There are no SparkNotes for creating meaningful work. No silver bullet that helps you get noticed, or hired. No matter what our parents tell us, nothing really makes us special.
Quite the opposite: from my perspective as a soon-to-be college junior, millions of us twenty-somethings are pushed into the workforce with nothing but a college degree that doesn’t seem at all special anymore.
So as I start this next school year, and try to find a way to differentiate myself, I am on a quest. A quest for answers. Admittedly, I don’t know enough to know if I’m even asking the right questions. But as they stand now, here – for the world to consider, judge and perhaps offer an answer or two – are the questions I need answered before I’m 25:
- How will my success be defined – by money made, relationships developed or footprints cemented? (Or maybe by my Twitter followers?)
- What is the ONE thing that I can do each and every day to make myself more employable?
- What balance of ‘What I know’ and ‘Who I know’ creates the most room for growth and opportunity?
- When will workforce veterans start to view me as a fellow contributor… and not just ‘the kid’?
- What are the top five qualities that employers look for in a young candidate?
- How can I maintain mental health once in the workforce? (‘Cause those in there now all seem a little nuts.)
- How can I maintain my current high level of physical fitness and still make time for an intense work schedule? (‘Cause those a little older than me could use some sit-ups.)
- Will “remote working” become THE thing of the future? If yes, what do I need to learn now?
- With most seeming so unhappy at work, how do I filter through all the BS and learn what characteristics make an organization a “good company to work for”?
- If I started my own business today, what are the three most important pieces of advice I need to hear?
- What skills do I need to acquire in order to sustain long-term business success?
- When starting a company, where do you look to find trustworthy business partners and respected investors?
- What reality is going to “blindside” me… what will I not see coming?
- 20 years from now, what is the answer to: “Looking back 20 years from now, I wish that I had started investing my money in ______.”
- If I could budget for ONE experience that has “life-changing” potential, what would it be?
- What are 5 books that I must read before I graduate?
- If there is one place to live with the most personal and professional upside (preferably in the US), where would it be?
- What is the fine print of a 401K? Should I invest in a 401K from the very beginning, or is there a better investment for a 20-something?
- Over the next 30 years, what will be the HOTTEST industry to enter, thrive and have fun in regardless of the company?
- How will the traditional 9-to-5 workday evolve over the next 10 years? Will there be any such thing as “off” time?
- Is social media as powerful as society portrays it to be, or will it impede a purely human lifestyle?
- Will selfies be a thing of the past… or added to the dictionary?
- Will higher education be necessary? Worth the investment? 10 years from now, will I look back at the $110K I spent and say, “Holy crap, I could’ve learned all that on Coursera for $99.”
- Will people of my generation, so scarred by the precedent set by our parents and scared of failure, not start a family until we’re 30-something? 40-something?
And the grand-daddy of them all…
25. Will the Cubs ever win the World Series?
What did I miss? What answers do YOU need?
About the Author: Mack Watts is heading into his junior year at The Ohio State University. He currently works in strategic partnerships and business development at YouTern. When out of the office, Mack loves frequenting the nearest Chipotle and watching his Buckeyes. In addition to blogging for TheSavvyIntern, he also manages and writes for 6 Rings Sports. Follow Mack on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!