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Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity

Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity

    Some of the biggest companies in the world were started by college dropouts. Google, Facebook and Microsoft, to name a few. But these very same companies, among hundreds of others, shun college dropouts.

    TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington, spoke about entrepreneurship at UC Berkley recently, where he claimed that college was for old school entrepreneurs and the trend of the day was to get into a good school to prove you’re smart enough and then drop out. He says, “The best thing in the world is to go to Harvard for a year and drop out because everyone knows you were smart enough to get in”. However, Arrington himself, is a College Graduate and has never possibly been rejected for low grades or dropping out. But he has also started one of the most successful and influential Silicon Valley blogs and has spent years observing entrepreneurs of the many billion dollar companies based there.

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    In response to his speech, Vivek Wadhwa, entrepreneur turned Academic, Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard, says the following on Arrington’s own turf, TechCrunch, “Maybe Zuckerberg lucked out by being at the right place at the right time… To build a business, you need to understand subjects like finance, marketing, intellectual property and corporate law.”

    To support his claim, Wadhawa, does explain how the companies started by entrepreneurs have gone to be built by Senior Execs who are highly educated people; executives with knowledge about how to actually build a company, not just start one.

    The other reasons

    Turns out, that not only is it important to finish that degree. It is also essential to start off right. Speaking to New York Times, a few years ago, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., who is the HR head at a company that owns businesses like match.com and Home Shopping Network, says that in his 15 years of experience good GPA grades have been great predictors of work ethic and smartness.

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    As Wadhwa says in his Tech Crunch post, a degree (and good GPA scores, we will include here), shows that you’re not going to ‘chase after every rainbow’.

    So what can you do to boost your chances of being hired if you have dropped out of college or have low grades?

    Omit the GPA

    If your GPA is way below average, experts recommend skipping it on your Resume altogether. In the same NYT story, whereTaylorglorifies the importance of GPA,

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    Tory Johnson, the chief executive of Women for Hire inNew York, says the following, about mentioning a GPA lower than 3.0, “That is like saying ‘Hi, I’m mediocre,’”.  A lot of great skills make up for a low GPA score, communication, charisma and so on, especially in fields like Sales or PR. Getting a face-to-face meeting will greatly enhance your chances of making an impression that could negate you low GPA grades.

    State your reasons

    If you dropped out of college to start a business venture, but you are now looking to be hired, demonstrate what you have done with your time and the skills you have learnt in the process. However, if you dropped out to ‘find yourself’ but you’re now serious about getting a job, you might want to consider going back to college. If you simply can’t afford it, try to highlight skills that come naturally to you, without having had much training or education, like writing or communication.

    Entry Level

    Many success stories at big corporations started began in the mail room. Grabbing just about any position at an organization you want to work for, shows initiative and dedication. Take graveyard shifts, become the copy boy, doing what it takes makes up for a lot of missing fields on one’s resume. Also, equally important as getting the job you want, working in the field that you want to make your mark in, even as a mail boy, helps you gain important insights in how the industry functions.

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    Use your connections

    New Yorker journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell has studied and written extensively about what it takes to be successful. He has repeatedly exalted the importance of connections and being in the right place. In his book, The Outliers, he compares super-intelligent people from vastly different backgrounds, such as genius Christopher Langan, who, having been brought up in a poor family, had no academic credentials and ended up working as a bouncer, to the ‘manor born’ Robert Oppenheimer. Essentially, use your connections if you have them. If you  have poor GPA or you dropped out of college but have plenty of potential, get this simple thing right: Network, network like crazy. Once you get that door to open for you, the sky could be the limit.

    Get a job. Any job

    In times like these, when jobs continue to be rare, and in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, where GPA scores and College degrees, despite being prohibitively expensive, are given priority, you can stand out. But you’ve got to keep doing something while you try for your big break. It’ll help you pay your bills, so you don’t have to depend on your parents or partner, get you out of the house and help keep some of that desperation out. Keep your chin up and keep trying, the importance of grades, scores and degrees may vary, but the one thing the remains as rewarding as ever is the ‘never say die’ spirit.

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

    Do you like making mistakes?

    I certainly don’t.

    Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

    Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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    Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

    Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

    • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
    • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
    • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
    • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

    We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

    If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

    Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

    Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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    When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

    Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

    We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

    It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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    Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

    Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

    Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

    1. Point us to something we did not know.
    2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
    3. Deepen our knowledge.
    4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
    5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
    6. Inform us more about our values.
    7. Teach us more about others.
    8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
    9. Show us when someone else has changed.
    10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
    11. Remind us of our humanity.
    12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
    13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
    14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
    15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
    16. Invite us to better choices.
    17. Can teach us how to experiment.
    18. Can reveal a new insight.
    19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
    20. Can serve as a warning.
    21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
    22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
    23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
    24. Remind us how we are like others.
    25. Make us more humble.
    26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
    27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
    28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
    29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
    30. Expose our true feelings.
    31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
    32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
    33. Point us in a more creative direction.
    34. Show us when we are not listening.
    35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
    36. Can create distance with someone else.
    37. Slow us down when we need to.
    38. Can hasten change.
    39. Reveal our blind spots.
    40. Are the invisible made visible.

    Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

    The secret to handling mistakes is to:

    • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
    • Have an experimental mindset.
    • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

    When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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    When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

    It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

    When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

    Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

    Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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    Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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