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Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity

Dropping Out Doesn’t Mean the End of Opportunity
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    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 July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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