|Source: Ben Heine|
Students are back in school and the American Dream Factory is in full force. Study hard, keep your nose clean and you too can have the life you want. Scholarships, college of choice, great career, etc. However, what the best students know is there is more to getting what you want in the future than just getting good grades and being a good person. Following are three patterns that are non-negotiables for students who are putting themselves in the best position for success. These are not "do more and you will get more" principles. These are "do more of what works and less of what doesn't" principles.
1. Create and expand your network. Its not what you know. Its not who you know. Its who knows you. Students (secondary and post-secondary) need to pick a target career goal for many reasons. One of the most important is it gives you an industry to get involved in. Seek out internships, attend industry conferences, network with professionals who are successful doing the job you want to do and ask them questions. Companies don't hire people; people hire people. Schools don't give scholarships; people give scholarships. Get to know people.
2. Build up a robust trust account. Future "gatekeepers" are going to check all the basics of your past: grades, extracurricular activities, etc. However, they will place just as much stock (if not more) in what your references say about you as a person. Character, work ethic, integrity, creativity, people skills, willingness to learn, flexibility, emotional maturity, etc. You need to invest a ton of time and energy in building trust with people in your life today; especially your teachers, school administrators, bosses, etc. You will need their help in the future. Be trustworthy - worthy of other's trust.
3. Go above and beyond expectations. Build a reputation as someone who will do more than expected. And not because you are always asked or because there is a "prize" for it, but because it is who you are. Figure out how to maximize your school opportunities (inside and outside of the classroom) and then act. This list includes: internships, student organizations, helping your teacher with projects, etc.
The competition for scholarships, college admission and jobs is higher than ever. Put yourself in the best position for success by incorporating these three patterns in your school routine. Good luck!
Book recommendation - How to Be a High School Superstar, Cal Newport
"Disguised as a peppy college-admission guide, Newport's book is actually a profound, life-affirming manifesto for ambitious high school students. Forgo the sleepless and cynical path to college acceptance. Instead, blaze your trail to the Ivy League by living a full life and immersing yourself in things that matter. Relax. Find meaning. Be you." David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us