In the last job of my working career, I had the privilege of counseling people through their various degree programs in college. I spoke with so many people about their goals, dreams, and the part that their higher education would play in attaining them. In my 13-year career as an Academic Advisor, I considered it a duty to students to provide them with the very best counsel for them BOTH as a student and as a person. It is how I was raised, and I have always embraced and fought for the underdog. Although I have spoken with and counseled thousands, one individual particularly stands out. When I first spoke with him, he was finalizing the steps for enrollment and unlike so many, Mr. W. had a plan. Now you can imagine I have heard my share of plans over the years and most failed. But something about Mr. W was different. We definitely connected from our first call on. His plans were specific. He kept his goals SMART and achieved his goals one after another. He started out with a 4.0 GPA and held it for a long time until life interrupted. We spoke of what he was doing and how awesome his academic achievements were, taken into context. He was his own worst critic, as most perfectionists are, so I had to remind him. He was going through some uncertainty in his career as a long-distance trucker and was dealing with leaving his job. He is a single father raising two daughters, taking a FULL-TIME college program, and STILL getting honors-level grades! I just got a call from him this morning. Now this is with me removed from working for three months. My friend gave me a great deal of credit for his current employment situation: he is virtually running a transportation company, is making better money than ever before, and his future is bright. So bright, that if he were a stock, I’d be going LONG on futures!
A beautiful thing is that his was the fourth call I received from grateful students so far. Although I received trophies and plaques for my work for assisting students, these calls mean 100x more to me. Let them serve to continue to define me and how I was raised by my grandparents and parents.
So, again, not on a soapbox, but looking through a laser-focused business lens, you are either A) retired, B) looking for work, C) working. An even sharper focus yields some truisms in a much-different-than-we-had-it-job market. I remember being able to quit (or get fired) on a Thursday and start work on Friday. Now, its all about differentiating yourself from the pack. Used to be all you needed was great work history and a phone number to get hired. Now, employers want to know why YOU and not Jane or Joe? What is one of the BIGGEST differentiators today?
EDUCATION!!! Don’t be a Joe or a Jane. Be like Mr. W. Go to school.