In the last part of this groundbreaking study, interviewers asked over a thousand people on their dying beds what their greatest regret was in life. More than two-thirds responded that they still wish they could rewind back to high school and do everything the white bread way, put a check mark next to everything they were told to do, and get into a better college they could brag about on their resumes for the rest of their lives. They said that they might’ve found a different—and probably better—calling in life if they attended a better college and that being stuck with an alma mater that was only ranked #11 has given them hot flashes and reminders of their inferiority throughout their lives, often leading to serious stress, destructive behavior, and even diarrhea.

The conclusion of the study? If you received a skinny envelope from a top-notch college, then you are screwed with a capital S.

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Happy April Fools’ Day!! =)

I certainly hope that was quite obvious.

Whether you’re applying to colleges, applying to internships, or applying to jobs, no matter what stage of life you’re in, just remember: big names, rankings, titles, fame, grades, salaries, and promotions don’t matter much.

People, purpose, laughter, and love matter so much more. People for this interconnected world. Purpose for having a sense of direction and meaning in life. Laughter for enjoying every day to the fullest. And love for caring deeply about anyone and everyone. They’re what life is really made of.

You may or may not have tried your best in high school. That’s behind you. And you may or may not have been accepted into your top-choice college. Just lead your beautiful life wherever you end up going, whether top choice, second choice, or last choice. Enjoy what you were given. Make the most of any route. Look forward to a fresh start. May you always make all the difference you can with all your gifts to the world and in whatever situation you are in. That’s your choice—not anyone else’s.

- by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009

let’s stop asking all the wrong questions

let’s stop asking our kids what they want to be when they grow up and start asking ourselves how they should grow up.

let’s stop asking high school graduates where they’re going to college and start asking where they’re going in life.

let’s stop asking college graduates if they’ve found a job and start asking if they’ve made their purpose.

let’s stop asking workers if they’re climbing up the ladder and start asking if they see that the ladder is endless.

let’s stop asking our grandchildren if they know how the world used to be and start asking them if they know how the world still needs to be.

let’s stop asking all the wrong questions and start asking all the right ones.

- by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I hate that question.

I’m very goal-driven with the things that I think need direction. And I have a strong sense of my personal and career-related values.

But I still hate that question.

So years ago when the teacher in charge of my high school yearbook asked it to me and everyone else in the Top 10, our conversation was quite interesting:

Nathan: I don’t know.
Yearbook Advisor: You have to know.
Nathan: No, I don’t. I don’t know.
Yearbook Advisor: Everyone else has something listed.
Nathan: And that means I have to follow the crowd?
Yearbook Advisor: Yes. The Top 10 should be setting an example for everyone else.
Nathan: Well, I’m sorry, but I really don’t know and I think this is as much of a good example as everyone else’s answer. If you’re that desperate, you can pick something for me and include it in the yearbook.

Well, months passed and the yearbook was finally published. I flipped to the career plans page for the Top 10, and apparently the advisor wrote “Engineer or pro wrestler” under my photo.  (Yes, this is a true story.) I’m Asian and had a reputation of being good at math, but an engineer was possibly the only thing I knew I didn’t want to be.

I found this story funny, but I think there was an important takeaway for myself and for others:

Okay, back to that ugly question and all its flaws. What do you want to be when you grow up? If you’re aspiring to be something like a writer, musician, anthropologist, chef, teacher, mechanic, or social worker, you better own up to it and correct your interviewer. You already are that writer, musician, anthropologist, chef, teacher, mechanic, or social worker. It’s not something you want to be when you grow up. It’s something you live and breathe already.

If you want anyone to consider your seriousness for a career, you need to give a role to yourself. You could say you’re a “teacher” if teaching others is what you often informally do, even if you don’t stand in front of a chalkboard every day. I suppose you can’t really say you’re a doctor or politician to people yet, but you could still say you’re a healer or a liar…

Instead of asking yourself what you want to be, ask yourself who you are and what you value. Take an inventory of your strengths and personality traits. Then reflect on what kind of effect and difference you’d like to make in the world. While the answers to these questions are open to change throughout your life, they will stay a lot more consistent than “what you want to be.” In addition, they’ll invite you to explore a lot more opportunities that will help you act on your values.

Years after my high school graduation, I finally figured out part of my life. Some of my main values are educating people, inspiring people, and empowering people. When I leave this world, I want it to be a more loving, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and connected place. I act on these values by mixing some careers together: teacher, counselor, consultant, writer, filmmaker, juggler, entertainer. These titles may change—and I may encounter new ones I like—but my values will always stay the same. My values are soaked into all of these fields. In all my art, I’m always teaching about love and compassion. Even as a juggler, I strive to dazzle my audience and make them laugh together. In a sense, I hope they are connected during my act and can forget about their differences or worries for the day.

I think it’s perfectly fine, and probably even normal, to not know what you want to be. You have plenty of choices in the future, and you wouldn’t want to trap yourself into just one. But you need to always think about what gift you can give to the world.

Life is about acting on values, not chasing titles.

- by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009

Writing resumes and cover letters

As the summer and graduation date approach, the economy may seem too depressing for those who are still struggling looking for a job or internship. But even in these tough economic times, students can improve their odds of finding a job with an appealing résumé, BU advisors say.

Deborah Halliday, the Assistant Director of Boston University’s Office of Career Services, gives some pointers.

She says:

  • Because a résumé is often the only chance to show a company one’s strength and experience, résumé writing is critical in job searching.
  • “Employers go through the résumés very quickly and they’ll screen you out if the résumé doesn’t appeal to them.”

Some of her advice:

  • Write customized résumés. Consider the expertise a particular job is looking for and keep the résumé relevant.
  • Don’t list courses that are obviously in your territory (for example: Microeconomics and Macroeconomics if you’re an Economics major).
  • Create a master document including ALL your work experience and pick the items relevant for each particular job you’re applying for.

Some resources she suggests:

  • The website of Career Services provides tutorials and templates to help students organize their résumés.
  • The Office of Career Services helps people format and write resumes.
  • Some BU schools, including COM and SMG, have their own career center.

Her tips on cover letters:

  • A good cover letter may help overcome a thin résumé.
  • “Employers understand that you don’t have a lot to put on your résumé if you are a freshman and they will be very forgiving about that, but you need to show a strong interest in your cover letter.”
  • Every cover letter has to be different because an effective cover letter has to draw connections between you and the employer.
  • “Talk about what you know about the company, why you want to work there and why you would be a good fit.”

- by Yue Huang
Boston University student
http://huangy07.blogspot.com/

The Hidden Lessons of College

College hides its real lessons. They dress themselves up as lectures, tests, papers, oral presentations, projects, social interactions, new settings, new people, roommates, and extracurriculars. While you may be taught chemical formulas, assigned a paper about Freud, given a group project about economics, challenged by very different roommates, living far from home, or given the responsibility of leading a club, what you’re really learning is how to learn, think, write, listen, talk, manage time, manage people, care about and shape the world-at-large, be an active citizen, and be independent—all crucial skills relevant to every workplace.

Your major plays a small role in your college experience and an even smaller role in the years following graduation. As long as your university provides a haven that allows you to learn from your mistakes and develop your strengths and weaknesses—all in a nurturing environment—then you’re getting a valuable education.

Remember that in college, everyone is rooting for you. Take advantage of it before you head off into the “real world.” Learn everything you’ve always wanted to learn, grow in all the ways you’ve ever wanted to grow, and change in all the ways you’ve ever wanted to change.

Dare to be vulnerable, wrong, adventurous, curious.

Have faith in being confident, right, independent, influential, social.

And have pride in being yourself and developing your full potential.

- by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009