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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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    Published on August 3, 2020

    How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

    How to Be Organized: The Ultimate Guide to Get (and Stay) Clutter Free

    With all the inputs, information, and clutter that come into our lives today, just staying on top of it all creates so much stress and frustration, and it can often lead to feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Most of the time, you simply don’t know where to start when you want to learn how to be organized.

    However, it is, in fact, something that can be learned.

    By developing a few strategies and methods, and having a system in place that quickly deals with all these inputs, you can finally get control of your clutter and, more importantly, stay clutter-free.

    Here are a few rules that can help you on your path to a clutter-free life.

    1. Don’t Use Your Computer’s Desktop for Storage

    Your computer’s desktop was not designed to store your files. Your desktop should be clean and file free. Not only does a cluttered desktop slow down your computer, but it also makes finding things painfully slow.

    Instead, as you’re learning how to be organized, create a basic folder structure inside your documents folder. Now, this needs to work for you, but try not to make things too complicated. What you can do is think about the kind of files you will need to keep, and categorize them between your personal and professional ones. For me, I have two basics folders inside my documents folder, one called “work” and one called “personal.” Inside of these, I have subfolders organized according to my different roles or categories.

    It’s simple, and it allows me to quickly find what I need when I need it.

    Now, I do understand that during the day, when you are doing your work, you may need quick access to certain images and files, and it’s okay to hold them on your desktop temporarily. However, make it a habit to clear your desktop at the end of each day as part of your closing down routine (more on that later).

    2. Learn to Use Your Computer’s Search Features

    It surprises me how few people know how to find documents on their computer with a simple keyboard shortcut, but it’s one of the easiest things to do as you’re learning how to be organized. On a Mac, for instance, CMD + Space bar brings up the spotlight search, and you can type in a date, a file type, a keyword, or a file name.

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    On a Windows computer[1], open the start button, and begin typing the file you are looking for.

    In both cases, you do not need the exact name of the file. Just type a few letters, and within seconds you have the file you need.

    When you learn how useful your computer’s search features are, you will be much more comfortable removing all those files scattered around on your desktop and putting them in an appropriate folder on your computer.

    3. Keep Your Desk Clear of Clutter

    Just as with your computer’s desktop, your desk’s desktop should also be file and clutter-free. Use your drawers for those paper documents that habitually hang around on your desk—a cluttered desk does not encourage inspired work[2].

    Also, take a look at your workspace, and ask if what is on your desk is necessary. Often, we have stuff on our desks that serve no meaning and has no sentimental value to us. It’s just something we have always had on our desk. If you don’t need it or it does not inspire you, remove it.

    And while we are talking about your desk, make a decision this week that you will go through your desk drawers and clear out all the old pens, cups, and other debris that has accumulated over the years. Trust me on this one, the act of cleaning out your drawers and removing all the clutter on your desk will give you renewed energy and ignite a lot of creativity that has been pushed into the background. You will love working at your desk again.

    Pictures of your loved ones and a few inspiring mementos are fine. Just don’t go crazy with them. Keep them to a minimum.

    4. Create a Closing Down Routine

    This is such a great way to make sure you keep your files and other stuff organized, so make it an essential skill to adopt when learning how to be organized. Give yourself ten to twenty minutes before you finish your work for the day to clean up your desktops.

    Move your files to their rightful place, and delete anything you no longer need. I often accumulate a lot of screenshots throughout the day, and if I am not removing them, at the end of the day, they soon start building up.

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    Before I shut my computer down for the day, I clean these up, delete the screenshots if I no longer need them, and leave my desktop file free. It’s a beautiful way to start the next day with a clean desk and a clean computer desktop.

    5. Incorporate a To-Do List Manager Into Your Life

    Writing your to-dos and commitments down on post-it notes just encourages clutter. Sure, it might seem like a great idea to stick these to your computer so you don’t forget things, but over time you become numb to them. They just become a part of your desk, and you ignore them.

    Remove them. Take your tasks and commitments, and put them into a to-do list manager. Whether you use Windows or Mac, they both come with to-do list managers. Make good use of them.

    You do not need to create an elaborate to-do list structure. All you need is an inbox for quick entry and the ability to date tasks for when they need doing.

