Crowdsourced questions & answers

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Earlier this week I crowdsourced questions from 2 by 22 subscribers -- the response was fantastic with many introspective and challenging questions!Below are a handful of questions that I selected and shared my thoughts on. I also linked articles I’ve previously written if they are relevant to the question at hand.Question 1:

“What tips do you have on getting into an industry for which your degree is nonstandard, beyond taking additional classes and certifications.” - Anna

I think there’s a bit of a misconception that your internship or job has to be related to your degree. I’ve seen countless examples of students studying something they are interested in, while pursuing a career in a completely unrelated direction.Classes are a great way to get exposure to new topics, but you have many other tools at your disposal including: researching the industry online, discussing with professionals via informational chats, student organizations, and internships. I wrote more about how to explore your career interests here.Question 2:

“How should I deal with networking awkwardness, conversational awkwardness, or generally when a phone call or coffee chat goes wrong.” - Falah

Practice, practice, and more practice. Here’s a script to get you started on navigating calls and chats. In reality, your first few calls are probably not going to go super well. Discussing careers with a complete stranger is not an easy thing to do, but they key is to start early and keep practicing.During my Freshman year, I did a few calls with experienced professionals in Private Equity. These were very busy people who gave me time to chat, but looking back I was laughably unprepared. I just didn’t know enough about the industry to have an interesting conversation, and as a result it was difficult to build a lasting relationship with them. But I’m glad I had those conversations, because the trial by fire practice made me more confident and effective for future chats.Force yourself to do 10 calls in 2 weeks -- I guarantee by the end of 2 weeks you’ll be much more comfortable with informational chats.Question 3:

“How does one define their goals? How do you envision a successful, meaningful future?” - Andrew

This is a big question! I’ll keep my answer at a high-level for brevity’s sake. I’ve found that it’s impossible to have a concrete definition of success for yourself. Life changes very quickly and as you become more experienced your goals and definitions of success will change.Instead, I approach goals with a hypothesis. You can have a hypothesis of what your goal is, what success looks like, and where you will find meaning. The relieving part is that it doesn’t matter if your hypothesis is remotely right for you -- just start somewhere. Then, aggressively pursue life experiences to test, validate, or disprove your hypothesis. As you learn by talking with other people and exploring opportunities around you, you can gradually pivot your hypothesis closer to the best fitting goals for yourself. This is not something you will figure out tomorrow or this year, but over time you will build conviction in the direction of your life.In simple words: take a guess of what your goals are, try a bunch of stuff and talk to people, and keep iterating. Here’s a related article about personalizing your career path.Question 4:

“How do you get the most out of an entry level job or internship?” - Zach

This is a related to my previous answer of using hypotheses to guide yourself. One way to maximize your learning is to form a few hypotheses of what you are trying to test beforehand. Then, during your internship make sure you are building experiences and perspectives that will relate to your hypothesis and inform the next iteration.For example, during my first internship I had a hypothesis that I would enjoy business strategy work at a startup. This helped me influence my manager to put me on relevant projects and ultimately validated my hypothesis through my startup experience.Question 5:

“How do I avoid falling asleep after lunch and being productive?” - Bhoomika

Hah, million dollar question and still a work in progress. So far the trick has been salad for lunch, less carbs and fat, mid-day workout if possible, and (of course) coffee.That's it for this week! Reply and let me know what you think of this pseudo AMA -- if there's appetite I'll write another one next week!

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