    I use a simple structure in my to-do list manager. I use a system I call the Time Sector System[3] where I create six folders:

    • Inbox
    • This week
    • Next week
    • This month
    • Next month
    • Long-term / On-hold

    Then, whatever I collect, the only decision I need to make is: when am I going to do the task? I can then drop the task into its relevant folder.

    One of the biggest causes of clutter on desks (and in bags) are all those little bits of paper you use to write down critical information and telephone numbers or email addresses. When these accumulate, they are easy to lose, and you waste a lot of time searching for them.

    Use your digital devices for these. You can take a photo of a written note. You can quickly add a telephone number or an email address into your to-do list manager (or notes app), and if you have syncing set up between your devices, you will have access to the information on all your devices. And what’s more, it will be searchable.

    6. Set a Weekly Time to Declutter Your Devices

    This is an area that can quickly creep up on you, so take time to develop this habit as you’re learning how to be organized. Taking photos and videos on our phones is too easy these days. We take a picture, and we just leave it in our photo album.

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    Over time we end up with thousands of photos in our electronic photo albums that are not worth keeping. I spend around ten minutes on the weekend (usually Sunday evening) deleting all the images I no longer want to keep. It keeps my digital storage needs down—which saves money—and it means all the photos in my photo album are photos I want to keep.

    I do the same with my downloads folder. We often download a PDF intending to read it later, and then we completely forget about it. As time passes, we end up with hundreds of PDFs and other documents we are no longer interested in or no longer need. Delete them or file them. Just don’t leave them in your downloads folder.

    If you want to stay clutter-free, this habit will reward you. Doing this weekly means you will spend around thirty minutes each week cleaning up and filing. Not doing so means you will end up having to spend a day or two just dealing everything, which will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted those days.

    7. Do an Annual Clean-up

    One of my annual rituals is to clean out all my folders and notes. I take a day off from work and spend the day going through everything on my computer and delete anything that no longer has any value.

    I choose the winter holidays for this. Not only is it the end of the year, but many companies are on holiday, and things are generally quieter.

    I go through all my work and personal folders and clean out anything I no longer need. I also archive a lot of files onto an external hard drive—just in case they are needed later.

    It’s also a good time to clear out your email folders, too. Email can become a bottomless pit of emails you no longer need. Go through and purge those. You will feel so much better when you do this.

    With email, you can also declare yourself email bankrupt and just delete everything in your inbox (or if you are not comfortable doing that, declare a ‘soft’ email bankruptcy and you move all your emails into a folder called “Old Inbox”).

    Doing this might seem like a radical step, but it is incredible how much clearer you become. You get to see what you have been holding on to, what you may have missed, and you find yourself with a lot more space ready for the year to come.

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    8. Do a Little, Often

    I learned this a long time ago. Many years ago, I tried becoming a salesperson. I failed miserably at it, but during my training, I shadowed an experienced colleague. On one of the days I was shadowing her, she had to complete and file her expense report for the month.

    I vividly remember her opening the glovebox of her car and pulling out handfuls of receipts and then painstakingly adding them to an expense report—we did things on paper in those days. Four hours later, she finally finished the report.

    I remember at the time thinking this was not a great way to do this. When I got my chance to go solo, I began stopping my car in a car-park on the way home and added that day’s expenses to my expenses sheet. It took me a few minutes, and as I was doing it on the same day, I remembered exactly what each receipt was for.

    When you’re learning how to be organized, you can use this principle for almost everything. Clear out your email inbox every day, delete screenshots from your desktop and empty your bag at the end of the week, and throw away anything you no longer need.

    Doing a little often makes things so much easier, and you do not have that mental backlog creeping up on you where you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind telling you you have to do something—only you can’t remember what that something is.

    Final Thoughts

    If it doesn’t come naturally to you, learning how to be organized can take time and effort, but it’s ultimately worth it. Becoming clutter-free helps you in so many ways. You have a more pleasant work environment, and de-cluttering your environment also helps to declutter your mind. On top of that, finding stuff is easier, and that means your overall productivity goes through the roof. Choose the strategies above that will help you in your daily life and start getting your life organized today.

    More Tips on How to Be Organized

    Featured photo credit: Jeff Sheldon via unsplash.com

    Reference

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